Kalamazoo's City Commissioners are the elected representatives of the citizens of Kalamazoo. The Commission provides leadership and policy direction for the community and all municipal government activities with a focus on the long-term financial stability of the City and the identification of community priorities. The City Commission consists of five Commissioners, the Vice Mayor, and the Mayor.
Commissioners serve staggered four-year terms, with three elected in each odd-year election. The commissioner receiving the most votes in each election serves the first two years of their term as Vice Mayor and the final two years as a commissioner after the selection of a new Vice Mayor. The Mayor is elected on a separate ticket in each election to serve a two-year term.
The 53rd City Commission
City Commissioners can be contacted directly as indicated below or by contacting the City Managers Office at 269-337-8047. Correspondence may also be sent to City Hall at 241 W. South St., Kalamazoo, MI 49007.
Mayor David Anderson
David Anderson is a graduate of Kalamazoo Central and Western Michigan University (B.B.A. Accountancy) and has been a city resident for 40 years. He has been employed by Integrated Services of Kalamazoo (formerly Kalamazoo Community Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services) since 1992, where he currently serves as the Director of Housing and Facilities. Prior to joining Integrated Services of Kalamazoo, Mayor Anderson worked as a self-employed building contractor for over 20 years.
In addition to serving on the City Commission, Mayor Anderson serves as President of the LIFT Foundation and as Chairperson of the Kalamazoo County Public Housing Commission.
Mayor Anderson is married to Cori Terry of Wellspring/Cori Terry & Dancers, a Kalamazoo-based modern dance company located in the Epic Center in downtown Kalamazoo. David and Cori are the parents of four grown daughters, all of whom are graduates of Kalamazoo Central High School.
Vice Mayor Patrese Griffin
Patrese Griffin is a lifelong Kalamazoo resident who is dedicated to taking Kalamazoo to a higher level for all. She is a committed community activist who has over 16 years experience in property management, specifically managing single family, conventional, senior housing, subsidized housing, and housing for those with mental disabilities.
For the last 3 years, Patrese has facilitated successes as a housing advocate. She researched and created a process that resulted in funding for housing application assistance, and helped to place families into housing. She has also been instrumental in writing equitable housing policies that increase housing choices and options for all residents of Kalamazoo.
Patrese also serves in many other capacities, including: Board Vice-Chair of the Fair Housing Center of Southwest Michigan, Shared Prosperity Kalamazoo (SPK) organizing committee member, member of the Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation (TRHT) Law and Separation Design Teams, member of Vibrant Kalamazoo Board, member of the ISAAC Housing Task Force, Co-Chair of the Allocation and Accountability Team for Continuum of Care, Chair of Housing Resources Incorporated’s (HRI) Housing Equity Advisory Committee, and member of the Southwest Michigan Regional Prosperity Initiative Community Development subcommittee. She also volunteers with the United Way and Michigan United; and also does equity, cultural awareness, and evaluation training for various non-profit organizations.
Patrese is a graduate of Hackett Catholic Central High School and has taken Business Management courses at Kalamazoo Valley Community College. Patrese resides on the Northside of Kalamazoo, and is married to artist/activist/community organizer Ed Genesis. They are parents to one adult son, and a son and daughter who are enrolled in Kalamazoo Public Schools.
Commissioner Erin Knott
Erin Knott began her career investing resources and human capital into the greater Kalamazoo community. She served at the Vine Neighborhood Association as the Crime Prevention Organizer before spending eight years with the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC). While at LISC, Erin connected residents, business owners, and other stakeholders with resources to revitalize Kalamazoo’s urban neighborhoods and to improve the overall quality of life.
In 2006, Erin began working as a political strategist and has been afforded the opportunity to work with members of Congress, the state legislature, and volunteer teams across the state. Currently, Erin is the Field Manager for Equality Michigan. She is the former Michigan State Director for Enroll America, and has previously served as the Michigan Political Director for America Votes and Deputy Director for Michigan Citizen Action. Erin provides political consulting services to firms across Michigan and in Washington D.C. She also teaches at Western Michigan University in the School of Social Work and is a proud member of the Professional Instructors Organization, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers Michigan.
Erin has made Kalamazoo her home for over twenty years. After graduating from Western Michigan University in 1996, Erin lived in the Vine neighborhood for ten years before she purchased and restored her home in the Douglas neighborhood. She received her Masters in Administration with a concentration in Philanthropy and Fund Development from Central Michigan University. Erin is a graduate of Leadership Kalamazoo, and has served on a number of community and volunteer organizations including; the Edison Neighborhood Association, Kalamazoo Community Foundation's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Equality Fund, Smartshop Metal Arts Collective, Vine Neighborhood Association and Vine Ventures, Inc.
Commissioner Jack Urban
Jack Urban, a chemical engineer (Ph.D, U of Md.), has resided in Kalamazoo since 1967. His public service began with membership, and later chairmanship, of the City’s Zoning Board of Appeals and as a member of its Environmental Concerns Committee.
Since his retirement from Upjohn/Pharmacia in 1998, he received training in grassroots community organizing from the Gamaliel Foundation and, beginning in 2004, has held leadership positions within ISAAC (Interfaith Strategy for Advocacy and Action in the Community). While active in ISAAC, he served as treasurer and as leader of its Divided Region Task Force, the forerunner of Friends of Transit. This organization advocates for improved public transportation in Kalamazoo County and assists in transportation millage campaigns.
After completing a one-year term on the newly formed Kalamazoo County Transportation Authority board (2006), Commissioner Urban was elected to the Kalamazoo County Commission representing District 1, and served in that capacity for six years (2007 through 2012.
Commissioner Urban is a founding member of the Kalamazoo River Cleanup Coalition, a grassroots organization which advocates for the complete removal of PCB-contaminated material from the Allied Superfund Site. Prior to his election to the Kalamazoo City Commission, he was chair of the Kalamazoo County Public Art Commission and a member of the Kalamazoo County Parks Foundation, the group raising funds for completion of the Kalamazoo River Valley Trailway.
Jack is married to the former Carol Mannion of Baltimore and has two grown sons, Sam and Ben, both of whom reside and work in the Kalamazoo area.
Commissioner Eric Cunningham
A lifetime resident of Kalamazoo, Michigan, Commissioner Eric B. Cunningham has spent his entire adult career being of service of others. He was first appointed to the Kalamazoo city commission in 2015, and demonstrates his leadership and continued passion for improving the lives Kalamazoo's residents, through the various community organizations to which he belongs.
In 2013, Mr. Cunningham became The Community Communications Vice Chairman, for The Kalamazoo Champion Child Welfare Executive Steering Committee; which was a state wide initiative to increase communications for Child Welfare within the Department of Health and Human Services. Mr. Cunningham is also a member of The Kalamazoo Child Abuse and Neglect Council (KCAN); The Black Arts and Cultural Center (BACC); and The Fatherhood Network. Mr. Cunningham’s passion for youth has been also been manifested in his coaching of the Kalamazoo Northside Rocket Football team (ages 4-6) since 2010.
Mr. Cunningham graduated from Kalamazoo Central High School in 2000, and earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Management; as well as his Master's degree in Public Administration from Western Michigan University. His career history includes employment with the State of Michigan since 2003.
Commissioner Jeanne Hess
Commissioner Jeanne Hess retired in August 2019 after 35 years as professor and chair of the Physical Education Department, and Volleyball Coach at Kalamazoo College. During her career, she spent time as assistant basketball coach, assistant softball coach and associate chaplain. Commissioner Hess was also involved in VISIONS, ERACCE, and Green Dot training at the college.
Jeanne earned her B.S. from the University of Michigan, where she was a member of the Wolverine volleyball team for four years. She went on to earn her M.A. in Exercise Science at Western Michigan University; a prelude to her teaching and coaching career at Kalamazoo College. WMU inducted her into the Alumni Honor Academy for Health, Physical Education and Recreation in April 2010. In 2014, Kalamazoo College awarded her the prestigious Lux Esto Award of Excellence, which honors an employee who has served Kalamazoo College for 26 or more years for a superlative record of stewardship and innovation. She also received the Frances Diebold Award for outstanding service to the community in June of 2000.
She sports five MIAA championships, six NCAA Division III Tournament appearances, and has been named regional coach of the year twice in 1990 and 1991. She has led her team on four international touring, competition, and service trips to China, Costa Rica, Trinidad, and South Africa.
Hess published her first book, Sportuality: Finding Joy in the Games in 2012, and MaxAbility: Who Are You and What Are You Here For will be published in 2019. In addition to her work as an author, Jeanne serves as an officiant for celebrating life transitions. She serves her faith community of St. Thomas More Student Parish, and volunteers with the Kalamazoo Gospel Mission, Ministry with Community, Diaper Bank of Kalamazoo, Habitat for Humanity, United Way, and Kalamazoo Communities in Schools.
Hess and her husband, Jim, reside in Kalamazoo, where Jim is a residential realtor with Jaqua Realtors. They have two sons, Andrew and Kevan, who graduated from Kalamazoo Central High School. Andrew played baseball at the University of Michigan, and Kevan played baseball at Western Michigan University. Both were drafted by the Detroit Tigers, where each played in the minor leagues for 3 years. Following his athletic career, Kevan chose to make his home in Kalamazoo, where he is a realtor at Jaqua Realtors. Jim and Jeanne are now proud grandparents of three.
Commissioner Chris Praedel
Chris Praedel was born and raised in Kalamazoo. His roots run deep. He is a proud graduate of both Kalamazoo Central High School and Western Michigan University, earning a BA in Management. He also attained the rank of Eagle Scout in local Troop 205.
Chris currently resides in the Milwood neighborhood with his young family. Chris is passionate about literacy and our youth.
Immediately following graduation, he committed to two-years of national service in the Americorp program, Teach for America. He taught in a self-contained third grade and technology classroom in South Chicago and Los Angeles during his service term. He also earned an MA in Teaching from Dominican University. He has mentored two area teenage boys through Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Since 2011, he has remained active in the Kalamazoo Literacy Council (KLC), serving in numerous capacities from Board President (2012-2013; 2014-2015), Annual Campaign Chair (2013, 2015), and numerous subcommittee chairs. The KLC is a nonprofit volunteer tutor organization dedicated to enhancing the lives of adults who struggle to read. He was honored by the organization as the 2016 Literacy Advocate of the Year.
Chris has remained active in a number of other area non-profit organizations, including serving as the fund development chair of the Kalamazoo Promise’s 10th Anniversary Celebration, to provide programming to celebrate Promise students, educators, and the greater community. Most recently, he is working with a group of local history enthusiasts on the Kalamazoo Abraham Lincoln Project (KLP) to place a statue in Bronson Park and educational programming to commemorate Lincoln’s only visit to Michigan in 1856.
In 2015, Chris was appointed to the City of Kalamazoo’s 21-member Blue Ribbon Panel on Revenue. The Panel was instructed to research, study, and explore revenue options that, when considered together, would address the City’s General Fund structural budget imbalance.
Chris currently serves as the Director of Events at Western Michigan University’s Office of University Advancement. In his role, he manages an event team which plans and executes alumni, donor and community events, including managing Heritage Hall (Alumni Center) facilities. In this role he successfully organized a Guinness World Record attempt in 2016 for the most marriage vow renewals in one place. He was honored with the 2018 WMU Spirit Award and 2017 Make A Difference Award, both peer-to-peer honors. He recently was a Celebrity Dancer in WMU/Kazoo’s Dancing with the Stars, raising funds for the WMU Dance Department.
Appointees, Boards, and Commissions
The City Commission appoints and directs the activities of the City Manager, City Attorney, City Clerk, City Assessor and Internal Auditor. The Commission also appoints members to Kalamazoo's various boards and commissions, which serve an advisory role to the Commission.
As required by the City Commission rules, a pdf schedule of regular meetings (13 KB) is established and published before January 1 of each year. The City Commission typically meets on the first and third Monday of each month, although the schedule is subject to change due to holidays and special meetings.
Meeting agendas and agenda packets are typically published on the Thursday prior to each regular business meeting and are available online here (along with meeting minutes once available). If you would like to automatically receive City Commission meeting agendas when they are published, you can join the distribution list. Commission meeting agendas and minutes prior to July 2015 are available here.
City Commission meetings are broadcast live on Public Media Network and are available on their website after a brief post-production period. Meetings are also streamed live and available on the City's YouTube Channel.
The City Commission has established bylaws or pdf rules (41 KB) governing its meeting procedures, citizen advisory boards and commissions, the assignment of Commissioners to committees and subcommittees, and other administrative matters. These rules are available pdf here (41 KB) .