The men hoping to clinch the District 10 seat, which includes about half of the city of Portage, on the Kalamazoo County Board of Commissioners have similar background and priorities but differ when it comes to approach.
Democratic incumbent for District 10, Mike Quinn, is seeking his fourth term. He has been on the board since 2017 as well as serving from 2009-2010.
Quinn is a small business owner. He, his wife, Yolanda, and his late mother founded the Shamrock Montessori Center, a pre-school and full-day child care center in Portage.
Similarly, Quinn’s opponent, Republican Charley Coss, is also a business owner.
Coss Communications is an information management company.
“As a small business person, I will include all stakeholders, including businesses large and small. We need a new team to lead the commission. Times are unique and we need unique thinking,” Coss said.
Coss and Quinn both said they plan to use their experience owning a small business to better serve the people of Kalamazoo County and District 10.
“I’m a small business owner and a member of the Workforce Development Committee. We must focus on facilitating recovery from COVID-19 as well as economic growth. Different problems require different approaches. Here, we’re blessed with lots of innovators, and we’ll thrive if we stay alert for the best ideas and opportunities,” Quinn said.
Quinn, a marine veteran, has been endorsed by Portage Mayor Patricia Randall, Kalamazoo Education Association, Local 357 Plumbers & Pipefitters, Local 355 Construction Laborers, Michigan Democrats for Life, and Michigan Right to Life.
As a current county commissioner, Quinn serves on the committees for Workforce Development, Older Adult Services, and Appointments.
During his time on the board, he has also introduced and got passed a resolution calling for the closure of Enbridge Line 5, the Senior Millage, resolution for the State Department that Kalamazoo County consents to accept refugees and a resolution calling on the federal government to offer Medicare for All.
Quinn said he also worked successfully against the downtown arena proposal and helped to get the Homes for All proposal on the Nov. 3 ballot.
“Helping the people here who need help the most, taking care of our county’s financial stability and infrastructure, and building resilience in our community,” Quinn said were his top priorities as a county commissioner.
Coss had also worked to be very active in the community. He previously ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the Kalamazoo County Board of Commissioners and the Kalamazoo City Commission.
He has also served as the vice chair of Kalamazoo City Planning Commission for four years.
The former Special Olympics assistant coach has also worked with the master plan work group for Imagine Kalamazoo and as a national ski patrol first responder at Timber Ridge.
Like his opponent, Coss also has a long list of priorities if elected.
“Support our law enforcement and first responders; prioritize and protect seniors and our vulnerable populations; partner with our business community—pro-jobs; support our veterans; budget better, including following through on audit recommendations,” Coss said are at the top of that list.
In order to achieve those goals, Coss said the commission needs to get back to basics and follow the core responsibilities of the county government.
“We will need a team approach to move many of the necessary changes forward, this will require working across the aisle with all commissioners. We can do this if we have the will,” he said.
Quinn, who said it is a great honor to serve as a county commissioner, said if re-elected, he would lean on his experience and knowledge of the innerworkings of the board to bring future success to the county and District 10.
“Each year, commissioners as a board work with the administration to set a budget, roughly $100 million,” Quinn explained. “How we allocate the resources available is actually the expression of our goals. We set policies and appoint or hire the best people we can get to do the work.”