Democrat Fran Bruder Melgar and Republican Lisa Brayton may not have experience in West Michigan politics, but both hope their impressive resumes could sway voters in Kalamazoo County Commission District 11.
District 11 in Kalamazoo County covers the eastern and northern portions of Portage.
One of the two candidates would be filling the commission seat vacated by Democrat Meredith Place. Place decided not to seek re-election to the county commission and was running instead for Kalamazoo County Clerk.
Bruder Melgar is currently a pediatrician, internist at Intercare Community Health Network in Bangor and Pullman.
The doctor and mother of five, Bruder Melgar was also board member of Residential Opportunities Inc. She has done medical mission work in the Ivory Coast, Ghana and Dominican Republic.
Bruder Melgar was also volunteered for number of service projects in Kalamazoo, Nicaragua and Guatemala.
She is also a current member of the Kalamazoo Area League of Women Voters.
If elected to the Kalamazoo County Board of Commissioners, Bruder Melgar said he hopes to offer a medical voice for the county.
“I see how clean air and water and access to affordable housing and to medical and mental health services affects the quality of life of my patients,” Bruder Melgar said. “I seek to lead the way in building bridges in today’s politically polarized atmosphere, by working to balance the needs of the entire community in areas of access to and affordability of healthcare, justice and personal safety, the environment, education, and the economy.”
Similarly, Bruder Melgar’s opponent is also in the business of helping people; Lisa Brayton is a local dental hygienist.
According to her election website, Brayton met her husband Dan Brayton, while at Detroit Mercy School of Dentistry. The pair started Daniel J. Brayton, D.D.S, in Portage.
A mother of two, Brayton also started the started the nonprofit charity, Haley's Hope in 2002. For about 16 years, the charity fed, sheltered, and gifted Kalamazoo Country Day and Portage Public Schools.
Brayton said she has always been an advocate for people which ultimately motivated her to run for office.
Brayton said she hopes to parlay that quality, in addition to the the financial experience she has gained through her charity, experience on multiple boards and running a dental practice for over 20 years, to her desired position on the Kalamazoo County Board of Commissioners.
“One of my top priorities is to lower the taxes of our elderly population,” Brayton said. “I find it so horrible that these folks are on a limited income, and yet their taxes increase so much that they find themselves having to leave their beloved home. I will be determined to hold people accountable, to be fiscally responsible.”
Although opponents, both candidates made similar promises to the community if elected.
“The commission board is lacking fiscal responsibility and people who truly care for folks,” Brayton said. “Thus, with my experience and determination, I am hoping to make a huge difference for our wonderful people in our community.”
Brayton’s Democratic opponent, Bruder Melgar, echoed a similar sentiment.
“I was raised on the principles of service, honesty, generosity and faith, by parents who encouraged hard work, open mindedness, and asking questions,” Bruder Melgar said. “As a commissioner, I will encourage citizen engagement in discussions of unmet needs in our community, and will support inclusive policies and a balanced budget.”