Koetje to seek Sikkema seat


This story focuses on the recently announced candidacy of former State Representative James Koetje. Koetje becomes the 3rd Republican to announce their running for this seat, along with Joanne Voorhees and Mark Jansen, making all of the GOP candidates former members of the State House. The article however, doesn’t provide readers with information on Koetje’s platform or voting record while in the House, instead it focuses on a 2002 dispute about whether or not Koetje moved his residence in order to run in a re-districted race. We have documented over the years this type of coverage of elections in reports entitled “An Informed Vote.” One previous example was also a State House race, where the only story that ran 30-days prior to the election was about a yard sign dispute in 2002 – see page 15 of the report. Readers should ask themselves how this type of reporting helps voters make decisions on who to vote for?

Article Text

Former state representative will challenge Jansen, Voorhees in Republican primary

Jim Koetje is running again, and he is moving again.

In announcing to several area city councils this week that he intends to run for state Senate, the Grandville attorney becomes the third former lawmaker seeking to succeed term-limited Senate Majority Leader Ken Sikkema, R-Wyoming.

He joins ex-lawmakers Mark Jansen and Joanne Voorhees in what promises to be a competitive Republican primary.

“I look forward to getting back to lend my experience and ideas” to the Legislature, said Koetje, 50, who served in Sikkema’s old House seat from 1998 to 2004.

Koetje raised eye-brows by buying a Walker house so he could run in his redistricted seat in 2002. And even though his Grandville home is in the Senate district, he plans to move again – this time to Wyoming’s “panhandle” neighborhood, where new homes are being built. He says the move is not designed to run out of a populous base or to cut into Voorhees’ territory, but “to get something more accommodating to my family.”

Koetje sold his Walker home last spring, only weeks after his final House term ended. He bought the home to move into the redistricted seat just before the 2002 race, but created a furor when it was learned that he was still making Grandville his primary residence.

Koetje, who intends to sell his Grandville home, said he doesn’t expect residency to be an issue in the campaign.

“I don’t know what people will say, but I’m running based on who I am and what I can bring to the table,” he said. “I’m not intending to engage in any sort of negative campaigning. People will vote for who they believe can do the best job and who represents their best interests.”

Voorhees, of Wyoming, also served in the House from 1998 – 2004, while Jansen, of Grand Rapids Township, served from 1996 – 2002. Democrat Albert Abbasse has also announced his candidacy.

The Senate seat covers much of Kent County surrounding Grand Rapids. With a population of nearly 70,000, Wyoming is the district’s largest city.

More than 60 percent of Koetje’s old districts are in the Senate district’s boundaries, Koetje said.

Koetje’s positions on various business-related committees during his House tenure would serve him well in the Senate, he said.

“The experience will be very helpful in these times where the biggest issue is jobs and job retention,” he said. “The focus of this race will be the economy and jobs.”

Author: mediamouse

Grand Rapids independent media // mediamouse.org