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Sara Bajema wants to bring stability to District 11

OTTAWA COUNTY – Sara Bajema admits she’s not your typical politician, but she’s passionate about her community.

“I don’t know if I’ll be a normal politician,” she said. “I’m just a mom who wants to make sure our kids have a good place to grow, learn and thrive.”

Bajema, 48, is running as a Republican for Ottawa County District 11, which includes Coopersville and the townships of Chester, Servies, Polkton, Tallmadge and Wright.

District 11 is currently represented by Ottawa Impact Commissioner Allison Miedema, who is seeking re-election. Other candidates for the seat are Republican Dick Van Dop and Democrat Keith Courtade.

Ottawa Impact, a far-right fundamentalist group, was founded in 2021 amid frustrations with COVID-19 mitigation measures at the province and state level. The group currently has a controlling majority of seven seats on the 11-member board and made a series of controversial decisions in 2023 that led to four ongoing lawsuits and a brief investigation from the attorney general’s office.

“I watched what was happening with the group from the beginning and I saw what they were doing,” Bajema said. “And I remember saying to my neighbor, ‘I don’t know who this group is, but they’re organized, they’re sitting together, and that kind of scares me — because I don’t know what their agenda is.’”

She said OI commissioners’ abrupt hiring and firing decisions have led to unnecessary lawsuits and increased costs to taxpayers.

“I think when you look at elected office and you deal with government affairs and things like that, there are different rules that you have to abide by and other things that you have to follow,” Bajema said. “What scares me is the way we’re quickly firing people, the way we’re hiring… we’re spending money, we’re filing lawsuits that seem like a waste of taxpayer money – just to meet a certain requirement. agenda.”

Bajema worked in the banking sector for 20 years before switching to commercial real estate. She said her financial background makes her hyper-aware of policies and regulations.

“I think the starting point for me would be, ‘Are we doing things the way they should be done? Are we still within our policy parameters? Aren’t we putting other things at risk?'”

Born in Germany to Army parents, Bajema said her family moved to West Michigan when she was three years old.

“My father is from Mexico and immigrated to the US. He became a citizen just before I was born. My parents taught me that it’s okay to have different opinions because everyone focuses on different things.

“In my district, I have a very rural area. I work with a lot of farmers here. We have a lot of people who focus on very different things than, say, Grand Haven. Having different opinions is good because it will allow us to making sure we cover everything that suits everyone.”

The current majority, she said, doesn’t work that way.

“It scares me that their ultimate agenda is not about the best of the province, but more about self-interest,” she said. “And I feel like if I don’t run, I’m going to regret it. I’m going to regret not being able to help make a positive change.”

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Dates to know

  • Tuesday May 7: Special recall election for District 2
  • Tuesday August 6: Michigan primaries
  • Tuesday the 5th of November: Michigan general election

— Sarah Leach is editor-in-chief of The Holland Sentinel. Contact her at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @SentinelLeach.