Hi, I'm Justin
I grew up in a single parent, middle class home. My mother worked as a Correctional Officer at the State Prison of Southern Michigan in my hometown of Jackson. Her sacrifice of health, and life-threatening work, provided my sister and I a relatively comfortable childhood. My mother’s tough, blue-collar mentality made a strong impression on me as a child and has helped shape me into the adult I am today.
In my freshmen year of high school, life as I knew it came to an end. A career-ending, work-related injury forced my mother to file for disability. A family that was already living paycheck-to-paycheck was then forced to give up their home, and I spent months going from one friend’s couch to another. It was at this time that I became a victim to bullying at high school. I dropped out. To this day, this remains my single greatest regret in life. It took me several years to realize the opportunities in life an education can provide. I attended adult-education classes, earned a GED, and attended community college, all while I was also working, at the time holding two jobs simultaneously.
A FIRST-GENERATION COLLEGE GRADUATE
I met the love of my life in my mid-twenties and we moved to West Michigan in 2012. I majored in History at Grand Valley State University. I then continued studies at Central Michigan University and earned a Masters in American History. After graduation, I returned to Grand Valley State University, where I have been teaching undergraduate classes in American History, Liberal Education, and Multi-Cultural Diversity in the United States.
MY COMMITMENT TO WEST MICHIGAN
Growing up, I was surrounded by civil servants, either through law enforcement, corrections, or military. I have learned firsthand the commitment needed to be a valuable public servant and I will bring this level of commitment to the Kent County Board of Commissioners. Honesty, unfortunately, is no longer associated with politics and politicians. I am not a politician; I am first and foremost an educator. As an educator, I value honesty and recognition of facts without bias. In this era of disinformation, stating the truth (and being true to your values) is more important then ever. As an educator, I have also honed critical thinking skills, as well as out of the box thinking, which will be useful on the County Commission. As a young adult, the challenge of having my life disrupted because of the hard times that fell upon my family also helps me keep things in perspective. I appreciate the true value of even the simplest of things, such as a home and stable living situation. I have sincere empathy for those who are not as fortunate and are struggling, because I have been there. It is these values that I hope to bring to the Kent County Commission, and I hope I can earn your vote.