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Posted on: December 5, 2023

Welcome, Commissioners Groff-Blaszak and Hunter

New commissioners Groff-Blaszak and Hunter

Abbie Groff-Blaszak and Bradley Hunter are the newest members of the East Grand Rapids City Commission.

Groff-Blaszak serves the Third Ward, while Hunter represents the city’s Second Ward. Both were elected to the commission in November 2023 and sworn in Dec. 4.

Groff-Blaszak replaces Commissioner John Arendshorst, who served 2019-23 and decided not to run for re-election. Hunter succeeds Commissioner Karey Hamrick, who served in the seat 2015-23 and was term limited.

Commissioner Abbie Groff-BlaszakGroff-Blaszak has called EGR home since 2013. She has been an active volunteer, community educator and organizer with extensive experience in public service and governance. Professionally, Groff-Blaszak previously spent 20 years as a public school teacher and administrator, a programs and policy leader at the Michigan Department of Education and as a nonprofit director. 

She is excited about serving in a new role as an elected official.

“I know that good governance is hard work,” Groff-Blaszak said. “That work is energizing because it creates outcomes that best meet the needs of the people it serves.

“I’m excited to listen and serve. I’m excited to encourage more interest and involvement in our local government so we can continue improving our community in ways that meet the needs of as many people as possible. I look forward to building a truly inclusive and accessible East Grand Rapids.”

Groff-Blaszak holds a bachelor’s degree in history and political science from Indiana University and a master’s degree in education administration, planning and social policy from Harvard University. Currently, she serves as head brewer at Creston Brewery and as an adjunct faculty member at Grand Rapids Community College in the craft brewing program. 

She loves many things about EGR, including the people, schools, walkability, resources and recreational spaces. She’s encouraged by a collective willingness to pursue sustainability as a community priority.

“I want to hear from you! I’m certainly here to help solve challenges, but I also want to hear your ideas and opinions. I want to cocreate a vision that best serves our community and our role in the larger ecosystems of West Michigan.”

Groff-Blaszak lives in EGR with her husband, Robert, daughter Ellie and poodle, Queso. 

Commissioner Bradley HunterHunter has lived in EGR since 2006 and has been an active community member. He is a member of the City’s E-GReen Sustainability Initiative Committee, has participated in Reeds Lake cleanup events, has coached youth basketball, soccer and football through the EGR Parks and Recreation Department and has volunteered at numerous other community events. 

 Professionally, Hunter is a financial advisor with DeLong & Brower in Holland. He said his client-focused occupation – coupled with his longtime community involvement – prepared him for the role of city commissioner. He looks forward to applying these skills to bond and tax projects, as he believes the fiscal strength of EGR and the schools is paramount. 

Hunter previously spent five years as a teacher. In this role, he said he learned how to match students’ energy levels to provide effective instruction. He considers education the cornerstone of any community and looks forward to partnering with teachers, administrators and the school board on issues related to keeping public schools strong. 

 Hunter is excited to continue the great work done by previous commissioners and advocates for change based on resident feedback.

When asked what he loves most about EGR, Hunter cited the parks and sense of community. As a father with three children in East Grand Rapids Public Schools, he especially appreciates all the resources designed to help EGR students succeed.  

“The sense of community involvement and collaboration amongst neighbors is a unique quality to our community,” Hunter said. “I would love to see that energy used at the commission level to enact positive change.

“I encourage residents to be actively involved in their local government and issues. I am always available to have a conversation via email or phone – or for a cup of coffee in Gaslight Village.”

Hunter has a bachelor’s degree in education from Central Michigan University and a master’s degree in education with an emphasis in curriculum and instruction from the University of Phoenix. 

A native of Holland, he lives in EGR with his wife, Karen, and their three children: Joe, Elise and Evan.

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