Meet David Benac

Copy of David Benac

My earliest memories are of my mom working as a nurse and raising my sister and I in rural Montmorency County. Years later, we moved to Alpena, my mom remarried, and I became part of a large family with deep roots in Michigan. During those years, I worked on our family farm and in our sawmill, before heading off to college at Michigan State.

After finishing my graduate studies at the University of Missouri, I moved to Louisiana, where I began my career as an educator. While there, I worked multiple part-time jobs and even started a small business to make ends meet. After a decade of living in the Gulf South I jumped at the chance to return home to Michigan, and moved to Kalamazoo in 2013 to join the history faculty at Western Michigan University.

Once arriving in Kalamazoo, I jumped into community and university life. I quickly won election as a departmental representative to the Association Council of the American Association of University Professors and joined the Kalamazoo Historic Preservation Council. Over the following years, I joined the steering committee for the Kalamazoo Complete Streets Initiative, helped form Organize West Michigan, co-created and chaired the Kalamazoo Earth Day Festival, won election as Vice Chair of the Michigan Democratic Party Environment Caucus, and to the executive committee of the local Sierra Club, and was a delegate for Senator Bernie Sanders to the Platform Committee of the Democratic National Committee.

I am running for mayor because I love Kalamazoo, but the city is not meeting its potential or charting a path for a future that provides opportunity and equality for all. The primary issues I plan to address as mayor are housing, environmental health, transparency, community development, and opportunity. To achieve these goals, we need a new direction for the city that draws on the strengths of the activists and professionals in our community as well as innovative, progressive solutions that have been implemented throughout the country.

To make Kalamazoo a city of opportunity we must pursue bold, progressive plans. One critical need is to implement a housing first policy and make affordable housing available to all residents. We also need to meet our moral obligation to end our part in the destruction of the planet, which means we need to have the city of Kalamazoo run on 100% renewable energy by 2030. It is also critical that the city guarantees clean water, air, and healthy food as rights for every resident.

My vision of Kalamazoo is a city based on a model of community development, where every resident has a voice in government and every neighborhood prospers under policies designed to maintain and nurture human connection and sustainability. To make that happen we must increase citizen participation in critical decision-making processes and programs (like the Foundation for Excellence) that shape policy and our future. With a government that is not just technically open to citizen participation, but is actively engaged in seeking and empowering communities we will employ new strategies to provide opportunities for our youth, for nurturing small businesses, for creating sustainable and equitable economic development, and for strengthening the social and cultural ties that create community.