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Committed | Proven Leadership | Collaborative | Results Driven

Senita Lenear is a wife, of the Reverend Dallas Lenear, mother, business owner and civic leader who has been elected to and completed terms as a Grand Rapids Public School Board member and Third Ward commissioner in the City of Grand Rapids. She moved to Grand Rapids at nine and have lived here ever since. She’s a Creston Polar Bear, Cornerstone Eagle and have served on a number of non-profit boards. She has union experience and later corporate leadership experience at the largest healthcare insurance provider in the state of Michigan, where her experience in human resources, management and community relations have been beneficial as she has served in public office. Senita was elected as the Third Ward City Commissioner in the August primary 2013. She officially took office in Jan. 2014. She was re-elected in 2017 for her second term that was extended through December 2022.

Since joining the Commission, she has served as chairwoman of the Mayor’s Safe Alliance for Everyone (SAFE) Task Force, established by Mayor George Heartwell, which developed a violence-reduction strategy in 2015 and continues to fund grassroot organizations and individuals who have interest in pitching creative ideas to reduce violence in their community.

She also served on the Great Housing Strategies committee, along with Commissioners Ruth Kelly and Elias Lumpkins, which provided recommendations for addressing our community’s housing needs.

Additionally, she served on the Kent County’s Friend of the Court and Lead Task Forces; both were designed to research and making recommendations that positively impacted the community and elevated the services being provided. Commissioner Lenear spearheaded the efforts to expand Madison Square Corridor District Authority to Southtown, which spans across six business districts on the south side of the city. After the expansion, she worked diligently, alongside community members, to draft the city’s only “Business” area specific plan, which is designed to guide investments and interest within those six business districts. Commissioner Lenear helped with facilitation of the MARCH Committee’s efforts for the street naming of both Martin Luther King Jr Street and César E. Chávez Ave – the committee was co-chaired by Commissioner Robert Womack and State School board member, Lupe Ramos-Montigny. The street renaming efforts expanded across two cities, when Comm. Lenear formally asked East Grand Rapids to join in the effort.”

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During her tenure, she launched a work group to study human trafficking and has been journeying with community members and organizations to bring awareness to this growing problem in our city, only slowed by the COVID pandemic.

Commissioner Lenear has more than 25 years of business experience, which includes a variety of leadership positions at the largest healthcare insurance provider in the state of Michigan and co-owning an event planning and business consulting firm. Her background and experience allow her to feel comfortable sitting at any and every table with people from all walks of life. It also plays out in her no-nonsense approach to serving the citizens of Grand Rapids. She’s been an advocate for community engagement, increased customer service, and reducing the red tape that sometimes exists between government and the people they serve. She was proud to serve and did so humbly and with integrity, dedication, excitement and with the inclusion of community voices.

Commissioner Lenear has been honored with a number of community awards, including Cornerstone University’s 2014 Alumna of the Year, Grand Rapids Community College’s GIANT Award, Grand Rapids Business Journal’s 50 Most Influential Women, YWCA’s Tribute Award, Urban League of West Michigan’s Leadership Award, Zeta Phi Beta’s Woman of the Year and GRCC’s Alumna of the year among many others.

In addition to her public service as City Commissioner, Senita was appointed to the Grand Rapids Public Schools Board of Education in October 2007. Two years later, she was elected by Grand Rapids citizens to serve a four-year term on the GRPS Board of Education and served over 2 years as the board president.

She’s a Creston Polar Bear, mother, wife of the Reverend Dallas Lenear and respected friend to the Grand Rapids community, which she moved into at the tender age of 9.

The community applauded her service as commissioner and there have been many excited about her candidacy for Mayor in the City of Grand Rapids.

Accomplishments & Priorities

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Commissioner Lenear is very interested in the discussions and recommendations that are filtering out of the work of Grand Action 2.0. As we take development to the next level, it is imperative to continue to build on what has already been accomplished. Engaging in discussion surrounding the amphitheater is a priority for Senita Lenear, if elected mayor. Having already provided input in the river restoration plans, Commissioner Lenear will lead the commission in engaging in the plan that will be designed for all Grand Rapidians.

Commissioner Lenear, very early on, listened to the voices of stakeholders who were coming to Commission Meetings expressing their concerns about housing climate. In 2014, her first year in office as a Third Ward commissioner, she joined forces with then commissioners Elias Lumpkins and Ruth Kelly to advocate for a review of housing. As a result, the three commissioners co-chaired the Great Housing Strategies review of housing issues with local agencies, non-profits, businesses and neighborhood associations. The outcome of this work was recommendations to address housing needs. It was immediately apparent to Commissioner Lenear that our housing issues needed the Commissions attention. As a result, we have looked at ways to address policy to increase affordability, while providing a diverse housing stock to address the variety of needs. That was the beginning and it continued through her entire tenure as commissioner. Policy changes that incentivized developers to build more affordable housing, while balancing the need for missing middle housing. As mayor, commissioner Lenear will forge relationships with neighboring cities and municipalities to broaden the housing discussion into a regional discussion.

Commissioner Lenear served as the chairwoman for Mayor Heartwell’s Safe Alliance for Everyone (SAFE) Task Force, an innovative and system-based violence reduction strategy, in 2015. Since the inception, and continuing to this day, SAFE has supported over $600,000 in grants to grassroots organizations and individuals who lead anti-violence strategies in Grand Rapids. As commissioner, Senita Lenear championed this work, which also includes police and community relations, and continues to serve on the task force advocating for proven results and increased funding.

Frustrated at the inability to capture tax increment funding through the singular Madison Square CID, Commissioner Lenear, along with other stakeholders, walked through a 12-month process to expand the solo district to 6 business districts that made up one CIA called Southtown. Soon after Southtown CIA was created, Commissioner Lenear, along with a different group of stakeholders, spent 1.5 years developing a Business Area Specific Plan (BASP) that covers specific needs and desires of businesses within 5 of the 6 districts. As a result, If you drive around Madison Square, Alger Heights, Boston Square, MLK/Easter, Division Ave. South, and Seymour Square business districts, you will see a noticeable difference in the landscaping, facades, and decor. These public investments in small businesses allow local businesses to stretch their budgets to contribute to vibrant business districts. As Mayor, Senita Lenear will encourage all citywide CIAs to implement programming that increases business vibrancy in neighborhoods. Additionally, where there are gaps in CIAs, she will champion that expansion. The work of the citywide masterplan is to address some of the gaps that exists across the city.

The City’s economic development data shows the lack of financial investments within the Third Ward. As a result, households and businesses have missed opportunities to thrive at the same level as other wards. Before the city’s data was published, Commissioner Lenear was championing funding for the Third Ward Equity Fund, which had a number of initiatives that it funded. Commissioner Lenear was able to secure $50,000 the first year and upon her departure as commissioner, the annual allocation had increased to $1 Mil. While championing funding for TWEF, she highlighted the need for funding for Plainfield and 1st Ward. Her goal is to address inequities and they exist across the city’s wards. The TWEF has contributed to the MLK Lodge project, a “keeping people in their homes” foreclosure prevention initiative, and lead awareness campaign, along with funding for facade improvements in business districts outside of the Southtown CIA.

As a growing city with increased modes of transportation, Commissioner Lenear championed providing shelter at city bus stops, in order to increase ridership on The Rapid. Across the city’s neighborhoods and downtown, the City, alongside its partners DGRI and The Rapid, invested in these shelters, many that have seating and electrical outlets run by solar panels. The next stage will be expanding the shelters with cooling and heating sources.

The City of Grand Rapids has embraced a community-wide carbon neutral and Commissioner Lenear has interest in learning more about this plan and encourage implementation with the City and broader community.

It is important that as these priorities and ideas are implemented, they are accessible for the community to utilize. Supporting the current, effective administrative staff of the City and encouraging policies and procedures to provide excellence in the services we provide to all parties who engage with the city, is a value for Senita Lenear. Building on the high-level service that comes through our 311 system and continuously spreading that throughout the organization will allow for consistent, timely and thorough responses, in addition to accessibility of services online.

Commissioner Lenear launched and led a countywide task force that reviewed policies and brought awareness to the human trafficking issues that exists in our community. This workgroup was made up of survivors, practitioners, interested individuals and professionals throughout the community. The awareness work was only halted by COVID.

As commissioner, Senita Lenear was an advocate for addressing the housing needs and increasing economic development by creating an economic plan dubbed A2P or L2P.  Alpine, 28th Street and Plainfield or Lake Michigan Drive, 28th Street and Plainfield. There are stretches of land on these streets that have the capacity for creative development, which could include housing and businesses. Commissioner Lenear will make the research surrounding the needs a priority for the Commission.

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What Others Say...

I have watched Senita work for more than 10 years…from School Board to Commission seat. She is a dynamic, genuine, concerned leader. Most importantly she is REAL!

I support her because she is good people her and her husband and she us doing an excellent job now and she would be great fior our Mayor and she a Creston Polar Bear.

I support Senita because she is qualified, committed, experienced, capable, dependable, bold, courageous to serve as the next Mayor of the City of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

She is awesome! A truely wonderful community leader who is committed to serving all!

Senita is the candidate you can count on to listen, take action, and get results. Her tenure as Third Ward City Commissioner and GRPS Board President resulted in positive outcomes for our communities.

Senita has always been one to lend a helping hand, from participating in church programs to mentoring young women into scholars and entrepreneurs. She’s been a bright light in our community and I am happy to support her on this journey.

I believe that Senita would consider the whole community when making policy decisions about our city. Her work has brought light to neighborhoods previously ignored in city planning and investing.

I support Senita because I fully believe that representation matters and she is a strong Black woman who believes in the community that she serves.

She is an advocate for all of Grand Rapids. She is competent, compassionate and courageous.

I support Senita because she has been committed to equality and fights for that in Grand Rapids.

Senita serves the Greater Grand Rapids with her yes outfront. If you ask, she will support you. I love that about her the most, that she will support you but I love her smile and positive perspective even the more.

Wishing you every success! You will make an excellent Mayor, and a tremendous asset to the City.

I support higher standards and excellence, therefore I support Senita Lenear!

I’m backing Senita for Mayor of Grand Rapids without hesitation. She’s the real deal – genuine, forward-thinking, and deeply committed to our community.

Her track record of solid visionary leadership and her commitment to the city of Grand Rapids is without comparison!

Paid for by the Committee to Elect Senita Lenear