With the City of South Haven’s primaries approaching this Tuesday, August 3, 2021, the OutCenter of Southwest Michigan sent out a questionnaire to the 3 candidates running for the South Haven mayorship. Those candidates include Ahmmad Goodwin, Scott Smith, and Tim Stegeman and those running for City Council: Kam Daugherty, Wendi Onuki, Joe Reeser, and George Sleeper. Each candidate was emailed three times and called once regarding completing the questionnaire, or their campaigns were messaged directly on their websites or other social media. 

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In the interest of transparency and accountability in governance, we are publishing the results prior to the election in order to help educate the voting public about the position of all candidates regarding the non-discrimination ordinance. 

From protecting and supporting LGBTQ+ public employees to addressing the varied needs of LGBTQ+ community members and their families, city officials play a powerful role in advancing inclusive reforms and setting a model for other jurisdictions to follow in service of equality and civil rights.

Ahmmad Goodwin, Joe Reeser, George Sleeper, Scott Smith, and Tim Stegeman did not return the questionnaire. Kim Daugherty refused to return the questionnaire.

The Questions and Responses:

1) Understanding that LGBTQ+ Michiganders residing in the City of South Haven are largely unprotected from discrimination, and understanding that the South Haven City Commission has the ability to adopt measures to amend the city’s non-discrimination ordinance to provide equal protections to LGBTQ+ individuals residing, working, and/or vacationing in the City of South Haven – joining the 47 Michigan cities and towns – and understanding that studies have shown such ordinances benefit the cities and towns that enact them economically, et al., would you, if elected as Mayor to the City of South Haven in 2021, support amending the city’s current non-discrimination ordinance to include equal protections for LGBTQ+ residents, employees, and visitors of the City of South Haven?

Wendi Onuki: Yes

2) One way local governments can support the LGBTQ+ community is to provide their own employees and government-funded organizations with LGBTQ+ related training opportunities. This is an important way for local leaders to improve the delivery of services to LGBTQ+ residents in their community. If elected as Mayor, would you promote or mandate training that addresses the diverse needs of LGBTQ+ communities, and hiring local experts to conduct such training?

Wendi Onuki: Yes

3) Creating inclusive practices within the workings of local government can greatly address the needs and gaps faced by LGBTQ+ residents. If elected mayor, would you support adopting an ordinance that requires a clause in all contracts with the city that prohibits contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression?

Wendi Onuki: Yes

4) If elected mayor, would you support incentive programs aimed at rewarding minority-owned businesses (including LGBTQ+ business owners) to operate in the city?

Wendi Onuki: Yes

5) If elected mayor, would you support the appointment of an LGBTQ+ liaison within the city commission who could allow input and recommendations from LGBTQ+ residents to be shared directly with the city leaders?

Wendi Onuki: Yes


Wendi Onuki: “I am only running for city council and not mayor, but as a progressive candidate and a member of our Diversity Coalition, inclusion, social justice and equity are incredibly important to me and I will work hard to get them addressed at city hall in terms of protections, ordinances and practices. I would love to see the city create a human rights commission and adopt an ordinance that protects and celebrates the LGBTQ+ community and others; the idea of a liaison is also great. I will always listen to concerns and input from the most marginalized and vulnerable members of our community whose voices deserve to be heard, and serve with their interests in mind.”

Be an educated voter!

The OutCenter, no matter the outcome of this election, continues to educate others up to and including candidates and elected officials. We need Southwest Michigan to be our home, too.

And know that the OutCenter remains steadfast in our efforts to bring people together in all our diversity, create communities that care about everyone equally, and to ensure that Southwest Michigan is a safe place for the more than 10,000 LGBTQ+ people that call it home.

To view a PDF of the candidate’s response, see below.

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