Although Sharon Shah is making her first foray into local government as a candidate for Lowell City Council, her name is already familiar to many residents. She’s one of the moderators for the Lowell Community Chatter Facebook group, which serves as a sort of virtual water cooler for people to discuss almost whatever is on their minds.
“I’ve been connected to the pulse of Lowell now for five years through (volunteering) on the community page,” according to Shah.
However, she is ready to do more than moderate informal conversations between community members. The 36-year-old says she has a heart for serving people and that’s why she decided to run for elected office. “I’ve felt called to action because I feel this world is after our kids,” she says.
Shah is one of five people – two incumbents and three challengers — running for three spots on Lowell City Council during this year’s general election on Nov. 7, 2023.
Right Time to Serve the Community
A mother of a teen daughter, Shah has lived in the community for about a decade – one year in the township and nine years in the city. She works as an independent housecleaner and says she is at a good place in life to become more involved locally.
While she hasn’t sat on any government boards or commissions, she has been a regular presence at city council meetings since declaring her candidacy. Shah has also been a volunteer for Alpha Care Center for seven years, serving as a receptionist and a car seat technician. Beyond that, she is a Kids Hope USA mentor for a student at Cherry Creek Elementary School and also involved at Impact Church.
“I’m different, and I can’t be fit into a box,” Shah says. Part of why she thinks she’d be a good member of Lowell City Council is that she isn’t “cliquey” and is open to feedback from all residents. “I don’t run with one group,” according to Shah. “I can accept and tolerate different views.”
Shah also believes her organization skills and training related to project management would benefit the council. The latter is something she learned as part of completing an architectural technician degree at Grand Rapids Community College.
Goal to Become “Agent of Connections”
Overall, Shah believes the current city council is healthy although she also feels that some members have obvious biases which can lead to communication breakdowns. “I would like to fill the gap between government and residents,” she says. “Make sure residents feel like their voice is being heard.”
To that end, she says her goal as a councilmember would be to become an “agent of connections.” She notes that there are more people in the city than just those with the loudest voices, and she wants to be sure all residents are considered during decision-making.
Shah is aware that some in the community believe she is in support of selling Lowell Light & Power or eliminating the Lowell Police Department. She says neither is true, and she is not sure how those rumors began. On the contrary, Shah says she is a strong supporter of both LLP and the LPD.
Looking forward, Shah says she would love to return to the days of focusing on core values as pillars of the community. It’s something she remembers as an initiative started within Lowell Area Schools. Students were encouraged to exemplify a different value every month, and she saw the benefit of that extend out into the community.
“The people of Lowell have always been very generous and kind to me,” Shah says.
While growth is inevitable, Shah would like to find a balance between keeping the city’s small town feel while also providing opportunities for more housing. She would also like to develop more greenways in the community. Shah says she wants to help residents feel empowered to take pride in Lowell and “move the city forward in a positive direction without feeling sold out.”
When asked why people should vote for her, Shah points out that she is a team player who wants to work collaboratively with others. She adds, “I am resilient to change and making hard decisions.”