This is the second in a series of profiles of the five candidates running for Lowell City Council in November. Check back each week for new profiles, which are being published in alphabetical order according to the candidate’s last names.
Although he graduated from Ferris State University with a degree in political science, Jake Davenport has no intention of becoming a stereotypical politician. The 25-year old wants to bring a new perspective to Lowell City Council and be part of creating policies that will encourage business growth, fix infrastructure and improve transparency. However, he’s not doing it for personal glory or profit.
“I’m not running to boost my own career,” he says. “I’m not looking to put a feather in my hat.”
Sit down with Davenport, and you won’t necessarily see the comfortable poise exhibited by some of his older competitors. However, it is quickly clear that the youngest candidate in the race has an earnest desire to do the job of councilmember well. With few exceptions, he has attended every city council meeting this year and says he has read through the City of Lowell budget line-by-line.
If elected, Davenport’s goal is to be well-versed in city matters from day one. And when it comes to why he’d running for a seat on the council, his answer is simple: “I love this community.”
From Boy Scout to City Council Candidate
Being prepared might come naturally for Davenport because he is, quite literally, a Boy Scout. He was a member of Troop 102 as a student and is now an adult volunteer. Beyond scouting, Davenport volunteers in other capacities within the community, such as recently helping install a new playground at Bushnell Elementary School.
“Integrity is probably the most important thing for me,” he says. He’s lived in Lowell his whole life and points to the city’s caring character as one of its strongest assets. From Pink Arrow to the FROM Neighbor-to-Neighbor program, Davenport says the community has a close-knit camaraderie that makes it special.
Davenport works at Encore Floral in Grand Rapids and enjoy dabbling in photography and gardening in his spare time. As a single man with no children, he may have a different take on city issues and that could be a positive for the community, he notes. “I bring a lot of new ideas to city council,” he says. “I’m not going to recycle ideas that didn’t work.”
Second Time Running
This isn’t Davenport’s first run for Lowell City Council. Voters might remember seeing his name on the ballot in 2017. Davenport was one of five candidates to run that year, and he garnered 12% of the vote.
“I’m a lot more focused [this year],” he says. He’s made it a priority to meet with as many people as possible and learn what issues are most important to residents. Based on those conversations, he believes it’s imperative for the council to be proactive. “Previous city councils have been overly reactive to issues,” he says. “One of my goals is to think ahead.”
That means, for example, trying to find a way to ensure that any road repairs done now include maintenance plans so streets don’t crumble from disrepair in the future. However, Davenport is also aware that services comes with costs, and many people already feel priced out of living in the city. Davenport says, “I’ve heard from a lot of people that they love Lowell, but they don’t want to live in the city because of property taxes.”
A proponent of small government, Davenport wants to look at what the city can do to encourage business growth by streamlining approval processes. “I want people to be able to come here and start a business and be successful,” he explains. The candidate also thinks there may be ways to be more transparent and accessible to residents, such streaming meetings on Facebook Live.
However, it remains to be seen whether Lowell voters will give him a chance to put these and other plans into action. Davenport is undoubtedly hoping that on November 5, the second time will be the charm.