KALAMAZOO –– Bobby Hopewell, mayor of Kalamazoo since 2007, announced on Monday evening that he won’t seek re-election next year.
Hopewell made the announcement at the Kalamazoo City Commission meeting, according to reports, as well as in a statement on his personal website.
Hopewell’s current term runs through November of 2019.
“I know this may come as a bit of surprise to some folks, but this is not sudden for me and part of a plan I’ve had for myself for a while,” Hopewell wrote, noting that in a city such as Kalamazoo with a council-manager system of government, it’s often city managers and staff that make much of the decisions.
“(The city manager) is the only guy in this city that controls the checkbook and gives final direction to staff,” Hopewell wrote. “Certainly, based on the policies of a majority of the City Commission, but not based on the Mayors (sic) wishes. The Mayor and City Commission can’t just write a check to make things happen, that is not how it works.”
In the statement, Hopewell cited a number of accomplishments and laid out several policy priorities, chief among them development of more affordable housing and focusing on neighborhood business development.
Hopewell cited initiatives such as the Kalamazoo Foundation for Excellence as steps in the right direction, but also said there’s considerably more work to be done to address generational poverty.
“But I can not say it more strongly that poverty and lack of opportunity is our city’s largest challenge,” Hopewell wrote. “This plan is based on strategies that are place/neighborhood based. Strategies that will be specially focused on people of color who are disproportionately left behind.”