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Our Values


As the local face of the Democratic Party, the Forest Hills Democratic Club embraces party platforms at the national and state level. Our club’s existence in suburban West Michigan presents an opportunity for us to advocate for a more inclusive and equitable community by rallying around these particular values. As a club, our values inspire how we choose to support legislation, candidates, and local policies. Read more about them:



The Democratic party is the party of high-quality public education for all students. We believe public schools serve as a window and as a mirror to the students they serve and are responsible for creating a welcoming, safe, and productive environment for students regardless of their identity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic background, ability, race, or religion.


Along with the Michigan Democratic Party:


●      We believe public schools are a public good and require adequate funding. We oppose any efforts to reduce public school funds, including through the implementation of voucher-like programs or the redirection public funds toward subsidizing religious private schools that are known to discriminate


●      We view educators as trusted experts in their field and must be equipped with the necessary resources, including professional development, required to meet the state’s high standards. We align with unions in asking for higher pay and proper resources for educators


●      We demand that maintaining secure, safe, and orderly schools is a priority, including promoting secure storage practices for guns


●      We believe textbooks and educational materials should be written only by recognized experts in each subject, and that teaching material for our public schools should not be subject to modification in order to appease or promote a political, religious, or social agenda


●      We view strong, continuing STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, music and mathematics) education as vital for students to compete in the 21st century economy


●      We see collaboration between parents, educators and schools as paramount


●      We support increased resources and support by schools, school boards, and school districts to address race-sensitive issues, through education and dialogue. These actions support students’ development and their ability to recognize, understand, avoid, and respond to stereotypes, bigotry, racism, sexism, and other inequalities. Students should be encouraged to pursue knowledge in all its forms, and an understanding of our social, political, and cultural institutions, their history, evolution, success and failings


●      Finally, we believe that today’s students require mental health support to navigate a complex environment. Education budgets should allow for proper funding of mental health services and support staff.



We believe in free and fair elections that include processes for all eligible voters to cast a ballot. The rights for all adults 18 and older were hard-fought and the ability to exercise these rights should be easy and accessible. We stand against any efforts to restrict the ballot, especially among diverse and marginalized populations. Acceptance of election outcomes through a safe, secure, respected, and sound process is critical to the success of our democracy.


We also demand that voter districts be fairly drawn to avoid the harmful practice of gerrymandering. We support the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (MIRCRC)’s practice to create new equitable boundaries in the state that determine its Congressional, Senate, and House voting districts following the U.S. Census Bureau’s population count.




As Democrats, we understand the significance of the 1973 Roe v Wade ruling on the freedom of Americans to decide their own destinies. The ability to make decisions on when and if they start a family has had massive positive impacts on their educational attainment, career trajectory, and earning potential.  Now, in the wake of the Dobbs v Jackson Women's Health Organization decision, we mourn the fact that the Supreme Court has stripped these freedoms from millions of Americans.


●      We acknowledge that this change will have negative impacts on the lives of American citizens, especially low-income individuals and diverse communities


●      We believe that everyone in America should have legal and convenient access to contraception, fertility services, and abortion care.


●      We support legislation that will guarantee reproductive freedom.


●      We support candidates who are pro-choice champions.


●      We trust individuals to make the best reproductive health decisions for themselves and their family with their healthcare provider and without interference from any government entity.


There’s no perfectly written constitution and we need a legislature that supports reproductive rights, not one that seeks efforts to restrict choice.



We support the Second Amendment. We also support common sense gun safety regulations that help keep our communities safe.


Practical regulations, judged consistent with the Second Amendment that have been shown to be effective in reducing gun crimes in other states should be adopted in Michigan. These regulations include:



●      Closing the Charleston Loophole. The Charleston Loophole is a gap at the federal level, which allows gun sales to proceed after three business days (even if the background check has not yet been completed). Michigan could close this loophole by providing background check operators more time. We should never allow a sale to go through until the background check is complete. Across the U.S. the Charleston Loophole enabled illegal purchasers to buy over 5,800 guns in 2020.


●      Secure Storage. Requiring gun owners to lock-up guns helps keep our children safe and studies have shown it also helps reduce the rate of gun suicide, which accounts for 61% of gun deaths in Michigan. Republicans in the state legislature have repeatedly blocked attempts to bring secure storage laws to a vote. Why? They receive support from the gun lobby while not having to go on record for voting against legislation most citizens support.


●      Mental Health. Many states bar the purchase of guns by people that have been involuntarily committed to institutions or judged to be a danger to themselves or others for mental health reasons. Michigan lacks this prohibition and should institute it immediately.


●      Convicted Domestic Abusers and Convicted Stalkers. Michigan should require convicted domestic abusers and stalkers to relinquish guns in their possession and they should be prohibited from buying them in the future. Today, people convicted of these crimes are allowed to own guns in our State. Between 2010 and 2019, there were 825 domestic violence murders and non-negligent manslaughters in Michigan. This needs to stop and keeping guns out of the hands of these convicts is critically important.


●      Training. The State of Massachusetts requires all gun owners to undergo either a Gun Safety Course or a Hunting Course. These courses are one day long and ensure gun owners are proficient in the safe handling, storage and use of firearms. There is no legitimate use for a gun that does not require proficiency, yet Michigan does not require any training.


●      Assault Rifles and High Capacity Magazines. There is no legitimate reason to allow these guns to be carried in public. We believe assault rifles should be stored and used only at licensed gun ranges.


●      Schools. We need to take a more proactive approach to protect our schools in Michigan. Gun lobbyists have promoted the arming of teachers and students, but there is no evidence from any state or country in the world to suggest this is an effective strategy.  Our recommendation is to implement a comprehensive Threat Assessment Program in Michigan. 


School threat assessment programs help identify students at risk of committing violence—and get them the help they need. The ideal program relies on multidisciplinary teams, including teachers, administrators and counselors, trained to intervene at the earliest warning sign. These programs are school-based and do not rely on the criminal justice system. The majority of school shooters are students - and in 77% of school shootings, at least one person, usually a peer, knew of the shooter’s plan. Intervening prior to the incident is the only way to protect our children. 


●      Demonstrations and in the Capitol. The presence of guns does not add to civilized discourse - it only serves to intimidate. We believe guns should be banned from the state capitol building and political protests.


The regulations above have, in varying forms, already been implemented by other states. Our rate of gun deaths is roughly 4 times that of Massachusetts and 3 times that of New York. We can keep our community safe and protect the Second Amendment. 



Forest Hills Dems Club believes it is imperative to pass the Equality Act that will finally enshrine the rights and protections necessary for Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, Bisexual, Queer, Intersexual, Asexual (LGTBQIA+) people to live fully and equitably in the USA.


Currently, Federal law does not fully protect our LGTBQIA+ loved ones. The Equality Act will strengthen anti-discrimination protections for everyone, including LGTBQIA+ people, women, people with disabilities, people of color, and other protected classes. The bill will add protections from discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation and gender identity to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and expand the definition of public accommodations. It also bars discrimination cloaked as religious freedom from being be used against any protected class.


Forest Hills Dems Club will work to:


●      Outlaw discrimination against LGBTQIA+ people in housing, public accommodations, access to credit, education, jury service, and federal programs.


●      Protect LGBTQIA+ people from being discriminated against when seeking to adopt or foster children


●      Shield LGBTQIA+ children from bullying and assault, and guarantee transgender students’ access to facilities based on their gender identity.


●      Ensure federally funded programs for older adults are inclusive for LGBTQIA+ seniors.


●      Protect the ability for transgender and non-binary people to procure official government identification documents that accurately reflect their gender identity


Protection from discrimination should not depend on ones zip code or the hope that someone else is a person of good will. Passing the Equality Act will end inconsistencies that vary by geography and ensure that no matter where an LGBTQIA+ person lives or visits, they enjoy the same protections as all other people.



We believe in economic growth because as John F Kennedy’s asserted, “A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats.”


Americans deserve an economy that works for everyone—not just for the wealthy and the well-connected. But since the 1970’s, our system has been increasingly rigged against the American people. Forest Hills Dems Club believes that it is a moral and an economic imperative to support working families by rebuilding the American middle class for the 21st century, making sure that this time everyone can thrive, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability status, national origin, age, or ZIP code.


We, along with the National Democratic Party, commit to forging a new social and economic contract with the American people, including:


●      Investing in the American people and promoting shared prosperity, not one that benefits only big corporations and the wealthiest few.


●      Affirming housing is a right and not a privilege, making a commitment that no one will be homeless or go hungry in the richest country on earth.


●      Establishing economic contracts that raise wages and restore workers’ rights to organize, join a union, and collectively bargain.


●      Finally supporting working families and the middle class by securing equal pay for women and paid family leave for all.


●      Providing access for all to reliable and affordable banking and financial services.


●      Enacting fundamental reforms to address structural and systemic racism and entrenched income and wealth inequality in our economy, and investing in building equity and mobility for the people of color who have been left out and left behind for generations.



The Forest Hills area by name captures the beauty of our stunning community and natural landscape. Our resources are life-sustaining and a source of economic benefit. We want our drinking water, where our children play, and where we live to be clean and safe.


Along with the Michigan Democratic Party:

●      We support expanding and protecting existing conservancy regions, wildlife preserves, and butterfly flyways and establishing additional such areas within the state to foster water quality, environmental, and aesthetic benefits.

●      We believe in holding polluters accountable.

●      PFAS is Michigan's most widespread, serious contamination problem since the PBB crisis of the 1970’s. Thousands of Michiganders’ water supplies have been impacted, and the full scope of the contamination from these so-called "forever chemicals" is not yet known. We must prevent further contamination from affecting our soil, water supply and ecosystem.

●      We support the expansion of infrastructure that allows for affordable, accessible electric vehicle (EV) use in Michigan.



President Biden’s Safer America plan states:


We need to fund police who walk the beat, know the neighborhood, are accountable to those they are sworn to serve, and build community trust and safety. We need to invest in mental health and substance use treatment services, crisis responders, and social workers to reduce the burden on police officers and prevent violent crime. We need to expand community violence interventions – led by trusted messengers breaking the cycle of violence and trauma.


Forest Hills Dems Club fully supports this approach.


Unfortunately, the City of Grand Rapids has a long and difficult history with policing Black and African American neighborhoods. The tragic shooting of Patrick Lyoya is only the most recent example. 


The following list is an excerpt from Bryce Huffman’s April 13, 2022 article from Bridge Michigan on the GRPD’s most recent troubled history:


●     In March 2017, police officers pulled over and aimed guns at a group of five young unarmed Black boys. The incident was followed by heated community discussions at City Commission meetings. Former Chief of Police Dave Rahinsky, who has since retired, apologized to the boys, their families and the Black community, but he maintained that officers followed protocol.


●     The next month, a traffic study was released that showed Black motorists in Grand Rapids were twice as likely to be pulled over as white motorists


●     In December 2017, the police faced scrutiny when an officer pointed a gun at an unarmed 11-year-old Black girl before searching and handcuffing her. This incident led to the department adopting a new youth interactions policy.


●     In 2018, there were two more incidents of police officers either pointing guns at or handcuffing unarmed Black and Brown children, prompting the department to update its youth interaction policy just a year after it was created.


●     In November 2018, citizens criticized the department after a police captain called U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on U.S. citizen and Marine combat veteran Jilmar Ramos-Gomez, even though he was carrying multiple forms of ID, proving he was a US citizen.


●     In late 2019, a city-sponsored survey found that 3 in 10 Grand Rapids residents didn’t trust the police department.


This was the context in which the Patrick Lyoya shooting took place. This is why there is so much distrust.


Violent crime in Grand Rapids has increased in 2022. People of color are disproportionately victimized by violent crime and defunding police will only lead to more tragedy.


Working Toward a Solution

We believe the current GRPD leadership is sincere in wanting to partner with the community to build a better future. However, we need to keep pressure on reforms. Specifically, accelerating the adoption of de-escalation techniques. Reforming qualified immunity is also key so that officers know they are fully accountable for their actions.


We need to broaden the commitment to community policing and ensure police officers are supported by social workers and mental health professionals in the field. The police are too often called-in to ‘solve’ problems they are not equipped to handle. The public safety issues we face are too complex to be boiled down to “pro-police” and “anti-police.” We need effective policing that makes our city safer - and builds trust between police and all of our citizens.

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