The Unifying Coalition of Ottawa County claiming to be non-partisan leaves much to question
Published May 25, 2023
Written by Adams
Photography by Simply American
Just because you wrap something in a prettier bow, doesn’t mean you’ve changed the content.
According to their website, the Unifying Coalition of Ottawa County (UCOC) “is unifying Ottawa County against the recent negative impact on our community.” The UCOC claims to be: “non-partisan and committed to building a wide, welcoming table, united in The Common Good.”
The group officially launched to push back against the new majority on the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners—spurred by the closure of the county’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Office, the termination of the county administrator, and the changing of the county’s motto.
Since January 2023, the UCOC had listed their shared goal as: “Vote out Ottawa Impact in ’24.” That statement now has been removed from their website. As of May 2023, the UCOC has a new shared goal: “To mobilize local action toward responsible governance and belonging in Ottawa County.”
In a post on the Facebook group, “Ottawa Objects,” Autumn Lunsford, Co-Director of Vote Common Good: West Michigan, says, “UCOC is a newly formed Coalition that aims to streamline the efforts of ALL the area groups, activists, organizers, businesses, and concerned citizens.”
Listed as the UCOC’s guiding members are the groups Vote Common Good: West Michigan and Ottawa Integrity PAC.
An MLive article said that the UCOC also is backed by the “Ottawa Objects” and “Informed and Inclusive Ottawa County” Facebook pages. The latter recently changed their name to “Ottawa County—Informed & Inclusive Community.”
“Ottawa Objects” and “Ottawa County—Informed & Inclusive Community” are private Facebook groups that lay claim to inclusivity. However, one may join only by giving appropriate answers to each group’s pointed questions.
A recap of the groups involved:
Vote Common Good: West Michigan
Ottawa Integrity PAC
“Ottawa County—Informed & Inclusive Community”
Vote Common Good: West Michigan is a self-proclaimed nonpartisan group. They claim to reexamine and create deeper narratives at the intersection of love and politics. To do so, they purport to bring together candidates, faith leaders, volunteers, activists, and artists involved in local politics aligned with The Common Good Commitments.
Vote Common Good: West Michigan is an arm of the national organization, Vote Common Good, which aims to convince 5% to 15% of American Christians to vote for Democratic and progressive candidates and causes.
Vote Common Good has conducted bus tours, candidate town halls, and training sessions. On January 24, 2020, their director, liberal activist Doug Pagitt, released a statement in which he said, “The March for Life tries to use a narrow stance on abortion to define what it means to be a voter of faith, but most religious voters are more open-minded and won’t be tricked by that.”
In 2022, Vote Common Good: West Michigan endorsed six of the prior Ottawa County Board of Commissioners:
Bergman and Zylstra were the only two who survived the August 3 primary. At the time, the group also conducted a national bus tour called, “Faith, Hope, & Love: Not Insurrections and Christian Nationalism.”
The Vote Common Good: West Michigan Facebook page is a constant barrage of judging others’ Christianity based on whether a person supports the progressive left movements and ideas.
Nick Brock, the executive director of Vote Common Good: West Michigan and a steering committee member of the Unifying Coalition of Ottawa County, believes Americans “need to reexamine and reimagine political and religious rhetoric while also offering non-violent solutions for the issues our country and culture face.”
According to the Vote Common Good website: “Good-hearted Christians, Jews, Muslims, and people of all traditions cannot simply vote for what is best for themselves as individuals or even what is best for their religion, party, race, or nation alone, but must be concerned for the common good. Or, to put it differently, selfish people of every religion and tradition vote for self-interest or partisan interest alone, but good people of every religion vote for the common good.”
A quick look at the Facebook photos of either Vote Common Good or its local arm, Vote Common Good: West Michigan, illuminates just how partisan they are. They support reproductive rights, defunding the police, and demonizing conservative Republicans who fit their definition of “Christian Nationalists.”
A Partisan Guiding Member
Ottawa Integrity PAC was originally created in late September 2021. The group does not claim to be nonpartisan, which can be determined by reviewing their Facebook page. Originally, the executive director was listed as Angela Maxwell. Previously, Maxwell was involved in the Progressive Turnout Project–a voter contact organization dedicated to mobilizing the Democratic Party and defending democracy. During that time, she also was the campaign manager for failed Michigan Senate candidate, Kim Nagy.
The previously mentioned MLive article identifies Kim Nagy as the executive director of Ottawa Integrity PAC. Twice Nagy has run as a Democratic candidate for Michigan Senate and lost to Republican Roger Victory. Additionally, her LinkedIn page says she is the secretary of the Ottawa County Democratic Party. She was also the Chair of the Ottawa County Democratic Party for four years.
In 2022, Ottawa Integrity PAC held hands with Vote Common Good: West Michigan. In fact, Nagy was a “Voice of Common Good.” Ottawa Integrity PAC held events with Vote Common Good: West Michigan and endorsed many of the same candidates. The Ottawa Integrity PAC website shows endorsements of eleven people, seven of them are incumbent Ottawa County Commissioners:
Two of their candidates, Bergman and Zylstra, won in the 2022 election.
While researching the groups involved in the UCOC, it becomes evident the faces and names are all intertwined between various organizations and the Democratic Party:
Kim Nagy (Founder, Interim Executive Director)
Angela Maxwell (Executive Director)
Vote Common Good: West Michigan
Nick Brock (Executive Director)
Autumn Lunsford (Co-Director)
Kim Nagy (Political Consultant)
Becky Steele (Elected Official)
Unifying Coalition of Ottawa County
Nick Brock (Steering Committee)
Autumn Lunsford (Steering Committee)
Seth Getz (Steering Committee)
Kim Nagy (Steering Committee)
Becky Steele (Steering Committee)
The coalition’s name may be new, but the message and people involved are still the same.