GVSU student runs for Walker city commissioner

By Karina Lloyd | 10/8/17 11:42pm

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GVL / Courtesy - Amber Dieleman Amber Dieleman and family

Amber Dieleman, a non-traditional student at Grand Valley State University, is running for a seat on the Walker City Commission in Kent County in the Tuesday, Nov. 7, election.

Dieleman manages to stay on top of a packed schedule. Between raising her five kids, working toward her bachelor's degree in clinical exercise science and managing her own cleaning business, her life is nothing short of busy. 

She most recently took time off from her studies to welcome the newest addition to her family, a now one-and-a-half-year-old daughter. Dieleman, 36, will be returning to GVSU for the winter 2018 semester. 

To many, it may seem as though taking on another role would be daunting. Yet, Dieleman has tackled the race for city commissioner with determination. The inspiration that keeps Dieleman pushing through is her faith and her hope to help others in her community.

“I’m not a politician, and I don’t fit the picture of what they would have as a commissioner,” she said. “But that’s okay (because) I’m serving God and I want to service the people. I have come to find out this whole thing is not about politics; it really comes down to the people. It’s about loving people and serving people. 

"I don’t have this list of political education, but what I do have is a heart for people and service.”

Dieleman credits her strong faith for being the main reason she got involved in the race for city commissioner. After a friend had suggested she look into the job, she felt a calling to get involved.

“After I started learning (about what it would take to become commissioner), this desire grew in me that I did not have before,” Dieleman said. “I just learned it’s basically being a servant for the community. I mean, they make policies and they oversee the budget and things of our city, but ultimately, these commissioners are the public servants of their city, and they really have a heart for the people. 

"They do it all for their city and the people, and it just hit me right in my heart for what I had been praying for.”

Dieleman has worked in a series of different jobs throughout her life, including as a commercial cleaner, physical trainer and certified nursing assistant, to name a few. The qualifications Dieleman brings to the office of the city commissioner are unique to her, as they were not all taught in school but instead learned through her own life experiences.

“I’m a people person, and I’ve worked in all these different areas of helping others,” she said. “I feel like I’m qualified because, number one, I feel called. I feel that when you’re called, (you) get qualified. This is a whole new thing to me. ... I have all these different hats that I have worn in my life, and this a brand new hat for me. 

"But with everything I been through, like college, raising a family, my walk with God and service to others, I feel that in my heart, (this job) gives the platform ... to be able to serve others.”

In a lot of ways, GVSU has helped Dieleman create the work ethic necessary to work in the position of city commissioner.

“(As a commissioner) you study the proposals (and) your agenda,” Dieleman said. “College builds character, and it teaches us how to search things out and how to bring understanding and light to certain subjects. And I feel that alone, just going to college and being (a science major) was a lot of training for (this job).”

The major commitment of her political platform is taking care of the police force and fire department.

“Our community grows as our city grows," she said. "So should our commitment to building a stronger and more vibrant community, and along with that is growing and expanding our resources for those who protect and serve.

As the city grows, we will need to keep hiring and provide proper training.”

Another concern for Dieleman is taking care of the city’s roads and sidewalks.

“There are places that don’t have sidewalks where kids are in harm's way because they have to walk to school down the road (that) doesn’t have sidewalks," she said. "(It's) about caring for all these little things that keep us safe.”

Dieleman hopes to use her political platform to give the city of Walker an opportunity to come together and form a stronger community. She hopes to achieve this goal through more community events, like an exercise in the park program and a community garden.

“I would like to bring the community together,” she said. “I would like to have more community events focused on healthy living and connecting with families and neighbors so we're not just a town. We’re a community that knows each other, that grows together. ... I feel the more we can connect, the stronger we will become as a city.”

As far as the future goes, Dieleman is hopeful for her run for office and is very pleased with all the knowledge she has already gained along the way.

“Of course I would love to win, and I would love to have that victory,” she said. “Whatever way it goes, I feel whatever happens is supposed to happen. Maybe I’m here to just learn or serve just as I go. Whatever the outcome, I don't feel my time here is wasted because I have gotten to learn so much, and I have met such wonderful people.”

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