vote V-E-T!




The V-E-T Candidates

Two other candidates and I have found that, although we have differing political views, we have important commitments in common. (See our shared platform below.) We will be voting for each other in November, and we invite you to join us. If you are pro-schools, pro-teachers, and pro-Caledonia, vet your candidates and vote V-E-T!

Eric VanGessel

Eric VanGessel is a 48-year-old Caledonia resident whose wife, Melissa, serves as a kindergarten teacher at Emmons Lake Elementary School, and their 16-year-old son attends Caledonia High School. Eric has a bachelor’s degree in economics and finance and a master’s degree in business administration. He currently works as a Vice President of Commercial Underwriting and Construction Management for BayFirst Financial Corporation.  Eric has served the Caledonia Community in multiple ways during the past 11 years, including: Caledonia Village trustee, member of the Caledonia Village Planning Commission, vice president of the Emmons Lake Elementary PTO, finance council chair at Holy Family Parish, and treasurer of the Caledonia Education Foundation.   

James Ernest

Dr. James Ernest, a scholar and editor, works as a publisher of academic books. When his work brought him to Grand Rapids in 2003, his family located in Caledonia because of the schools. His children both graduated from Caledonia High School. James helped organize and lead the Odyssey of the Mind program at Kraft Meadows. His bachelor’s degree is in philosophy and ancient language studies; his two master’s degrees are in classical studies and in biblical, theological, and pastoral studies. His PhD work in theology focused on the history of scriptural interpretation. While in seminary, he taught Greek to divinity students. While a graduate student in Boston, he taught Latin to undergrads and served as a substitute teacher in urban public high schools. After moving to Caledonia, he taught graduate seminars at Calvin Seminary for several years. He is a past chair of the council of elders at Thornapple Covenant Church. Since 2015 he has been Vice President and Editor-and-Chief at Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing.

Mary Anne Timmer

Mary Anne Timmer, a retired CPA, served on Caledonia’s school board from 2010 through 2016, including a couple of years of her board service as treasurer. Mary Anne’s bachelor’s degree is in accounting. Her daughter and her son attended Caledonia schools from kindergarten through high school. Mary Anne helped create our school district’s first strategic plan. She served on the community board that successfully won a millage to build the new Caledonia public library. She founded the community Veteran’s Day celebration hosted by Emmons Lake and led the school board to participate in the adopt-a-road program. She has worked to ensure that special education services are available to students and family. Her additional service to various community organizations includes long-time support for Kids Food Basket.




The V-E-T Shared Platform

Above all, we are committed to:

  • civility in all interactions
  • placing students’ needs above politics

We share these values:

  • PUBLIC EDUCATION as a pillar of life in Caledonia & democracy in America
  • FULLY ROUNDED CURRICULUM, including STEM, humanities, arts, social sciences, athletics, and vocational
  • STUDENT-CENTERED policies & practices
  • SECURITY & SAFETY in our buildings & at our events
  • RESPECT & APPRECIATION for Caledonia’s excellent teachers, staff & administrators
  • ACCEPTANCE & CARE for our diverse student population
  • RESPONSIBILITY & TRANSPARENCY in planning & spending
  • CLEAR COMMUNICATION between schools, parents & community

For examples of concrete initiatives that we support, see Eric VanGessel‘s Priorities page.



This website paid for by
James Ernest for Caledonia Community Schools
Steven S. White, Treasurer
PO Box 62, Caledonia, MI 49316