When David Shaffer finished his first two years of college at GRCC in 1998, he followed a family tradition. “My father attended GRJC and my older sister had just finished there and transferred to Western,” he says.
When he was elected 1st Ward City Commissioner in 2009, he upheld another family tradition, that of giving back to his community.
“My parents instilled in me at a young age the responsibility to give back to the community and make the world a better place,” says Shaffer. “As I got more involved through volunteering during college I realized that if you wanted to make a large impact, you needed to have a say in how our laws are set up and how dollars are distributed through the political process.”
Going to GRCC, says Shaffer, paid off in more ways than one.
“I was fortunate enough to be awarded the Presidential Scholarship, which helped offset the cost of tuition, he says. “Involvement outside of the classroom gave me a great foundation and allowed me to learn on so many different levels. The small class size and access to labs and teachers gave me the ability to understand the material first hand and ask as many questions as needed.”
“The involvement in Service Learning and Student Congress prepared me and developed me as a leader as well as reinforced the need to give back to the community. I would call it a complete learning experience,” Shaffer says, adding, “All of my instructors and interaction with administrators demonstrated a real desire to see me succeed. I easily transferred to Michigan State and completed a Bachelor of Science in Social Science with a Public Policy Emphasis.”
The commissioner recalls a particular experience that he said may have foreshadowed the kind of work he has chosen.
“My first real political action came as Vice President of Student Congress. At the end of a fall semester the Administration and Teachers Union were involved in a contract dispute and there was a threat to not post grades. A number of students were concerned as they needed [transcripts] to transfer to a 4-year institution so we decided to get bold. We rented a semi- trailer and parked it in the loading dock that was across from the Main Building. We attached a huge canvas to the side and had students sign it, asking for both sides to reach an agreement and not to place the student's futures in the middle of it. We made the 6 PM news and shortly after, the contract was settled. He adds, “What part we played I can't be sure, but it felt like we made a difference.”
In addition to being a commissioner, Shaffer has his "day job" as Branch Manager for Macatawa Bank in downtown Grand Rapids. He lives on the northwest side of Grand Rapids with “my amazing wife, Carrie and three great kids – Addison, 3, and 1-year-old twins, son Brayden and daughter Ella.