HOLLAND — Rep. Jim Lilly, R-Park Township, is leaving public office six months early for a lobbying job.
Lilly, who was expected to exit the Michigan House at the end of December when his third term as a state representative ends, announced Thursday he will exit the Legislature on July 1 to become vice president for government affairs at Fortune 500 grocery company SpartanNash. Lilly is prevented by Michigan's term limits on state representatives from seeking a fourth term in the House.
SpartanNash, headquartered in Byron Center, is a major food distributor and owner of several retail supermarket chains in the Midwest including Family Fare and D&W Fresh Market.
In his role at SpartanNash, Lilly will develop strategies to advocate on behalf of the company at "various levels of government," Lilly told The Detroit News.
“This is a great opportunity to help move this entire country forward on issues related to labor shortages and supply chain challenges,” said Lilly, R-Park Township, in a statement announcing the move.
“I have always been passionate about solving problems faced by families and local businesses in our community, and that’s why I know this is the right time to make the transition to work on these issues in the private sector. It is hard to leave public service and the Legislature behind to focus on issues at the federal level, but I know this is the best way I can give back and have a meaningful impact both now and for the next several years.”
Lilly was not available Friday for comment.
Lilly's district, the 89th House District, covers the western half of Ottawa County and includes the townships of Grand Haven, Olive, Park, Port Sheldon, Robinson, Blendon, Crockery and Spring Lake, and the cities of Ferrysburg and Grand Haven.
Nearly all of Lilly's district will become the 88th District in the upcoming election cycle under the newly redrawn statehouse district maps, while Lilly's home of Park Township will be part of the new 86th District.
To select a representative to finish out Lilly's term, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will need to call a special election. The special election could be administered as a standalone election or as a separate ballot at the general election in November. The person elected would serve in the Michigan House through the end of December.
Whitmer's press office told The Sentinel the office will respond to questions about the special election timeline for the 89th District "once we have more information to share on next steps."
Speaker of the House Jason Wentworth, R-Farwell, congratulated Lilly on his "new chapter" in a statement.
“This is a great opportunity, and I sincerely wish him the best. Until the time comes, we will work closely together to transition the leadership of the Rules Committee and make sure Rep. Lilly’s constituents are taken care of until a new representative is chosen this fall," Wentworth said. Lilly is chair of the House Rules and Competitiveness Committee.
This article originally appeared on The Holland Sentinel: Jim Lilly resigns from Michigan House for SpartanNash job