In Democratic primaries for Ann Arbor city council seats held on Tuesday, incumbent Stephen Kunselman polled 65 more votes than challenger Julie Grand, which translated into a 3.5-point margin.
Kunselman’s win was relatively narrow compared to the 29-point spread in the Ward 4 race between Jack Eaton and incumbent Marcia Higgins. That margin translated into 559 more votes for Eaton.
Totals and percents in Ward 3: Kunselman received 927 votes (51.8%) and Grand received 862 votes (48.2%).
Totals and percents in Ward 4: Eaton received 1,233 votes (64.6%) and Higgins received 674 votes (35.3%).
Complete unofficial results with various cuts of the data are available on the Washtenaw County clerk’s election results website.
Voter turnout was 9.24% in Ward 3 and 9.58% in Ward 4.
Of the city’s five wards, those were the only two primaries that were contested. No Republican candidates filed this year. The council consists of two representatives from each ward plus the mayor for a total of 11 members. Councilmembers serve two-year terms, so every year one of the seats is up for election. This is not a mayoral election year.
With Kunselman’s victory in the primary, it sets up the possibility of a Democratic primary race in 2014 between the sitting councilmember Kunselman and incumbent mayor John Hieftje. Kunselman has said that if Hieftje seeks an eighth term, he’d run against him.
But Kunselman will need to get past the Nov. 5 general election in Ward 3, when he’ll face independent Sam DeVarti. DeVarti is a UM student, and son of long-time Kunselman supporter Dave DeVarti – who’s a former councilmember and former Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board member. Add in the fact that Kunselman’s wife Letitia and the younger DeVarti are co-workers at the Northside Grill and it points to a campaign that’s more likely to be waged on respectful than on bitter terms.
Other races now basically set for the fall include possibly a three-way race between incumbent Ward 1 Democrat Sabra Briere and independents Jeff Hayner and Jaclyn Vresics. As of the end of the day on Aug. 6, the city clerk was still in the process of verifying signatures for Vresics in advance of the Aug. 7 deadline.
In Ward 2, incumbent independent Jane Lumm will face challenges from Democrat Kirk Westphal (who was unopposed in the Aug. 6 primary) and independent Conrad Brown. Of the city council races in the fall, the Ward 2 race is likely to draw the most interest citywide.
In Ward 4, Eaton will almost certainly not face a challenger on November’s ballot. In Ward 5, incumbent Democrat Mike Anglin will likely be the only choice presented to voters.
In this report we provide some additional detail on the Ward 3 and Ward 4 primary result maps.
Kunselman’s 65-vote margin in Ward 3 is comparable to the 58-vote spread between Carsten Hohnke and Vivienne Armentrout in the 2008 Ward 5 Democratic primary. That resulted in a recount, which confirmed Hohnke’s win.
Percentages in the Ward 3 map caption have been corrected from initial publication.
The first results to be reported out of Ward 4 came from Precincts 4-4 and 4-8 – just 10 minutes after the polls closed. Based on Eaton’s performance in the 2010 and 2012 primaries, which he contested unsuccessfully against Margie Teall, those combined precincts should have gone to Higgins, if she was to have any chance of winning. So from the 172-123 margin Eaton had there, it was already apparent that Eaton had won. The only question was by how much.
Now Eaton is likely to join Teall at the council table.
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