A candidate forum held last week at Arrowwood Hills Cooperative Housing on the city’s north side drew both of the Ward 1 city council candidates, but just one of the candidates for mayor. The event was announced only about a day in advance.
Ward 1 Democratic primary city council candidates Sumi Kailasapathy and Don Adams, along with mayoral candidate Stephen Kunselman, answered questions posed by moderator Charles Lewis, who is the program director at the Arrowwood Hills community center. Not able to attend were three other mayoral candidates: Sabra Briere, Sally Petersen, and Christopher Taylor.
The forum was hosted in the context of a collaboration between Arrowwood Hills and the Ann Arbor Democratic Party called “Finding Your Political Voice.”
Kunselman used the occasion to talk about growing up in the 1970s on the west side of Ann Arbor in the Maple-Miller area, and how the west side kids had a rivalry with the kids from the north side – where the forum was being hosted.
Questions posed by Lewis included some contributed by forum attendees, covering a wide range of topics: affordable housing, Ann Arbor SPARK, the balance between downtown and outer neighborhoods, the candidates’ number one priority, police staffing, and the public transit millage.
With the affordable housing question, Lewis focused on the immediate surroundings, by inviting candidates to reflect on the role of local government in supporting cooperative housing – like Arrowwood Hills, which was built in 1969. The cooperative housing complex has an income limit of no more than 95% of the median income for Washtenaw County. Other questions specific to Ward 1 included one about road work on Pontiac Trail and another about crosswalks on Plymouth Road.
Below are clips of recorded audio from The Chronicle’s live audio broadcast of the event, organized by question.
Arrowwood Hills program director Charles Lewis led off with some welcoming remarks, followed by opening remarks from each of the candidates who were present.
Question: Arrowwood is an example of a success story for affordable housing. However, when I hear the mayor’s office talk about affordable housing, it never embraces cooperative housing. Is that something you would be willing to explore? [This question was asked only of Kunselman.]
Ann Arbor SPARK
Question: Explain your position on Ann Arbor SPARK. Would you or do you support giving SPARK an extended contract? Why or why not? [Two issues are currently before the city council. One is the city's contract with SPARK for business attraction and retention services. The other is a possible 5-year or 15-year extension of the LDFA (local development finance authority), which is funded by a tax capture funding mechanism, and which contracts with SPARK for entrepreneurial services.]
Plymouth Road Crosswalks
Question: Do you support improvements to Plymouth Road crosswalks? Could the crosswalks be safer for pedestrians and drivers? If Michigan adopts a state law, would you still support a local ordinance?
AAATA Public Transit Millage
Question: Did you endorse the public transit millage? [The millage, which was approved by voters, was placed on the May 6, 2014 ballot by the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority to fund expanded services in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township.]
Balance: Downtown and Neighborhoods
Question: How would you give equal attention to rebuilding the infrastructure of the downtown area as well as the neighborhoods? How would you raise the $200-300 million necessary to do this?
Number One Priority
Question: What is your number one priority for Ann Arbor? And how would you accomplish it?
Question: What is your position on adding more police officers? [This question was asked only of Adams and Kailasapathy.]
Pontiac Trail Construction Timing
Question: Is the timing of the Pontiac Trail work good, given that a major development is planned, which will bring in heavy trucks and do damage to the part of Pontiac Trail that doesn’t look like the other part?
Candidates were given a chance to make closing remarks. Moderator Charles Lewis also invited them to reflect on a scenario where the University of Michigan owns twice the amount of land inside the city as it does now.
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