Of the six candidates running in three Ann Arbor districts for the Washtenaw County board of commissioners, only the three Democrats – Andy LaBarre, and incumbents Yousef Rabhi and Conan Smith – attended the Oct. 10 candidate forum moderated by the League of Women Voters of the Ann Arbor Area.
Due to redistricting that takes effect this election cycle, the county board will shrink from 11 districts to 9. Ann Arbor is currently represented by four commissioners, but will have three main districts – 7, 8 and 9 – in the newly constituted board starting in January 2013. [.pdf file of 9-district county map] District 2 will also include a small portion of Ann Arbor, but the incumbent in that district, Republican Dan Smith, is unopposed in the Nov. 6 general election.
In District 7, Andy LaBarre won the Democratic primary and will face Republican David Parker in November. The incumbent, Barbara Bergman, is not seeking re-election.
The incumbent in District 8, Democrat Yousef Rabhi, is running against Republican Joe Baublis and seeking his second term in office. And in District 9, Conan Smith – a Democrat who was first elected in 2004 and has served as board chair over the past two years – faces Republican John Floyd.
In various ways, the Ann Arbor Democrats running for the county board expressed their views that government can be a positive force in people’s lives. LaBarre stressed support for human services, parkland and public transit, while Rabhi emphasized the importance of building a resilient, sustainable community. Smith cited the role of the county board as a convener of community leaders, bringing together people throughout the county to tackle problems like the “human and economic calamity” in Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township. Smith also noted that he expects the new board for the first time will have a majority of commissioners under 50 years old, and will be a “majority minority” board – with more racial diversity than in the past.
All terms for county commissioner are for two years, beginning in January of 2013. Several other district races are contested for the county board, but the League of Women Voters forum included only the Ann Arbor districts. That’s a function of the venue. The forum was held at the studios of Community Television Network in Ann Arbor, and is available online via CTN’s video-on-demand service. Information on local elections can be found on the Washtenaw County clerk’s elections division website. To see a sample ballot for your precinct, visit the Secretary of State’s website.