Stories indexed with the term ‘mayoral race’

Mayoral Candidate Forum: CTN Broadcast

The League of Women Voters of the Ann Arbor Area is hosting candidate forums for the Aug. 5, 2014 primary elections, as it does every year for local races.

All the mayoral candidates participated in Ann Arbor's Fourth of July parade. Clockwise from upper left: Sabra Briere, Stephen Kunselman, Christopher Taylor, Sally Petersen.

All the mayoral candidates participated in Ann Arbor’s Fourth of July parade. Clockwise from upper left: Sabra Briere, Stephen Kunselman, Christopher Taylor, Sally Petersen.

Competition for the Democratic Party’s mayoral nomination is a four-way race:  Stephen KunselmanSabra BriereChristopher TaylorSally Petersen.

The scheduled broadcast start time on CTN is at 8 p.m. today (July 9) and can be viewed as a live video stream in the embedded player below.

The relatively large field this year is due to the fact that there is no incumbent in the race. Current mayor John Hieftje announced last year that he would not be seeking re-election to an eighth two-year term. No Republican stepped forward to run. Although one independent candidate, Bryan Kelly, has submitted some petitions to appear on the November ballot, he has not yet filed a sufficient number of signatures to qualify. The winner of the Democratic primary has a strong likelihood of election in the fall, regardless of other candidates who might qualify.

All four mayoral candidates are current members of the city council. Briere and Kunselman are in the middle of their two-year terms and will continue to serve on the council, even if they don’t prevail in the mayor’s race. Taylor and Petersen are at the end of their terms and will not continue their service on the council unless they are elected mayor.

CTN has pre-recorded some comments from candidates in all races. [link to CTN video-on-demand for mayoral candidate comments ]

And the League of Women Voters provides written candidate profiles with responses to questions on its website. [Mayoral profiles]

For a Chronicle column on the mayoral campaigns, see: “Mayoral Folk, Easy Listening

If you’re not sure whether you’re registered to vote or you’re not sure which ward you live in, Michigan’s Secretary of State website offers an easy way to check.

If you don’t think you’ll be able to make it to the polls on Aug. 5, an application to receive an absentee ballot can be downloaded from the city clerk’s website. [.pdf of absentee ballot application form]

Completed applications can be mailed or hand delivered to the clerk’s office on the second floor of city hall, 301 E. Huron St., Ann Arbor, MI 48104. The applications can also be scanned and emailed to

Watch the mayoral candidate forum below. [Full Story]

Column: Mayoral Folk, Easy Listening

Four candidates are competing in Ann Arbor’s Democratic mayoral primary on Aug. 5 – all of them currently members of the city council: Sabra Briere (Ward 1), Sally Petersen (Ward 2), Christopher Taylor (Ward 3) and Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3).


Four quotes from four candidates for mayor in the Ann Arbor Democratic primary.

The fact that all of the primary candidates are current city councilmembers does not in my view reflect positively on Ann Arbor. In a city that prides itself for its diversity, are there really no others beyond established political personalities who’d be willing to serve the community as mayor?

Putting aside that lament, the upside is that all four candidates have been recently vetted by the local electorate. And council service can be a useful common denominator for contrasting the four candidates. Over the last few weeks, they have appeared at several forums, fielding questions in a variety of formats. And the candidates have attempted to contrast themselves with each other. But on occasion that contrast has been hard to hear – because it has been oblique or offered quickly in passing.

The Chronicle has broadcast live audio from three candidate events, hosted by the Ann Arbor Democratic Party, Literati Bookstore and the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Regional Chamber. We wanted to provide that service, because those events would otherwise have been inaccessible – except for those physically present. And even those who were physically present might want to check their recollections against the actual audio recordings.

During these forums, it has been interesting for me to listen to the range of ways that candidates have tried to distinguish themselves from the others. I think in some cases those attempts have not been necessarily conscious and deliberate. And in some cases those attempts rely on lumping other candidates together.

Based on these candidate forums, here’s how I see the most salient aspects of the mayoral campaign strategies – listed in the order that candidates announced their intention to run.

Stephen Kunselman is asking voters to cast their ballots for him the person: A vote for Kunselman is a vote for integrity and dignity, and for someone who was born and raised here.

Christopher Taylor is inviting voters to identify him with the city of Ann Arbor itself in broad terms: If you think Ann Arbor is basically a great place, on the right track, and you’d like it to stay on track, then vote for Taylor.

Sabra Briere is asking voters to notice that she has accurate knowledge of the issues: If you want a mayor who is willing to work down in the weeds on policy questions, and get something done based on analysis of those policy questions, vote for Briere.

Sally Petersen has absolutely pounded the theme of economic development in her campaign messaging: If you want a mayor who will develop a strategy to pay for all the things people say they want, and won’t get distracted from that plan by factional squabbles on the council, vote for Petersen.

Those summaries are a bit one-dimensional. And I’m sure that the candidates themselves would argue that there is much more to their campaigns than that. And there is, of course. But I’d like to share in a bit more detail how I arrived at those summaries. [Full Story]

Chamber Forum: Ann Arbor Mayoral Race

On June 26, the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Regional Chamber hosted a forum for the Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti mayoral candidates.

Sabra Briere, Amanda Edmonds, Debbie Dingell, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

From left: Ann Arbor mayoral candidate Sabra Briere, Ypsilanti mayoral candidate Amanda Edmonds, and Debbie Dingell, who is running for Congress in District 12, a seat currently held by her husband, John Dingell. All three candidates are Democrats and attended the June 26 A2Y Regional Chamber event at the Ann Arbor Regent Hotel on Carpenter Road.

The four Ann Arbor Democratic candidates for mayor attended: Sabra Briere (Ward 1), Sally Petersen (Ward 2), Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3), and Christopher Taylor (Ward 3). They all currently serve on the city council. Both the mayor and city councilmembers serve two-year terms.

There are three Ypsilanti mayoral candidates: Tyrone Bridges, Amanda Edmonds, and Peter Murdock. All are Democrats, but only Murdock currently serves on the city council. Bridges did not attend the June 26 event.

No Republicans are running for mayor in either city for the Aug. 5 primary. More candidates than usual have entered the race at least in part because the incumbent mayors – Democrats John Hieftje of Ann Arbor and Paul Schreiber of Ypsilanti – are not seeking re-election.

This report focuses on the Ann Arbor mayoral race. Each candidate was given five minutes to make a statement and spent another five minutes answering questions from the audience. Questions covered a variety of topics, including regionalism, public transportation, road repair, the possibility of a city income tax, downtown parks, and the regulation of drivers for hire. Taylor was asked specifically about his job as an attorney, and whether he’d continue working in that capacity as mayor. He indicated that he would.

This report includes written summaries of the Ann Arbor candidates’ responses, as well as audio clips from The Chronicle’s live broadcast of the event. (Remarks by the two Ypsilanti mayoral candidates will be reported in a separate article.) Several other forums are planned in the coming weeks, leading up to the Aug. 5 primary.

The June 26 event was held at the Ann Arbor Regent Hotel and moderated by chamber president Diane Keller, with audience questions moderated by Andy LaBarre, the chamber’s vice president of government affairs and administration – who also serves in elected office as a Washtenaw County commissioner. It was followed by a mixer for chamber members and other candidates for local, state and federal offices. [Full Story]

Live: A2/Ypsi Chamber Mayoral Forum

Four Democratic candidates for Ann Arbor mayor – and three Ypsilanti mayoral candidates – will be answering questions at a forum today hosted by the A2Y Regional Chamber of Commerce. The event, held at the Ann Arbor Regent Hotel at 2455 Carpenter Road, begins at 4:30 p.m. The Chronicle will be providing a live audio broadcast. Update: The forum has concluded. Here’s a link to the full recording: [link]. Separate files for remarks and answers from individual candidates are included below.


A detail from cover art for the book “If Mayors Ruled the World: Dysfunctional Nations, Rising Cities” by Benjamin R. Barber. It was displayed on the shelves of Literati Bookstore in downtown Ann Arbor, where another mayoral candidate forum was held on June 25.

All four Ann Arbor mayoral candidates currently serve on the Ann Arbor city council: Sabra Briere (Ward 1), Sally Petersen (Ward 2), Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3) and Christopher Taylor (Ward 3).

The Ypsilanti mayoral candidates are Tyrone Bridges, Amanda Edmonds and Peter Murdock. Murdock currently serves on the Ypsilanti city council.

There are no Republicans running for mayor in either city for the Aug. 5, 2014 primary. In both cities, the incumbent mayors – John Hieftje of Ann Arbor and Paul Schreiber of Ypsilanti – are not seeking re-election.

The June 26 chamber event will include audience questions as well as an opportunity for candidates to talk about their vision for Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti. After the forum, a mixer will be held for chamber members and candidates for local, state and federal offices.

The Chronicle’s live audio broadcast is planned to start around 4:20 p.m. to allow for sorting through technical issues that might arise. [Full Story]

Sound Bites: Two for Ward 1, One for Mayor

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 city council candidates in the Aug. 5, 2014 Democratic primary: Don Adams and incumbent Sumi Kailasapathy. (Photos by the writer)

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 BriereSally 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. [Full Story]

Kelly Takes Out Petitions for Ann Arbor Mayor

Ann Arbor city clerk staff have confirmed that Bryan Kelly has taken out petitions to run for mayor of Ann Arbor as an independent candidate. Kelly took the petitions out on June 3, 2014. To appear on the Nov. 4, 2014 general election ballot, he’ll have until July 17 to collect at least 50 valid signatures from each of the city’s five wards.

Kelly is the only potential candidate so far who could oppose the winner of the August Democratic primary, which features four sitting city councilmembers: Sabra Briere, Sally Petersen, Christopher Taylor and Stephen Kunselman.

Kelly had previously taken out petitions to run for Ward 1 city council, but had been told by the city clerk that he did not meet … [Full Story]

Town Hall: Four Mayoral Candidates

Four candidates for the Democratic mayoral primary in Ann Arbor will appear on Wednesday, April 16 in a town hall format at the University of Michigan’s Ford School of Public Policy to answer questions from students enrolled in Public Policy 456/756.

From top: Petersen, Briere, Kunselman, Taylor.

From top: Petersen, Briere, Kunselman, Taylor.

The class is taught by Ann Arbor mayor John Hieftje, who announced last year that he would not be seeking re-election.

Hieftje and the students organized the town hall format event, which is scheduled from 1:10-2:30 p.m. in the Ford School’s Annenberg Auditorium at 735 S. State St.

The event is open to the public. The town hall will be moderated by students in the class. Questions from the audience will be considered as time allows.

Confirmed to appear at the event will be Sabra Briere, Stephen Kunselman, Christopher Taylor and Sally Petersen. All are Democrats and are currently serving on the Ann Arbor city council.

As of the morning of April 16, only Kunselman had submitted the required signatures from registered voters in each of the city’s five wards to qualify for the ballot. Signatures must be submitted to the city clerk by April 22. Although no one other than these four councilmembers has announced an intent to contest the mayoral primary race, it’s still technically possible to take out petitions and collect signatures in time to qualify for the ballot.

The forum is being co-sponsored by UM’s Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP) and the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.

The Chronicle has made arrangements to provide CART (Communication Across Real Time) text streaming services for the event. If all technical challenges have been met, text will start streaming after the jump around 1:10 p.m. on April 16. [Full Story]

Petersen Also Running for Mayor

Ward 2 city council representative Sally Petersen has announced that she’s running for mayor of Ann Arbor. She made the announcement in a press release Wednesday morning, Jan. 15, 2014. The city clerk’s office confirmed that she pulled petitions that morning to contest the August Democratic primary. [.pdf of Petersen's press release]

Ward 2 council member Sally Petersen at the city council's Jan. 13 work session on economic health.

Ward 2 councilmember Sally Petersen at the city council’s Jan. 13 work session on economic health.

Petersen’s press release cites her previous employment experience with CFI Group, ABN AMRO Mortgage Group, and HealthMedia, as well as her service on nonprofit boards. Petersen holds an MBA from Harvard University.

If Petersen is elected mayor, it will be with two years of experience on the city council. She was first elected to the council in 2012, prevailing in the August 2012 Democratic primary against incumbent Tony Derezinski with 55% of the 2,102 votes cast. Among the four declared candidates from the council so far, two years would be the shortest period of service.

By November this year, Christopher Taylor (Ward 3) will have logged six years of council service, having been first elected in 2008. By election time, Sabra Briere (Ward 1) will have served seven years on council. And Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3) will also have seven years of Ann Arbor city council experience – which began with his election in 2006, but was interrupted for a year when he lost the 2008 Democratic primary to Taylor. Kunselman was returned to the council in 2009, prevailing in the Democratic primary over Leigh Greden.

The field of mayoral candidates in Ann Arbor is somewhat wide open this year, because mayor John Hieftje announced on Oct. 11, 2013 that he would not be seeking re-election to an eighth two-year term in 2014. Briere announced on Jan. 10, 2014 that she’d be running for mayor. Taylor announced his candidacy last year, on Dec. 20, 2013. Kunselman was the first to announce a candidacy for mayor, taking out petitions on Sept. 27, 2013 – even before winning re-election to his Ward 3 council seat on Nov. 5, 2013.

Ann Arbor’s city council includes two representatives from each of five wards, one of which is up for re-election every year for a two-year term. Ann Arbor’s mayor is also a member of the 11-member city council, and serves a two-year term. So only if Petersen or Taylor were elected mayor would either of them remain on the council. They can’t run for mayor at the same time they run for re-election to represent Wards 2 and 3, respectively. [Full Story]

Mayor/Council Filing Deadline Is April 22

The deadline to file petitions to run for Ann Arbor mayor is April 22. A Jan 10, 2014 report about Sabra Briere’s intent to run for mayor, as well as a Jan. 9, 2014 report of Yousef Rabhi’s decision not to run, included an inaccurate filing deadline, based on information from the city clerk’s office. According to Ed Golembiewski, Washtenaw County’s director of elections, new filing deadlines took effect on Jan. 1, 2014. Previously, the filing deadline was the 12th Tuesday prior to an election. Now, that deadline falls on the 15th Tuesday prior to an election. The city clerk’s office has been informed and is updated their filing information. The Chronicle notes the error here, and has … [Full Story]

Briere Running for Mayor of Ann Arbor

In a statement released around 2:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 10, 2014, Ward 1 city councilmember Sabra Briere has announced that she will run for mayor of Ann Arbor in 2014. [.pdf of Briere's press release]

Sabra Briere, Nov. 18, 2013 city council meeting

Sabra Briere at the Nov. 18, 2013 Ann Arbor city council meeting.

The field of mayoral candidates in Ann Arbor is somewhat wide open this year, because mayor John Hieftje announced on Oct. 11, 2013 that he would not be seeking re-election to an eighth two-year term in 2014. Ward 3 councilmembers Stephen Kunselman and Christopher Taylor have already pulled petitions to contest the Democratic primary.

Briere will continue her service on the council at least through 2015, regardless of the outcome of the mayoral election. If she prevails, she would remain a member of the council – because under Ann Arbor’s council-manager form of government, the mayor is also a councilmember. On that scenario, the council would need to appoint someone to fill the Ward 1 seat currently held by Briere.

If she does not prevail, then she would retain her Ward 1 seat, having won re-election to a two-year term in November 2013. That was a race she won against independent Jeff Hayner, who received 32% of the 1,747 ballots cast.

With Hieftje stepping down and Margie Teall’s intentions to seek re-election to represent Ward 4 not yet clear, in November 2014 Briere could become one of the two most-senior members of the council. Mike Anglin (Ward 5) and Briere were both first elected to the council in November 2007.

Briere was not opposed in the 2007 general election. She had prevailed in a three-way Democratic primary to fill the seat left vacant by Bob Johnson, who did not seek re-election that year. In the August 2007 primary, she polled 46% of the vote, compared to 34% for John Roberts and 19.5% for Richard Wickboldt. That race saw 920 votes cast.

Briere has served on the city planning commission as the council’s representative to that group for since November 2012.

The other declared candidates for mayor – Ward 3 councilmembers Kunselman and Taylor – announced their intent last year. Kunselman holds a masters of urban planning from the University of Michigan and works for the university as an energy conservation liaison. Taylor, a graduate of the University of Michigan law school, is an attorney with Hooper Hathaway. [Full Story]

Kunselman Pulls Petitions for 2014 Mayor’s Race

Ward 3 Ann Arbor city councilmember Stephen Kunselman, a Democrat, has taken out petitions to run for mayor in 2014.

Kunselman obtained the paperwork from the city clerk’s office just before noon on Sept. 27, 2013. Kunselman is currently seeking re-election to represent Ward 3. He’s contesting the Nov. 5, 2013 city council general election with independent Sam DeVarti.

Kunselman would need to submit 50 valid signatures from each of the city’s five wards, in order to qualify for the ballot in the 2014 August mayoral primary election.

Terms on the Ann Arbor city council are two years. Each of the city’s five wards is represented by two councilmembers. So each year, one of the two seats is up for re-election. The position … [Full Story]

Ann Arbor Mayoral Race: Howard, Hieftje

In the Ann Arbor mayoral race, incumbent Democrat John Hieftje faces Albert Howard, who is running as an independent in the Nov. 6 general election.

John Hieftje, Albert Howard, Ann Arbor mayor, League of Women Voters of the Ann Arbor Area, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

From left: Incumbent Ann Arbor mayor John Hieftje and Albert Howard, who is running as an independent. (Photos by the writer.)

The two men answered questions at an Oct. 10 candidate forum moderated by the League of Women Voters of the Ann Arbor Area. Issues ranged from the city’s relationship with the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority – which Howard described as a “shadow government” that he would dissolve – to nonpartisan elections, current challenges and a long-term vision for the community.

Howard repeatedly criticized Hieftje for a lack of transparency and fiscal responsibility, and for not focusing on public safety issues. He supported moving to nonpartisan elections, and for a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) program for the University of Michigan.

Hieftje, who was first elected mayor in 2000, defended his view that the city is one of the safest and most robust in Michigan. He said that he personally has been “extremely approachable” and that the city government itself is open and accessible. He advocated for an expanded transit system, and a focus on quality-of-life issues.

The office of mayor has a two-year term. In Ann Arbor’s council-manager system, the mayor is the eleventh member of the city council, with limited responsibility beyond that of a city councilmember. The mayor enjoys a power of veto over council actions, which can be overridden with an eight-vote majority. The mayor also makes nominations for most city boards and commissions, which then require confirmation by the council. The mayor has certain powers during emergencies, and serves as the ceremonial head of the city. Day-to-day management of the city is the responsibility of the city administrator – currently Steve Powers – who is hired by the city council.

The Oct. 10 candidate forum was held at the studios of Community Television Network in Ann Arbor, and is available online via CTN’s video-on-demand service. The forum included candidates for Ward 5 Ann Arbor city council – Stuart Berry and Chuck Warpehoski. The Ward 5 portion of the forum is reported in a separate Chronicle write-up.

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. [Full Story]

Wall Eyes Ann Arbor Mayoral Campaign

In a press release issued Thursday afternoon, Feb. 9, Tom Wall said he is considering a run for Ann Arbor mayor and is asking for support to fill crucial positions – including campaign manager and fundraising director – before making a final decision. [.pdf of Wall's announcement] Wall is owner of All Star Driver Education, and has run for mayor twice before.

In November 2006, Wall ran as an independent against incumbent Democrat John Hieftje, getting 21% of the vote. In August 2008, Wall contested the Democratic primary against Hieftje, getting 31% of the vote.

In his press release, Wall attributes his previous election performance to not having the “necessary organizational support.” He asks for people to step forward to fill the roles … [Full Story]

Ann Arbor Mayoral Race: Hieftje or Bean

In the mayor’s race, Ann Arbor voters are offered a choice in the Nov. 2 general election between Democratic incumbent John Hieftje and independent candidate Steve Bean. On the last Monday in September, the League of Women Voters hosted a forum for the mayoral candidates. The mayoral forum took place at Community Television Network studios and was recorded – it is available online through CTN’s video-on-demand service.

Welcome to Ann Arbor sign

In contrast to other members of the city council, which represent one of five wards in the city, Ann Arbor's mayor is elected by all Ann Arbor voters. Kudos to any reader who can recognize the location of this sign.

By way of general background, in Ann Arbor, the mayor is elected for a two-year term and is a member of the 11-member city council. The other 10 members of the council come from the city’s five wards – each ward has two seats on the council, one of which is elected each year for a two-year term. In addition to the rights and responsibilities of a councilmember, the city charter assigns the mayor other rights, including: a veto power, the responsibility to make appointments to committees, certain powers during emergencies, and the responsibility to preside over city council meetings. The management of the city is handled by a city administrator [Roger Fraser], who is hired by the city council. The mayor’s annual salary is $42,436.

Hieftje has served as mayor for the last 10 years, first elected in 2000 after serving half a term on the Ann Arbor city council representing Ward 1. At the League’s forum, Bean highlighted his own record of 20 years of service to the city on the energy and environmental commissions – currently chairing the environmental commission. Board and commission service for the city is not compensated.

The two men share many similar views – they occasionally expressed their agreement with each other’s views during the forum. They get along well socially – in fact, they carpooled together to the League of Women Voters event. Still, it’s possible to discern some differences between the two candidates on local issues as well as in their national perspective.

For example, Bean’s take on the proposed Fuller Road Station is that a citizen vote is needed and that the accompanying parking deck doesn’t move us in the right direction of alternative transportation. Hieftje, on the other hand, promoted the location as the best place in all of Michigan for a transit center. Hieftje’s focus on the city’s budget is to continue to find efficiencies to reduce expenses in the face of declining state and federal revenues, while Bean’s perspective seems to include more prominently the possibility of a severe national financial crisis that could be further complicated by declining world oil production capacity.

Bean and Hieftje’s responses are described in greater detail below. [Full Story]

Ann Arbor City Incumbents Win

With final unofficial results now tabulated on the Washtenaw County clerk’s website, results for the four contested city races in the Democratic primary show clear wins for all incumbents: John Hieftje for mayor, Sandi Smith in Ward 1, Margie Teall in Ward 4, and Carsten Hohnke in Ward 5.

The closest of the races was in Ward 1, where challenger Sumi Kailasapathy polled 42% of the vote to Smith’s 58% (769 to 1,068 votes) 45% of the vote to Smith’s 55% (833 to 1,004 votes).

In the two other contested council races, challengers received roughly 30% of the vote. In Ward 4, challenger Jack Eaton received 31% to Teall’s 69% (642 to 1,448). In Ward 5, Lou Glorie received 28% to Hohnke’s 72% (933 to 2,415).

In the mayor’s race, however, the margin was even greater. Hieftje took 84% of the vote to challenger Patricia Lesko’s 16% (10,058  to 1,869).

In November, Hieftje will face independent challenger Steve Bean.

In Ward 5, Carsten Hohnke will face John Floyd, who won the uncontested Republican primary on Tuesday, along with independent Newcombe Clark. Teall and Smith are unopposed in November. In Ward 2 and Ward 3, incumbents Tony Derezinski and Christopher Taylor did not face challenges in the Democratic primary and will also be unopposed in November. [Full Story]

Election Day: August 2010

The Chronicle will be spending this primary election day visiting as many of the 30 polling places in wards 1, 4 and 5 as we can – those are the wards in which city council races are being contested this year among Democrats.

vote here city of ann arbor sign

Sign outside the Michigan Union Building.

[If you're still doing your homework on candidates, click here for The Chronicle's election coverage to date.]

Polls are open until 8 p.m. We’ll report results as we hear about them, filed on The Chronicle’s Civic News Ticker.

If you see us out and about, give a shout. We’ll shout back. The fun starts after the jump. [Full Story]

Column: Who’s-On-First of Local Politics

It’s primary election day. No doubt every one of you Chronicle readers is voting today – if you haven’t already done it by absentee ballot. However, you can almost bet that many of your neighbors won’t.

Home plate at Allmendinger Park

Home plate at Allmendinger Park. It's been scuffed up, even though it hasn't endured a primary election.

On Monday, Washtenaw County clerk Larry Kestenbaum told The Chronicle that he didn’t have a specific forecast in terms of percentage turnout, but he noted that the relatively high turnout he’d been expecting didn’t seem to be panning out in the absentee ballot application and return rates. For the city of Ann Arbor, we’ve been tracking the city clerk’s absentee ballot return reports, and through July 31, 3,092 had been returned for today’s election. That compares with 2,578 absentee ballots cast in August 2006 and 2,803 in August 2008. It’s certainly an upward trend.

But we’re more interested in draft-horse governance than thoroughbred races (and I promise we won’t beat that analogy like a dead horse too much longer). So we decided to see what kind of base-level knowledge people in Ann Arbor had about their elected officials. Base level, as in: Who represents you on the city council?

And what better day than election day to present the results of our admittedly informal survey.

We didn’t ask about the mayor-ship in our survey, or state-level races. But this column is as good a venue as any to speculate about how the gubernatorial horse race on the Republican side might affect the Ann Arbor Democratic primary for mayor.

That’s like suggesting that the games in the American League West Division could have an impact on the outcome of games in the National League East. But there’s got to be a way to transition out of this awful horse race analogy. And a pennant race, yeah, that just might be the ticket. [Full Story]

Seniors Host Ann Arbor Mayoral Forum

In his introductory remarks, Bill Kinley joked that this was the first mayoral debate – and possibly the last ever – held at University Commons, a condominium community for people over 55 that was founded by University of Michigan faculty. They’d have to see how it turned out, he said.

Bill Kinley

Bill Kinley moderated a mayoral debate at University Commons on Monday between incumbent John Hieftje and challenger Patricia Lesko.

Kinley, a University Commons resident and local developer, moderated Monday’s event, which drew about 50 people to listen as incumbent mayor John Hieftje and challenger Patricia Lesko answered questions for an hour on a range of topics, from Argo Dam and Fuller Road Station to the city budget and possible income tax.

It’s the latest in a series of exchanges between the two candidates, as the Democrats head into next week’s Aug. 3 primary election. [See Chronicle coverage: "Ann Arbor Forums: The More, The Mayor-ier" and "Ann Arbor Dems Primary: Mayoral Race."]

After introducing the candidates, Kinley cautioned that the residents there are “a group of wordy people.” They know that “platform” and “platitude” derive from the French word “plat,” he said, “so if you can keep platitudes to a minimum, you’ll find the reception here is much more responsive.”

Each candidate was given two minutes to answer the question. The first person who answered was also given the option of an additional one minute response. Questions had been developed by Kinley and the program committee for University Commons. [Full Story]

Ann Arbor Forums: The More, The Mayor-ier

On Saturday, July 10, the Ann Arbor Democratic Party hosted a forum for mayoral candidates in the Democratic primary election, which will be held Aug. 3. The following Monday, the League of Women Voters hosted its own mayoral forum. This report combines coverage of those events. Online video of the LWV mayoral forum is available through Community Television Network’s video-on-demand service.


Patricia Lesko and John Hieftje at the League of Women Voters forum filmed at CTN studios on July 12. (Photos by the writer.)

This year Democratic voters will select between challenger Patricia Lesko and incumbent John Hieftje, who was first elected as mayor in 2000. In the November general election, the winner of the Democratic primary will face independent Steve Bean.

Based on campaign finance statements filed Friday, July 23, Lesko has so far collected 49 donations totaling $3,968  – not including a personal loan to her campaign of $1,525. Hieftje has collected 140 donations totaling $16,276. The mean donation to Lesko is $81, compared to Hieftje’s $116. A greater difference is revealed by the median donation: $50 for Lesko  and $100 for Hieftje. Complete financial statements for Lesko and Hieftje are available on the county clerk’s section of Comparing those statements demonstrates it’s possible for one person to donate to both candidates.

Previous Chronicle coverage of the mayoral race includes: “Ann Arbor Dems Primary: Mayoral Race.”

The city Dems forum was moderated by Jim Leonard, who wrote the piece “Satan For Mayor?!” published in the July edition of the Ann Arbor Observer. [Full Story]

Running for Mayor of Ann Arbor: Steve Bean

Running for mayor as an independent candidate starts pretty easy.

Steve Bean City Clerk Office

Steve Bean obtains nominating petitions as an independent candidate for mayor of the city of Ann Arbor. Behind the glass in the city clerk's office is Lyn Badalamenti. (Photos by the writer.)

It’s a five-minute session at the city clerk’s office.

This brief background piece covers some of the nuts and bolts of that process, based on Steve Bean’s Tuesday afternoon appearance on the second floor of city hall at the city clerk’s office. As a bonus, there’s a bit of city history thrown in.

After Bean told Lyn Badalamenti in the city clerk’s office that he was there to pick up nominating petitions, she set to work assembling a sheaf of papers. The spelling of Bean’s family name was the first order of business: “Like the vegetable,” he offered. Next up: A choice between “Steve” versus “Steven.”

The name that potential signatories of Bean’s petitions will see – as well as voters looking at November’s ballot – is “Steve.”

His name will be recognizable to some readers from his service on the city’s environmental commission. He now chairs that body. Before that, he served for nine years on the city’s energy commission. Some city records, especially older documents like city council minutes from April 9, 1992 – which contain the record of his appointment to the energy commission – show Bean’s name as “Steven.”

But the choice for the shortened variant was one he’d thought through before Badalamenti asked him: “That’s how people know me,” Bean explained to The Chronicle. [Full Story]