About 30 people gathered in the cafeteria/auditorium of Wines Elementary School on Oct. 21 for The Ann Arbor Chronicle’s Ward 5 city council candidate forum. Two of the three candidates participated: Republican John Floyd and Newcombe Clark, who’s running as an independent. Carsten Hohnke, the incumbent Democrat, chose not to participate.
Rather than a standard Q&A, candidates were given 10 specific topic areas in advance, and advised that on the night of the event, they’d be presented with list-making tasks on some of these topics that they’d be expected to complete collaboratively. The Chronicle offers a separate opinion piece about the format of the event and candidates’ participation in it.
In this article, we report the interaction of Floyd and Clark as they worked their way through the tasks, which began with a warm-up: Winnow down the 10 topics to four, to be tackled in 10-minute chunks. They settled on these topics: (1) development of downtown city-owned surface lots, (2) economic development, (3) appointments to boards and commissions, and (4) quality of life.
The two men arrived at a strategy for the winnowing task that persisted through the roughly one-hour event: Each proposed some list items relatively uncontested by the other, followed by a consensus check. In each case, the list-making per se was dispatched relatively easily by the candidates. Then with a list of items written on the white board, they used it as a starting point for a related conversation.