Tony Derezinski will stay on the Ann Arbor planning commission at least through June of 2013 as a result of his confirmation by the city council at its Nov. 8, 2012 meeting. Derezinski’s last meeting as a city councilmember was Nov. 8, and up to that point he had served by annual appointment as the council’s representative to the planning commission. But because he did not prevail in his August Democratic primary race in Ward 2, he could not continue to serve on the planning commission in that capacity. Instead, it’s expected that Sabra Briere (Ward 1) will serve in that role. The confirmation by the council came over the dissent of Jane Lumm (Ward 2), who did not feel …
On July 14, 2012, Ward 2 candidates in the city council Democratic primary – Sally Petersen and incumbent Tony Derezinski – participated in a forum with six other candidates in a total of four city council Democratic primary races. The event was hosted by the Ann Arbor Democratic Party. This article summarizes the responses from Ward 2 candidates. Other races are covered in separate Chronicle articles.
Derezinski has served on the council since winning election in 2008 and is seeking a third two-year term on the 11-member council – which includes the mayor and two representatives from each of the city’s five wards. Democratic primaries are contested this year in just four of the five wards, as Christopher Taylor is unchallenged in Ward 3. The winner of the Democratic primary in Ward 2 will likely not face an on-the-ballot opponent in November, because no Republican has filed and the deadline for independent candidates to file is July 19.
Contested Ward 2 Democratic primaries are somewhat of a rarity in Ann Arbor. When Derezinski won the primary against Stew Nelson in 2008 with 60% of the vote, the seat was coming open – because Ward 2 incumbent Democrat Joan Lowenstein opted to run for judge of the 15th District Court (a race won by Chris Easthope, a former city councilmember). Derezinski was not challenged in the 2010 Democratic primary, but faced Libertarian Emily Salvette in the November general election that year, winning with 79% of the vote.
In her remarks about herself, Petersen stressed her significant business experience, and mentioned her MBA degree. Locally, she’s worked in senior marketing positions in the private sector for companies like CFI Group and ABN AMRO Mortgage Group. That experience led her to take customer-satisfaction as a principle that could be applied to local government – but she assured attendees at the forum that she did not want to try to run government like a business.
Petersen described her family upbringing as civic-minded, and cited her volunteer experience in Ann Arbor – as board member at the Neutral Zone, president of the Tappan Middle School PTSO, and secretary of the Huron High School Athletic Booster Club. She said she would bring a fresh voice and a fresh agenda to the council.
Derezinski appeared to chafe at Petersen’s description of herself as a fresh voice – raising the possibility that she’s alluding to his age. He ventured that the contrast he offered to a fresh voice was one of “seasoning.” He cited 40 years of experience in municipal law, an area he feels is relevant to city council service. He pointed to his service on the city council as the council’s representative to the city planning commission. He also serves on the public art commission. When he first ran for office, his slogan was: “Let’s make our great community even better,” and he said he wanted to continue his service, to make the community even better.
Aside from opening and closing statements, not a lot of specific local policy ground was covered by questions put to the candidates – due in part to a time constraint of about an hour for eight candidates. But the candidates did talk a great deal about issues of transparency and group dynamics on the city council – in response to the leadoff question from forum moderator Mike Henry, co-chair (with Anne Bannister) of the Ann Arbor Democratic Party.
For Petersen and Derezinski, the evolution of candidate remarks moderated by Henry revealed a difference of opinion between the two about inclusiveness and the adequacy of outward- and inward-bound communication. Derezinski was keen to stress the importance of being active in the local Democratic Party (to contrast himself with Petersen who has not been active in the local party) and the importance of electing Democratic candidates to the city council. That view appeared inconsistent with the one Derezinski had expressed at a local League of Women Voters forum held earlier in the week. At the LWV forum, he’d said that he’d be in favor of getting rid of the partisan aspect of Ann Arbor city elections – and conduct local elections in a non-partisan way like the vast majority of other Michigan cities do.
The deadline to register to vote in the Aug. 7 primary has passed. Oct. 9 is the last day to register to vote for the Tuesday, Nov. 6 general election. Information on voter registration 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. The League of Women Voters also has an online voter information site – Vote411.org – which includes biographical information on some candidates, stances on issues, and a “build my ballot” feature.
On the last Monday in September, the League of Women Voters hosted a forum of candidates for Ann Arbor city council at Community Television Network studios. Ward 2 and Ward 5 are the only two wards where more than one candidate is on offer to voters on Nov. 2. The respective incumbents in Wards 1, 3 and 4 – Sandi Smith, Christopher Taylor, Margie Teall, who are all Democrats – are unopposed. The Ward 2 and Ward 5 forum was recorded and is available online through CTN’s video-on-demand service.
While the five candidates for the two wards participated in the same 45-minute forum, this report covers only responses to questions from Ward 2 candidates – incumbent Tony Derezinski, who is the Democratic Party nominee, and Emily Salvette, the nominee of the Libertarian Party. Responses from Ward 5 candidates Carsten Hohnke, John Floyd and Newcombe Clark are reported in a separate account.
As stipulated in the city charter, Ann Arbor wards divide the city into roughly pie-shaped wedges. Ward 2 is a wedge covering roughly the area between the 1 o’clock and 4 o’clock positions on the “city pie.” Each ward is represented on the city council in two council seats, one of which is up for election each year for a two-year term. Stephen Rapundalo serves in the Ward 2 seat that’s not up for election this year.
The four questions posed by the League were confined essentially to two topics: the budget and parks. Candidates uniformly identified the most important challenge facing the city as the budget, and that fit thematically with a specific question about the budget. The remaining two questions focused on specific parks: Huron Hills golf course, which is currently the subject of a request for proposals for private management; and Fuller Park, part of which is a proposed location for a new parking deck to be built primarily for the University of Michigan, and which has a possible future as a train station.