Line of cars out to Ellsworth waiting to get into the drop-off station. Measured just by signs along the non-random geographic sample of my route, Ward 3 council race appears low key. On the way, I pedaled past one sign for Kunselman and one for Grand.
Julie Grand, chair of the Ann Arbor park advisory commission, pulled petitions this week to run in the Aug. 6, 2013 Democratic primary for a seat representing Ward 3 on the Ann Arbor city council. If she files the petitions with at least 100 valid signatures by the May 14 deadline, she’ll be competing for the seat with incumbent Stephen Kunselman, a two-term councilmember.
Kunselman pulled petitions on Nov. 3, 2012 – the Saturday before last year’s Nov. 6 general election. He filed 109 valid signatures on March 8, 2013. Those signatures were verified as valid by the city clerk’s office on March 11 – the same day that Grand pulled her petitions for that race.
In a phone interview with The Chronicle in February 2013, Grand said several factors were influencing her decision. She’ll be term-limited on PAC after her current term ends in October, but wanted to remain involved with the city. [Her appointment on PAC runs through Oct. 18, 2013.] She has served on various committees and task forces over the years, primarily as a representative of PAC. Those include the Main Street/Huron River corridor task force, the golf courses advisory task force, and the senior center task force.
The timing was also good for more personal reasons. Her husband, David Grand, has now had time to transition to his job as U.S. Magistrate Judge for the Eastern District Court in Ann Arbor. [He was appointed to that position in November of 2011.] And starting this fall, both of their children will be in school full-time, she said. Grand says she enjoys teaching – she’s a lecturer in health policy studies at the University of Michigan-Dearborn – but doesn’t want a full-time academic job.
Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board meeting (Feb. 6, 2013): The meeting of the full DDA board reprised much of the same content of the operations committee meeting two weeks earlier, which focused on the organization’s budgets for the next two fiscal years. The board voted to approve budgets for FY 2014 and FY 2015.
For FY 2014, the DDA budget calls for $23.1 million in expenditures against $23.4 million in revenues. That would add about $300,000 to the total fund balance reserve, which is projected to end FY 2014 fiscal at around $5.5 million. The surplus from FY 2014 would be used in the FY 2015 budget, which calls for $23.8 million in expenditures against $23.5 in revenues, leaving the DDA with about $5.2 million in total fund balance reserve at the end of FY 2015. Reserve amounts indicated in the budget are about $800,000 more than the “true fund balance” – because the money lent to the DDA by Republic Parking for installation of new equipment is recorded as revenue.
Some of the larger categories of expenses in the $23.1 million expense budget for FY 2014, which is similar to FY 2015, are: payments to Republic Parking for operating the public parking system ($6.5 million); bond payments and interest ($6.6 million); payments to the city of Ann Arbor ($3 million in parking revenue and $500,000 for the police/courts facility); capital costs ($2 million); administration ($800,000); and alternative transportation ($615,000).
The alternative transportation allocation would fall a bit short of covering this year’s $623,662 request from the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority to support the getDowntown program, which includes a subsidy to cover the cost of rides taken with the go!pass. That compares with $553,488 granted by the DDA last year to support getDowntown. A presentation made previously to the operations committee – by Michael Ford, CEO of the AATA, and Nancy Shore, director of the getDowntown program – was also given to the full board at the Feb. 6 meeting. The presentation highlighted the fact that 31% of go!pass riders get on the bus east of US-23.
Money in the budget labeled “discretionary” could cover the gap between AATA’s request and the amount in the budget slated for alternative transportation. That money is one of a number of “placeholder” items included in the budget – like $250,000 for a possible arrangement with the city of Ann Arbor for additional police patrols in the downtown. Another $300,000 could be used for a range of capital projects – from sidewalk improvements for patio dining in the State Street area, to streetscape improvements for William Street, to alley improvements near the Bell Tower Hotel.
The board did not discuss remarks made earlier in the week by Ward 3 city councilmember Stephen Kunselman, who at the council’s Feb. 4 meeting called for a number of changes to the city’s DDA ordinance. If enacted, the changes could have a significant impact on the DDA’s revenue from its tax increment finance (TIF) budget. Of the DDA’s roughly $23 million revenue budget, about $4 million comes from TIF capture, with the remainder coming from the public parking system.
The DDA board meeting featured public commentary from Alan Haber, a self-described “agitator” for a public park on top of the Library Lane underground parking garage, and a briefing from Ray Detter, chair of the downtown citizens advisory council, on the status of the 413 E. Huron project. The previous evening, that proposed residential project had failed to achieve the six votes it needed for a planning commission recommendation of approval. The project is still expected to be brought to the city council for consideration, possibly on March 18.
The board was also presented with this year’s edition of the DDA’s “State of the Downtown” report, which summarizes a number of statistics about the DDA district.
On Oct. 5, 2011 the local League of Women Voters (LWV) hosted candidate forums for Ann Arbor city council candidates in all four of the city’s five wards that have contested races.
This report focuses on the forum for Ward 3, where Republican David Parker is challenging Democratic incumbent Stephen Kunselman. A replay of the forum is available via Community Television Network’s video on demand service. [Ward 3 CTN coverage]
The Ann Arbor council is an 11-member body, with two representatives from each ward, plus the mayor. All members of the council, including the mayor, serve two-year terms. In a given year, one of the two council seats for each ward is up for election. In even-numbered years, the position of mayor is also up for election.
This year, the general election falls on Nov. 8. Readers who are unsure where to vote can type their address into the My Property page of the city of Ann Arbor’s website to get that information. A map of city ward boundaries is also online.
Although the election in Ward 1 is not contested – Democratic incumbent Sabra Briere is unopposed – voters in that ward will have a chance to vote on three ballot proposals, along with other city residents. The first two ballot questions concern a sidewalk/street repair tax; the third question concerns the composition of the city’s retirement board of trustees.
Ballot questions were among the issues on which LWV members solicited responses from candidates. Kunselman indicated he would support the street and sidewalk repair millages, but only reluctantly. Parker said he would not support the sidewalk millage. They both supported the proposal to change the composition of the retirement board.
Other topics, presented in chronological order below, include the proposed Fuller Road Station, city finances, the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority, human services, public art, and the planned Allen Creek greenway.
Based on unofficial vote totals from all precincts, incumbents in three Ann Arbor city wards have won the Democratic Party’s nomination for city council representative, and they will appear on the ballot in November.
In Ward 2, Stephen Rapundalo received 57% of the vote: 573 votes, compared with Tim Hull’s 420.
In Ward 3, Stephen Kunselman received 59% of the vote: 637 votes, compared to 389 for Ingrid Ault and 55 for Marwan Issa.
And in Ward 5, Mike Anglin received 66% of the votes: 1,088 votes, compared with Neal Elyakin’s 562.
Turnout was down in every ward compared to previous odd-year Democratic primaries. In Ward 2 only 6.39% of registered voters turned in a ballot. In Ward 3, only 8.84% of those who are registered actually voted. And in Ward 5, registered voters had a turnout of only 8.71%.
In the city’s other two wards, no Democratic primary was contested. No ward had a contested Republican primary.
In Ward 2, for the Nov. 8, 2011 general election, Rapundalo does not currently face a challenger. The deadline for an independent candidate to file is Aug. 15.
In Ward 3, Kunselman’s name will appear on the ballot along with Republican David Parker. In Ward 5, Mike Anglin will face Republican Stuart Berry.
In Ward 4, which did not require a primary election, incumbent Democrat Marcia Higgins will face Republican Eric Scheie in November. In Ward 1, incumbent Democrat Sabra Briere faced no primary challenger and will face no challenger on the ballot in November unless an independent files qualifying petitions by Aug. 15.
For the seven Democratic candidates in three different wards, Friday, July 22 was the filing deadline for pre-primary campaign contributions in Ann Arbor city council races. The primary election is on Tuesday, Aug. 2.
Six candidates filed the necessary paperwork, which is available from the Washtenaw County clerk’s office website. [Type in the candidate's last name for links to scanned .pdf files of campaign finance reports.]
For itemized cash contributions listed on Schedule 1-A, The Chronicle has compiled the data for all six candidates into a single Google Spreadsheet – in order to get a statistical overview of the candidates’ respective contributions and to map out the distributions of contributions geographically.
Ward 5 incumbent Mike Anglin’s total of $6,850 was the largest of any candidate. His challenger Neal Elyakin filed $5,923 worth of contributions.
In Ward 3, Ingrid Ault has raised $4,031, compared to incumbent Stephen Kunselman’s $2,750. According to Washtenaw County clerk staff on Tuesday morning, Ward 3 candidate Marwan Issa had not filed a contribution report by the Friday deadline. He’d also not submitted a waiver that can be filed if contributions total less than $1,000. The fine associated with not filing is $25 per day, up to a maximum of $500.
In Ward 2, incumbent Stephen Rapundalo filed $2,950 worth of contributions compared with $2,075 for challenger Tim Hull.
Collectively, the six candidates recorded $24,579 on their statements.
After the jump, we chart out the contributions to illustrate how candidates are being supported – through many small-sized donations, or by a fewer larger-sized donations. We also provide a geographic plot, to illustrate how much financial support candidates enjoy in the wards they’re running to represent.
Tea leaves, tarot cards, crystal balls – predicting the future is a popular pastime. But here at The Chronicle, we decided to take a look at past elections – with an eye towards the approaching Aug. 2 primary elections for the Ann Arbor city council.
Ann Arbor residents are represented by the mayor and 10 other elected members on the city council – two for each of the city’s five wards. Each year, one of the pair of councilmembers stands for re-election to a two-year term. This year, three members of the currently all-Democratic council have contested races in the primary, which falls on Tuesday, Aug. 2.
In Ward 5, incumbent Mike Anglin is challenged by Neal Elyakin. In Ward 3, incumbent Stephen Kunselman is challenged by Marwan Issa and Ingrid Ault. And in Ward 2, incumbent Stephen Rapundalo is challenged by Tim Hull.
Each of the city’s five wards is divided into precincts.
In this article, The Chronicle takes a look at the incumbents’ performance in past elections, mapped out by precinct. Some descriptive generalizations are readily apparent in the data – the strength of incumbents has not been uniform across their respective wards.
And in some cases, it’s possible to offer a speculative analysis that could account for some of those patterns.
Mid-July was busy for the three candidates in the city of Ann Arbor’s Ward 3 Democratic primary. Incumbent Stephen Kunselman, along with challengers Ingrid Ault and Marwan Issa, attended forums on back-to-back evenings on July 12 and 13.
The first took place at the Malletts Creek branch of the Ann Arbor District Library, organized by the Third Ward Committee of the Ann Arbor Democratic Party. The second was hosted by the local League of Women Voters and filmed at the Community Television Network studios on South Industrial Highway. The winner of the Ward 3 Democratic primary will face Republican David Parker in November.
The Malletts Creek event was conducted in a town hall format, with questions asked straight from the audience (not written down on index cards). The sequence of questions was determined by moderator Carl Akerlof, who picked members out of the audience.
Due to that format, the Mallets Creek forum may have more accurately reflected what issues are on Ward 3 voters’ minds – though there was considerable overlap between the two forums. This report focuses mostly on the Malletts Creek event.
Before the questions started, the candidates mingled with attendees and with each other. Issa sought some insight from Kunselman on the ins-and-outs of campaign yard sign placement. They can’t be in the right-of-way, Kunselman explained – that’s probably why some of Issa’s signs had been removed by the city. Ault asked Kunsleman: “Do you want to work on the reunion with me?” The two graduated 30 years ago in the same class from Pioneer High School.
Their ties to the community was a theme of all three candidates’ opening and closing statements, which also included other themes familiar from a candidate forum in June hosted by the Ann Arbor Democratic Party.
Kunselman stressed a focus of local government on the basics of health, safety and welfare, as opposed to economic development. That contrasted with Ault’s emphasis on her experience working with small, locally-owned independent businesses as executive director of Think Local First – she said she felt that government has a role to play in that. Marwan Issa allowed that he was young (27 years old) and it was his first time running for office, but stressed that he would bring a new vision, and a sense of urgency and energy.
The topics of questions from attendees ranged from garbage collection, to the city’s pension system, to the use of city-owned real estate. For this report, we’ve pulled out some of the highlights.
On Saturday morning, June 11, the Ann Arbor Democratic Party hosted a forum for Ann Arbor city council candidates in contested wards for the Aug. 2 primary election. The forum was held in the context of the Democratic Party’s regular monthly meeting at its usual location in the Ann Arbor Community Center on North Main Street.
Candidates for Ward 3 could not exactly square off – there are three of them. Plus, the linear seating configuration (determined by drawing playing cards) separated Ward 3 incumbent Stephen Kunselman from challengers Ingrid Ault and Marwan Issa with a buffer zone consisting of the two Ward 5 candidates.
The winner of the Ward 3 primary will face Republican David Parker on Nov. 8 in the general election. Currently, only Democrats serve on Ann Arbor’s city council. Republicans have also filed in Ward 4 (Eric Scheie) and Ward 5 (Stuart Berry). But in Ward 2, the lack of a Republican challenger means that spot is almost sure to be decided in the Aug. 2 Democratic primary. For the open Ward 1 seat, currently held by Sabra Briere, no partisan challenger filed. Independent candidates have until Aug. 15, 2011 at 5 p.m. to file petitions to run in November. The last day to register to vote for the Aug. 2, 2011 primary is July 5, 2011.
Friday morning in the lower level of the county building at 200 N. Main, Letitia Kunselman held her cell phone out in the general direction of Melodie Gable, chair of Washtenaw County’s board of canvassers. Gable was wrapping up about 90 minutes of ballot recounting from the Ward 3 Democratic primary for Ann Arbor city council. By that time, her official announcement stated an outcome that everyone in the room already knew.
We’d followed the hand recount of paper ballots table-by-table, as one precinct after the other confirmed individual vote totals from the initial Aug. 4 results.
What Gable reported was exactly the news that Letitia Kunselman’s husband Stephen – on the other end of the cell phone line – wanted to hear: his own 511 votes compared to Leigh Greden’s 505 had been confirmed, leaving Kunselman the winner of the primary. The third candidate, LuAnne Bullington, picked up one vote in the recount in precincts 3-4 and 3-7 (these precincts shared a single polling location on election day), bringing her total to 382.
We include in our report the vote totals, some anecdotal bits from the morning recount, but more importantly, a brief look at the impact that Greden’s departure will have on council’s committee composition.
On Saturday, July 11, the Ann Arbor Democratic Party hosted a forum for candidates in contested primary races for Ann Arbor City Council in Wards 3 and 5.
Responses from Ward 5 candidates audience questions are in a separate article.
The format consisted of questioners chosen in random order, who had 30 seconds each to ask a question. Each candidate then had one minute to respond. At the start and the end of the forum, each candidate had three minutes for a statement. At the end there was a chance for a three-minute closing statement.
Time was kept by Jennie Needleman, who chairs Ward 5 for the Ann Arbor Democratic Party. Responses are presented here in the order they were given at the forum, which rotated among candidates who attended. Jeff Irwin, a Washtenaw County commissioner, moderated the event.
For Ward 3, it was Stephen Kunselman and LuAnne Bullington who answered questions, which were posed by audience members.
The third candidate in the Ward 3 race, incumbent Leigh Greden, did not attend.