LWV [Zoe Behnke]: I am Zoe Behnke, program director of the League of Women Voters of the Ann Arbor Area. I welcome you to this candidate forum. Tonight we will be hearing from candidates for Ward 2. The general election will be on Tuesday, Nov. 5. The last day to register to vote for the general election on Nov. 5 is Monday, Oct. 7. The League of Women Voters is pleased to be sponsoring these forums. The league is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization. Our membership is open to all persons over 18 years of age. We invite you to join us. Membership information is available on our website: lwvannarbor.org. The league does not support candidates or parties. However we do take stands on issues that we have studied. One of the league's important goals is to assist voters in making informed choices at the polls and thus we bring you tonight's program. Questions for tonight's forum have been selected by a committee of league members from a pool of questions submitted by the community. We are broadcasting from the studios of Community Television Network in Ann Arbor. Our moderator is Judy Mich. Other volunteers from the League of Women Voters are also assisting tonight. Our moderator will explain the process. Judy?
LWV [Judy Mich]: Thank you very much, Zoe. Thank you to all of you who are viewing, whether it's tonight or anytime up to the election. And thank you especially to our candidates who have come this evening and are taking their time to run for city council. Shortly you'll be hearing from the three candidates for Ward 2 of the Ann Arbor city council. Two drawings have been held just before we started, to determine both the opening and closing order of speakers. The opening statement will be one minute each, and our timers who are here will be warning and forewarning you. The closing statement, two minutes each, and each of the questions, which will rotate around as I've explained, will be 90 seconds to respond. So you look ready. And we are ready. So let's go, we'll begin actually in the order in which they are seated alphabetically, but our first opening statement -- Conrad Brown.
Conrad Brown: I just want to say thank you again to the League of Women Voters for having this and Jane and Kirk for having us. And I'm going to start this off by saying hello my name is Conrad Brown. I live in the Geddes Lake Residential Community on Huron Parkway. And I want to be your city councilman. Because I want to help our local leadership address some of the critical issues that I think are facing our city currently -- one being roads and infrastructure which are in need of repair. Second, the issue of urban sprawl and traffic around our city. And lastly the large amount of tax dollars that are controlled by unelected officials and the Downtown Development Authority. I know my opponents are aware of these issues and we are all concerned. But as a candidate for the Mixed-Use Party I want to come forth with some practical solutions to these problems. Starting with urban sprawl, I think it's come to my conclusion that we allow more people to live near the downtown area. And have less people dependent on automobiles living at the edge of town due to sprawl, thus contributing to environmental degradation, air pollution. And also I would be in favor of abolishing tax increment financing, so that our tax dollars are being controlled by city officials who are accountable to voters.
LWV: We'll be back to you in just a minute, you can continue. Ms. Lumm, one minute.
Jane Lumm: Thank you, Judy, and thanks to the League of Women Voters for hosting us tonight, it's nice to be back. Thanks as well to Kirk and Conrad for engaging in the process and offering voters a choice. It's that very concept -- offering a choice -- that's the reason I ran two years ago. I promised then to provide a voice for the Second Ward residents who believed, as I did, that the city government has lost touch with the community, its needs and priorities. And I promised to focus on basic services first. I've worked hard to fulfill those promises. Many Second Ward voters have told me they appreciate my efforts to see that their tax dollars are well spent and they do feel that they finally have a voice in decision making. That's what it should be: Everyone has a voice, and why I'm running again. I think you'll see during the course of tonight's discussion there are significant differences between us. You have a clear choice and I am hopeful that over these last two years, I have been able to earn your support. Thank you.
LWV: Thank you much. Mr. Westphal.
Kirk Westphal: Thank you and good evening. I'd like to offer a special thank you as well to the league for hosting us tonight, CTN, Mr. Brown and Ms. Lumm and especially all of you tuning in this evening. My name is Kirk Westphal and I'm the Democratic candidate for the Second Ward city council seat. I live in the Glacier Area neighborhood with my wife Cynthia and two sons. Professionally I'm an urban researcher and I run a small business called Westphal Associates on Main Street. I currently chair the city's planning commission, where I;ve served for seven years. I'm also a member of the environmental commission and chair of the Glacier Area homeowners association. My wife and I chose to move to Ann Arbor. We owe this decision to past city leaders, who insisted on a thriving community, not just a basic one. I'm asking you to elect me to this seat so that we can continue being a city of choice for future generations. We must be purposeful about growing a diversified economy, exploring efficient transportation options, and funding the excellent services we expect. We have starkly different choices for this council seat, as has been mentioned, and I look forward to the discussion. Thank you.
LWV: OK, we'll move to the questions and we're going to go in a rotating order, and this will give you all a chance to continue what you couldn't quite finish with the opening statement. Each of you is a candidate for the Ann Arbor city council from the Second Ward. Please tell us what you consider your platform. What are you running on or for?
Conrad Brown: To start I'd say, as I said in my opening statement, as a Mixed-Use Party candidate, I'm running on the issues that I think are most immediate that need to be addressed in our city, roads and infrastructure being one. I think at the end there I was about to mention that I'm in favor of abolishing tax increment financing. I think that our tax dollars should be controlled and spent by individuals who are accountable to our voters, and that the funds currently captured by the system to subsidize private developers, corporations and businesses and the like could instead be used to repair and maintain our roads. Also I think the issue of urban sprawl is near and dear to all people in Ann Arbor. We know there's an issue about up or out. I think in the long run if we want our city to develop in a way that everyone is happy, we need to offer practical solutions and that's what we're trying to do. I think that we need more mixed-use zoning in Ann Arbor. If we allow people to live closer to where their destinations are, they can either walk or drive shorter distances and this would help alleviate some of the traffic woes that our city currently faces. And also I'd be in favor of using the tax dollars saved from capturing funds from the DDA and instead putting those towards a vital services that best serves the function of our city.
Jane Lumm: Thank you. What movivated me to run two years ago was a sense that the city had lost touch with the community, its needs and priorities and that needed to change. And while some progress has been made, sadly it's not been enough. And the city obviously has limited resources -- that's not a newsflash. And I believe we should be directing, as do the folks I meet going door to door, that we should be directing those resources towards delivering the services that residents value and are willing to pay for. And there are a number of specific issues, particularly relevant now of course, but when you take a step back from it it's mostly about spending priorities -- aligning city spending with the needs and priorities of the community, and maintaining Ann Arbor's strong quality of life. Some of the key city-wide issues are public safety, proactive policing, adequacy of staffing, fixing our streets and addressing an aging water and sewer infrastructure, protecting and enhancing our parks and balancing development and preservation both in our neighborhoods and downtown. Also we need to address our legacy pension cost challenges. We need to revisit the pedestrian ordinance, and I'm glad to see us doing that now. We also need to prioritize among a multitude of transportation-related initiatives -- train station, commuter trains, high-capacity connectors, expanded bus transit -- we need to establish some priorities among all those initiatives. And then within the Second Ward...Thank you.
LWV: Whoops! Mr. Westphal, your 90 seconds please.
Kirk Westphal: Sure. My platform really just consists of my constituents' wishes. I would say it's my job to represent the constituents in the Second Ward. I would have to describe them more as priorities -- the lens that I would view our current problems through. And there's three different areas I'd like to focus on. The first is a long-term prosperity. I hear a lot of fighting over spending. I think it's pretty clear from our budget discussions that the city doesn't have a spending problem anymore -- I think we have an earning problem. But this seems to be a taboo subject. If we want to keep funding the services we expect, the city needs revenue. Now this can't come from current taxpayers -- we all know that our taxes are capped -- it has to come from economic development. And this doesn't seem to be a discussion that city council members wants to engage in. Second is proactive neighborhood engagement. A lot of times, the only time the city talks to neighborhoods is when you get this little postcard saying "Something's about to change in your neighborhood!" And I think that gets some neighborhoods off on the wrong foot. We need to have some forum for talking with neighbors proactively, exposing folks to what the city does well and knowing what might be coming down the pike for your neighborhood before it happens. And lastly, what I call budgeting for results. I'm not an advocate or somebody driving a single issue. I'm a data person. We're not the first city encountering some of these challenges. I put great stock in best practices and we need to look at those more.
LWV: OK. That you much. We'll go now to Ms. Lumm and then around the horn that way. Question number 2, 90 seconds. City employees receive and observe written guidelines on professional conduct, including conflict of interest. What standards of professional conduct do you favor for elected and appointed officials as well as contractors and consultants dealing with the city?
Jane Lumm: Well there's been discussion recently because of issues, and discussions at the council table, where discussions have been less civil than they need to be, about adopting an ethics policy for ourselves, for the elected officials. I certainly think our professional staff are highly ethical and I think we need to model that behavior as well, and we haven't always done that. I in fact at a council meeting, you know, unfortunately, and it's a sad commentary really, when you have differences of opinion it's personalized, and we don't focus on the merits of the argument or the differences in views, but it has become personal. And I think given that what we've seen occur from time to time unfortunately, an ethics policy for city council members, and I'm not addressing that for staff because their code of ethics is unquestionable, but for ourselves I think it is appropriate. In fact, this has come up when I've been going door to door. People have raised that as a concern. I've become aware -- I am the "fossil" on this, sitting at this table -- but apparently during council meetings, people Tweet things that are highly critical of the individuals. And I just think that's really discouraging to others who, you know, in years to come will want to step up and engage and be involved. So it's a great question and I think in our appointments to committees and boards we also have to be sure not to appoint people who may have conflicts of interest.
LWV: Code of conduct, Mr. Westphal?
Kirk Westphal: Absolutely. I've head the concept of an ethics policy bounced around for several years. I don't know what the hold-up is. I'd be happy to take that on if I was elected. I think these are the kind of root policy issues that council should be addressing. I think what I've observed, especially in this past year, is a lot of handwringing over things that should not be taking a lot of time. Months spent on a single site plan, for example. I think this is not appropriate behavior for city council. I think we need policy issue, policy discussions. We need a policy governance model for a council. I think we're delving way too much into micromanagement, and I would fully support an ethics policy. And if you elect me, I would volunteer now to sign on to make that happen.
LWV: Mr. Brown, your thoughts?
Conrad Brown: Can you repeat the question one more time, just to be sure that I'm answering your question correctly?
LWV: OK. Do you want the whole thing or just, City employees receive and observe written guidelines on professional conduct, including conflict of interest. What standards of professional conduct do you favor for elected and appointed officials as well as contractors and consultants?
Conrad Brown: I think that city officials, especially when it comes to contractors and consultants, it's like I was saying before is we have to balance between public and private interests. We need to keep the money honest. We have to make sure that the dollars that were controlling are being spent in the best interest of our city and not being used to essentially subsidize private developments and corporations. And as far as ethics when it comes to the business between actual city council members, I think ethics policies are a slippery slope, because they start to interfere with what the council's mission is to begin with -- which is to serve the city. I know Mr. Westphal said that sometimes we deliberate on things longer than we probably should, and this is an issue. However I think to have more guidelines and to make the process more bureaucratic would in the long run perhaps cause more problems than it would solve. I think often if there is an issue where politicians and council members what have you are being unethical, the voters will eventually correct that problem. I have more faith in Ann Arbor voters to correct the wrongs that the city officials are performing.
LWV: Very good. Next question begins with you, Mr. Westphal, and then you number two and number three. Do you support the city's climate action plan which calls for a 25% reduction in greenhouse gases over the next 12 years? Why or why not?
Kirk Westphal: I absolutely support the climate action plan. There's a whole range of recommendations within the plan -- ranging from low to no cost to very high cost. And as each of these priorities come up, it's got to be a robust discussion with the voters to see what they're willing to fund. There are many initiatives again which can come at very low cost. The lowest hanging fruit for climate action is conservation, and I think sometimes we get distracted with demonstrations or green initiatives that are very helpful, but I think educationally we need to make a bigger effort to enlighten people to the idea of conservation -- it has profound economic development impacts. The less people spend to maintain a car or heat their homes and the more money they have in their pocket. The less they need. The better transportation we have, the less they need to drive around and the less pollution there is. The less runoff there is from certain sites, we have cleaner water and that improves everybody's quality-of-life. So I think there are different phases and I think that will become a more robust discussion as time moves forward.
LWV: Your thoughts on the climate action plan, Conrad Brown.
Conrad Brown: I think on the surface, the platform that the Mixed-Use [Party] is trying to offer is actually addressing this issue. I know that the issue of zoning reform is at the forefront of this. We need to allow more people to live near downtown Ann Arbor and to allow them to live in more compact living arrangements. One example is what is defined as a single dwelling unit in Ann Arbor -- only four unrelated individuals are legally allowed to live together. Now if that dwelling unit was allowed to say you were capable of have 5, 6 or even 7 people living in that dwelling unit, by law you're not allowed for that occur. That's a perfect example of helping to reduce the impact on climate change. If we're willing to change and have serious debate I'm offering practical reform as a candidate. I want to change the zoning laws in our city and I think that will have the biggest impact on sprawl. People being dependant on automobiles not having to drop drive as far, contributing to noise and air pollution, environment degradation, and if we can hear out what we have to say and if Ann Arbor voters are willing to listen I think they will agree and that's what I'm offering to the table.
LWV: Ms. Lumm.
Jane Lumm: I have been supportive, this has come before council. But as both Mr. Westpha at Mr. Brown have stated there always needs to be, well maybe I'm paraphrasing, but it's my view certainly, there needs to be a balance as with anything. And we saw this recently with a proposal to divest from fossil fuels as an example. And it was pointed out that this would be consistent with our sustainability initiatives and the climate action plan. And while I certainly agree with that, and no one is cheerleading for fossil fuels, all of these things must be done, considered and evaluated in a balanced fashion. The same thing is true with, and there are nuances with the investment of fossil fuels that I for one did not support that proposal like some of my colleagues on council. I think that's very nuanced and my reasons have more to do with the fiscal risks that we might incur, and we do have a pension liability so we need to limit those risks. Another sort of "where the rubber meets the road" example is the solid waste plan. We're going to be getting that at the upcoming meeting, seeing that. While the plan doesn't commit, and were looking at that with an eye towards the climate action plans, sustainability initiatives, but there are recommendations in there for things like picking up your trash every other week, and you know, that's a recordation I wouldn't support. But, you know, it's being presented to us...Thank you. Sorry.
LWV: Tadum. The bell. OK, Mr. Brown, come back to you, question number 4. We'll go down the line very easily. Do you favor a regional bus system, and if elected would you vote new funding to support it?
Conrad Brown: As it stands currently, I would not support a regional bus system. If you define regional in the sense that we'd be connecting to outside municipalities such as Detroit, Dearborn and Pontiac. I'm very skeptical of doing so, for the simple fact is that at what expense are we willing to fund this? That always comes up in questions Ð We want to build this regional transit system, but by whose expense and who's going to pay for it? And telling my constituents I'm going to raise their taxes or cutting vital services to support more busing to areas which nothing is guaranteed that people are going to use those buses, would we raise the fares? I know that Ann Arbor is an exceptional city, when it comes to our public transportation, for a population of I htink it was 116,000 was the last concensus, we have an exceptional public transportation system and I aim to keep it that way. But before we start thinking about regional transit we need to start thinking about intra transit. We have terrible traffic problems in Ann Arbor, we need more people living in our city. I think before we even consider funding the type of infrastructure needed to support such a plan, we need to take a step back and take a look at what we can do to help our citizens before we help other citizens. I don't mean to sound like I don't care about those people -- I do. I'm just trying to take a step back and look at the bigger picture here. I believe it eventually will happened, but the time is not yet.
LWV: Ms. Lumm
Jane Lumm: I actually agree with a lot of what Mr. Brown just said. I of course did not support the ill-fated effort to dissolve the dedicated Ann Arbor bus system and replace it with a countywide transportation authority. I believed and continue to believe there are less risky and more incremental approaches to expanding transit. And there were a significant amount of resources, I think wasted on this effort -- Staff time and dollars by the AATA. We should've started out by consulting with all the outcounty jurisdictions to see if they were in fact interested in joining the countywide authority. On some of the proposals that are coming forward, I will certainly decide what I'm going to do when I see the detail. But I do not think, what's uppermost for me in my consideration of these various proposals, is the determination that there is an equal sharing of costs, and benefits among all the participants. Whether we're looking at new millages for expanded service, again, I'll consider these things in terms of the cost-benefit equation for Ann Arbor taxpayers. And whether there's equity for Ann Arbor taxpayers. And Ann Arbor taxpayers, you know, pay 2.056 mills, it's $9 million in taxes, that's significant, and what's being talked about now is an increase to expand services, would represent a 34% increase.
LWV: Mr. Westphal, bus system.
Kirk Westphal: Sure. You know, this is something that the AAATA has done and is doing with purchase of service agreements, where it is the other destinations who are funding the extensions of our transit system -- and I think that's appropriate. I don't think Ann Arbor voters right now have an appetite to fund, basically subsidize other regions' transportation into the core. I think what came across loud and clear after the countywide discussion was that people want to see better service within the urban core. I think that's the direction we're moving in. I'm excited to hear what the AAATA proposes for frequency of service. People on the doors keep telling me, oh I would take the bus if I could just get home at nine o'clock at night. Or go shopping on the weekend. As would I. So I'm excited to hear what comes out of that. There's more exciting news, especially for the Second Ward, with the connector study which is coming down with the possibility of higher intensity transit. This is something again that the voters have been asking for. We're seeing jobs coming into the city by the thousands in the next decade. And that means traffic, if we don't have something else to address moving people around. It means traffic and it means building more parking structures. So this is something that people are very excited about, and I am anxious to hear the proposal.
LWV: OK. This next question begins with Ms. Lumm and around he horn. As a member of the Ann Arbor city council what would you do to ensure that the city remains a great place to raise small children?
Jane Lumm: Well, I think, you know we all believe, we want to We're all sitting here because we want to ensure a strong and viable, you know, future, proper prosperous future, and I think that entails laying the groundwork for young and old. We have so many wonderful amenities in this city and we need to do our level best to support those amenities -- parks and recreation facilities, cultural amenities. But right now, frankly, it's not glitzy, and I said this previously, but I do think we've taken our eye off the ball to address some of the core needs the city has neglected over the last decade. Our safety services funding is down 30% over the last decade. And that is in, you know, I think our number one responsibility is to ensure the safety and security of our residents. And in addition to that, you know once we take care of the basics, we can address the more discretionary kinds of things. It's not just about basic services, but it's about taking care of those things first. And then we can address, you know, the various transportation proposals, public art, all the things that enhance the quality of life in our community, all of which you know are important, but it is all about about priorities in so many ways. And I do think.
LWV: Hold that thought. Mr. Westphal. Raising small children.
Kirk Westphal: Ann Arbor wins awards as a place to raise families. After my wife and I came here, we loved it so much we decided to have our family here. We can call our kids to King Elementary School, and it's just an idyllic existence for us. I think Ann Arbor does this demographic very well. So I think, even our downtown is a play, you know we have great playgrounds all around in the neighborhoods, the downtown is an entire playground for my kids. We'll take the bus in and spend our time walking down Main Street and popping in to Peaceable Kingdom. I couldn't ask for more. The Hands-on Museum, you name it. It's more that can fill a day. I think what could be a greater priority is to look at the demographics of what keeps cities successful: What is a picture of the city of the future? We don't do so well in the demographic of young professionals. They are driving the knowledge economy and technology growth. Also are a great place to retire, however we don't offer many dwelling units downtown for people who have mobility issues. I think our transit system serves them well, but I hear from talking to residents a lot of folks would like to have more options to live downtown. So it's a matter of priority, it's a matter of looking at where the demographic shifts are and where we can improve on. And I think we need to look at all those options.
LWV: OK. Mr. Brown.
Conrad Brown: First of all, I start off saying that I think the best thing we can do to make sure that Ann Arbor remains the great city that it is, is we have to ensure that the funds that we are spending are held to up to the utmost scrutiny. My conviction lies in that. I believe that before we can even think about more discretionary measures, we need to ensure that the basic functions of the city are met to their utmost extent, starting with roads and infrastructure which are in need of repair. And then again, like I was saying, offer practical reform for evaluating our zoning codes. As Mr. Westfall had mentioned, we need more dwelling units near and around our city. Sprawl is an issue. I think if we want to continue with their city being as nice a place as it is, we can't be so incredibly traffic congested that going somewhere is a hassle. And that we need to allow people to live in more compact living arrangements downtown -- for empty nesters and for young professionals. We talk about residents too but I think that young entrepreneurs and business owners are the lifeblood of Ann Arbor, so we need space, we need people to be able to expand and to live and have their businesses and also lived near them. And so, for example, have the University of Michigan, we have 4,000 engineers eager to innovate, start businesses, start startups. But they're simply not coming to Ann Arbor, they are going out west. They're going to the East Coast. Why? Why aren't they staying here? And I think that's an issue. I believe if we give more space for residents and give them more flexibility with their property, it'll remain a nice place to live.
LWV: OK. Probably our last question, we'll see. OK, Mr. Westphal, you get this one, this one is about rail transport in the city or from the city. Different proposals are being considered, one for the connector rail transport within the city and the university, and another between Ann Arbor Metropolitan Airport and Detroit. Will you please explain or lay out your opinions on either one of those or both? How do you feel about this transport?
Kirk Westphal: I think rail transportation is potentially the biggest game changer that Ann Arbor will have to wrestle with in the next generation. Cities who experience increased rail ridership tend to thrive. Rail has been the backbone of how we settle our nation for, for a long time. And I want to be cautious, I think we should all be cautious about how we evaluate how much investment in rail is appropriate. I don't know how many of you have seen the Amtrak station lately. I don't think anybody agrees that it's fine the way it is. It doesn't connect well to our local transportation. The federal government gave us a grant, which some council members voted against, but we got it anyway -- to study how to go about considering an upgraded rail hub. This is extremely important. I think we have to be methodical about evaluating what the options are. There's all kinds of complicated engineering requirements for the higher speed trains that are coming our way. Michigan is currently investing half a billion dollars in higher speed track. They are down there working now. So let's take it one step at a time.
LWV: Very good. Mr. Brown.
Conrad Brown: I think that issues like using tax dollars to invest in light rail for Ann Arbor is something we should be really careful about -- for the main reason that again it goes to the issue between public and private interests. I think that on paper the light rail system in the United States seems great and I'm sure as many of you use Twitter or Facebook, you'll see a type of image of light rail connecting the United States, and it seems great and it would be great. However, the modes to which to achieve that right now for local governance is a huge burden. It goes against the saying like to what extent are we willing to invest in such light rail transit line. For the city of Ann Arbor I think it's something that we would not be ready for. As you know, our neighbor is going bankrupt. Would I want to connect to a municipality like Detroit and all the way to Chicago? Who would pay for it? I'm sure there would be shortfalls that would have to be covered one way or another. We'd have to cut from somewhere else or raise taxes, that's what it really comes down to. And I think that when it comes to light transit rail, we already have a bus system that is serving this issue. And I know, as I said earlier, I would not be favor of a reasonable regional transit system for the bus, yet. But I believe that before we even consider light rail which is not necessarily more economically feasible, we should consider bussing, before we consider light rail.
LWV: OK. Ms. Lumm.
Jane Lumm: Thank you. My concern with, well you mentioned the train station, and I'll speak to that in a second. But we have multiple transportation-related initiatives. My concern has been and continues to be that the city's approach is not prioritized, not targeted or based on a cost-benefit analysis for Ann Arbor taxpayers. So here we are, the city simultaneously pursues all of the initiatives without a clear understanding of the cost-benefit or how either the upfront capital costs or required operating subsidies for any of them, for any of them, would be funded. I'm just saying let's pick one, let's prioritize, focus on how make it work and how to make it happen instead of doing everything all at once. On the train station, this is one of them, we've invested about $2.7 million so far. And the next step of the process is final design. That's expected to cost the city another $2.6 million local match. Mr. Wesphal mentioned that there were some on council who did not accept the money, it's like it's free money, except that money required a half-million plus in more local money, which we allocated from the general fund reserves. I did not support that, because that was to pay for local match that was required for the feasibility study and was the second time that the city funded the same local match that the city's initial spending didn't qualify for it. So you quickly realize that commuter rail, we've got two...Sorry. There's so much to talk about.
LWV [Judy Mich]: Put it in your closing statement, what can I say. So we will finish with that witt our last question. we will go in just a moment to the closing statements, and those will be handled in the order of Jane Lumm, Kirk Westphal, Conrad Brown. But we have a little league commercial first. Go ahead, Zoe.
LWV [Zoe Behnke]: The only proposal on the Nov. 5 ballot is Ann Arbor public schools to continue the sinking fund millage. This millage was approved in 2008 and it expires in 2014. This proposal would fund it from 2015 until 2019. It would levy one mill -- that's a dollar per $1000 of taxable valuation, to create a sinking fund for the purpose of construction or repair of school buildings and anything else permitted by law. It is estimated that one mill -- that's one dollar per $1000 of textile valuation -- would raise approximately $7,450,000 in the first year that it is levied.
LWV [Judy Mich]: OK, very good. Those of you who are Second Ward voters and are watching this, you will have a choice of these three candidates and you must vote yes or no upon the renewal of this millage. So don't say we didn't warn you. OK, two-minute closing statements. Let's begin, please, with Jane Lumm.
Jane Lumm: Thank you. Thanks again to the league for providing the opportunity tonight, thanks to the folks here and those watching at home to learn more about our values and priorities. My priorities have not changed -- to refocus spending on getting the basic services right, public safety and core infrastructure, streets, parks, sewers. And my view -- that the more discretionary, visionary things just need to be deferred until that happens -- that hasn't changed, either. If re-elected I will continue to work as hard as I can in advocating for those priorities and providing a voice for the many residents who've told me they share these priorities and appreciate finally having that voice. I'll also work to ensure that our community is strong economically, growing and vital. And that we at the same time maintain what makes us unique -- our character and charm our parks and our neighborhoods. We are fortunate in Ann Arbor. We're an attractive location for development and for business. We can successfully balance development, growth and preservation. It need not be an either-or choice. In my two tenures on council and 35+ years of engagement in the community I've learned a lot about the values and priorities of Second Ward residents. And working under two mayors I've also learned a lot about good governance. I can attest that local government works better when it is inclusive, transparent and open and there's open debate and accountable. Second Ward voters do have a clear choice in this election. You can continue with an independent, commonsense voice asking questions challenging things at City Hall. Or you can turn the clock back a couple of years, to a time when everyone on council was like-minded, supporting the mayor's visions and priorities and to a time when there was little public debate on alternative strategies, priorities or approaches. The choice is yours, of course, but I'm hopeful you choose the former, and that I've earned your support over the last two years. Either way is to vote on Nov. 5 Thanks you for your time and consideration.
LWV: Thank you for your time, too. Mr. Westphal.
Kirk Westphal: Thank you once again to the league and to CTN for providing a forum for this valuable dialogue, and also to Mr. Brown and Ms. Lumm for the great service they're doing by running for office. I think we've seen some areas of agreement tonight, which is heartening. Core services need to be top-notch. Tax-payer dollars aren't being wasted. There's no money being diverted to discretionary items anymore. The big question I want answered is: Where is the city going? We're adding jobs, were starting to diversify our economy -- these are good things. But we need to handle these changes. We need a plan to handle them. We know from other cities that when their leadership plugs their ears and refuses to plan for change, the outcome is not good. Traffic congestion. Population decline. Crumbling infrastructure. Ben Franklin said: "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." Based on sound data, we have to identify which investments in our future will give us the greatest payback. You save up for your kid's college education because you know it's a profitable investment. It's not an emotional issue, it's a fact. Yet we've heard council members who have invoked all manner of excuses not to invest in our future. Excuses inspired by Sisyphus: We shouldn't invest in the future until we have filled every pothole. Or the Catch-22 excuse: We should not invest in the future because we don't know what the future holds. As an urban planner, I know council can and must do better. But to do this, I need you to vote. A friend of mine recently told me: "Kirk I hate to admit this but I haven't been voting in local elections. Everything is going great so I feel like I'd just mess things up." This is not to judge. I've been that guy in places I've lived before. And Ann Arbor's been doing well for the past 10 years despite very low voter turnout. I'm telling you tonight, it's no longer okay to sit-out local elections. Council is at a tipping point. One seat and one vote is all it takes to go backward instead of forward. If you believe in planning for our future, please vote for me, Kirk Westphal for Ward 2. Go to kirkforcouncil.org if you want to get involved. Ann Arbor needs you.
LWV: Thank you very much and we'll close with the closing from Mr. Brown
Conrad Brown: Again, I want to say thank you to the League of Women Voters and to everyone who came out and everyone at home who's watching. Ladies and gentlemen of Ann Arbor, I sit before you today as a fellow concerned citizen who cares deeply about the city. I can say that growing up in Flint, Michigan, has given me a unique perspective on what inept government and fiscal mismanagement can do to a town, once vibrant and proud as Flint. I know these two cities are a world apart. And that local government is not by any means the only source of the city's woes. But I believe if we want Ann Arbor to remain a wonderful place is to live, and for it to become even better as the future unfolds we need leadership that not afraid to address the problems at hand. I know everyone here, my fellow opponents, we are all concerned about the problems facing our city. I'm trying to offer practical solutions to these problems -- such as our growing traffic concerns and increase of urban sprawl. This will have to consist of allowing more people to live in our city. And we need to have serious debate about reforming our zoning code in order to do this. Furthermore, I think that while the other candidates in the past have expressed concern about the DDA and the use of tax increment financing to subsidize private developers and corporations, and the fact that large sums of your tax dollars are being controlled by unelected bureaucrats, who are not held accountable by you, the voter. To me, on principle, this is unacceptable and bad policy that's why I would be willing to abolish tax increment financing. In turn, the money that's captured by the system could instead be used to put towards services that best serve the city such as fixing the roads and infrastructure. And that being said, it's very easy to tak uncalculated risks when spending someone else's money. That's why I will remain committed and my conviction lies in holding the spending of your tax dollars to the utmost scrutiny. And I will fight to ensure that the tax dollars that are here will be sent to the essential services to better serve you the voter.