Recount Confirms: Kunselman Wins

Council committee dynamics to change as Greden departs
Greden Kunselman recount Ward 3 city of Ann Arbor city council election

Matt Yankee, deputy clerk with Washtenaw County, marks ticks in columns as candidate names are read aloud during the recount of the Aug. 4 Democratic primary election for the Ward 3 city council seat. (Photo by the writer.)

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.

Results After the Recount

At the end of the recount on Friday morning, here’s how the final vote tally stood:

WARD 3             Bullington  Greden   Kunselman

Precinct 3-1,3-2      3         20        45
Precinct 3-3         92        160        96
Precinct 3-4,3-7    149        159       137
Precinct 3-5         25         32        23
Precinct 3-6,3-9     66         75       118
Precinct 3-8         47         59        92

Totals              382        505       511


Miscellaneous Roundup from the Morning Recount


Overall Mood: Not Bitter

Given the number of “watchers” on behalf of the various candidates, The Chronicle posed a question to Greden, regarding which people were there on his behalf: “So not all of the watchers are here officially watching for you …” He quipped in reply: “No, Latitia Letitia Kunselman is not here watching on my behalf.”

Greden also showed no visible sign of chaffing when his name was repeatedly mispronounced at one of the counting tables – each candidate’s name is called out when a ballot with a vote for them is examined. Last year, at the Ward 5 Carsten Hohnke-Vivienne Armentrout recount, The Chronicle noted that “… a predictable range of pronunciations for ‘Hohkne‘Hohnke’ could be heard.” This year, it probably couldn’t have been predicted that Greden would be rendered as “Brenden” – but it was.

Where Was Kunselman?

Why wasn’t Stephen Kunselman there in person? Letitia Kunselman told The Chronicle that he was in California – he’d gone with his son, Shane, to launch him into his freshman year in college.

Who Were the Watchers?

In alphabetical order, the names of the watchers – who helped verify that the recounting was proceeding to the satisfaction of all interested parties:

  • Tim Colenbeck Colenback
  • Dave DeVarti
  • Tony Derezinski
  • Jack Eaton
  • Diane Giannola
  • Lou Glorie
  • Leah Gunn
  • Letitia Kunselman
  • Pat Lesko
  • Joan Lowenstein
  • Lois Mayfield
  • Peggy Rabhi
  • Karen Sidney
  • Christopher Taylor
  • Tom Wieder

We leave it as a political puzzle to match watchers with the candidate on whose behalf they attended.

Impact on Committee Structure

The city council reorganizes itself into committees soon after the new council is formally installed every November. Five committees on which Greden currently serves will thus have a different look in a couple of months. Here’s who currently serves on those committees:

  • Budget and Labor Committee: Leigh Greden, Stephen Rapundalo, John Hieftje, Marcia Higgins, Margie Teall
  • Council Administration Committee: Leigh Greden, Stephen Rapundalo, John Hieftje, Marcia Higgins, Margie Teall
  • DDA Mutually Beneficial Committee: Leigh Greden, Carsten Hohnke, Margie Teall
  • City Council Representative to DDA Partnerships Committee: Leigh Greden
  • Student Relations Committee: Leigh Greden, Carsten Hohnke

Where Did These Committees Come From?

We’ve pieced together a brief history of these committees based on the description in the 2006 City of Ann Arbor Boards, Commissions and Committees document. Some significant consolidations in committee structure took place in December 2005. One effect of the restructuring was to collapse different committees with similar functions into single committees. One consequence, in some cases, was to reduce the breadth of participation in committees.

Budget and Labor (Negotiation) Committee

The stated purpose of the council’s budget and labor committee is:

To work with City Administrator to advise about City labor issues. To advise the Mayor, Council and City Administrator on matters relating to the City’s comprehensive annual financial report, audited statements and management letter; appointment of independent auditors; the City’s financial condition including revenue issues; financial investment policies and procedures; short- term and long-term borrowing policies and proposals; matters relating to the budget process, implementation and administration; and short-term and long-term financial polices and plans.

The council’s Budget and Labor Committee was established on Dec. 5, 2005 when the city council of that year passed the resolution establishing its committee structure for 2006. The membership of the Budget and Labor Committee is defined as five members – the mayor plus four members of the city council. It included at that time – and appears to continue to include – three ex officio members: the city administrator, the city’s chief financial officer, and a member of the commission on disability issues.

Budget and Labor combined what had previously been two different committees: (i) the Budget/Finance Committee, and (ii) the Labor Negotiation Committee.

Prior to 2006, the Budget/Finance Committee was a 13-member body: the mayor, four councilmembers, three citizen members, the city administrator or representative, the budget director, the finance director, and two other department heads appointed by the city administrator.

Prior to 2006, the only mention of the Labor Negotiation Committee we could find was a reference to the 1997 edition of that 5-member council committee: Stephen C. Hartwell and Elisabeth L. Daley (Democrats), and Ingrid Sheldon, David Kwan, and Jane Lumm (Republicans).

When first established as such in December 2005, the council’s Budget and Labor Committee consisted of John Hieftje, Christopher Easthope, Leigh Greden, Marcia Higgins, and Joan Lowenstein.

Council Administration Committee

The Council Administration Committee was also established in December 2005 as the combination of other previously existing committees when council reorganized its committees:

Established to combine the following committees into one: Special Liquor Committee, Real Estate Committee, Ad Hoc Rules Committee, City Attorney Committee, City Administrator Committee.

The last two committees in the list historically performed the specific task of evaluating the performance of the city attorney and the city administrator. For both of these committees, the membership was specified to be the mayor plus a councilmember of each ward (for a total of six), the specific councilmember to be determined by the two ward representatives.

In council rules, the Council Administration Committee is given a large part of the responsibility of setting and approving the agenda:

Approval of the Draft Agenda. The City Administrator shall submit the draft agenda and supporting materials to the Council Administration Committee for approval 10 days prior to the next Council meeting. The Council Administration Committee will approve the agenda 7 days prior to the next Council meeting. Once approved by the Council Administration Committee, no matter from staff shall be placed on the agenda for action. Council members may add items to the agenda at any time.

When originally constituted as such in December 2005, the membership of the Council Administration Committee consisted of Leigh Greden, Christopher Easthope, Marcia Higgins, John Roberts and Margie Teall.

DDA Mutually Beneficial Committee

The DDA Mutually Beneficial Committee was formed for the specific purpose of renegotiating the parking agreement between the Downtown Development Authority and the city. The city has a goal of convincing the DDA to pay around $2 million to the city for the 2011 budget year, which the DDA is not contractually obligated to pay.

In early 2009, the city council passed a resolution calling on the DDA to open a discussion on the topic. The DDA responded by forming a committee to meet with a corresponding committee on the city council. The city council then delayed formation of its own committee, because some councilmembers did not like the constitution of the DDA’s committee. One place to start for some of the details of that dynamic is a May 23, 2009 article on the DDA mid-year retreat.

[In the original version of this article, the Letitia Kunselman's name was misspelled throughout.]

Greden Kunselman recount Ward 3 city of Ann Arbor city council election

Seated at the table, Matt Yankee, deputy county clerk, and Frances McMullan, Ypsilanti city clerk, who helped staff one of the recount tables. In red in the background: Melodie Gable, chair of the county's board of canvassers. Holding a cup in the background is Ann Arbor city clerk, Jackie Beaudry. (Photo by the writer.)

Greden Kunselman recount Ward 3 city of Ann Arbor city council election

Frances McMullan, Ypsilanti city clerk, wields wire snips to break the seal of a bag containing paper ballots. Note: The Chronicle made its civic contribution to the recount by lending out the wire snips (we carry a bag of tools everywhere) to save some time in tracking down scissors. (Photo by the writer.)

Greden Kunselman recount Ward 3 city of Ann Arbor city council election

Leigh Greden, left, with Joan Lowenstein and Jackie Beaudry, right. (Photo by the writer.)

Greden Kunselman recount Ward 3 city of Ann Arbor city council election

At right and mostly off camera, Tom Wieder follows the tick marks of the recounting on his own notepad. The orange folder in the background belongs to Leigh Greden. (Photo by the writer.)

Greden Kunselman recount Ward 3 city of Ann Arbor city council election

"Whoah, there, Larry Kestenbaum, sit back down, I didn't say I was done talking to you!" That, of course, is not what this WEMU reporter said to the county clerk. Kestenbaum gave welcoming and closing remarks at the recount. (Photo by the writer.)


  1. August 29, 2009 at 1:02 pm | permalink

    Stephen Kunselman will serve the 3rd Ward well. He is intelligent, balanced, fair, accessible and he loves the City. What more could we ask for?

    Congratulations to Stephen on a well run campaign.


  2. By Glenn Gottfried
    August 29, 2009 at 7:52 pm | permalink

    Kudos to Larry Kestenbaum for coordinating both the original effort and the recount efficiently and accurately. Drama-free is the way these things should proceed, and he has done his usual good job of effecting exactly that!

  3. By Joan Lowenstein
    August 30, 2009 at 9:00 pm | permalink

    We are lucky to have both Larry Kestenbaum and City Clerk Jackie Beaudry. The fact that there were no mistakes is evidence of how well Beaudry and her staff train poll workers.

  4. By mr dairy
    September 1, 2009 at 8:58 am | permalink

    The seemingly forgotten nugget in this informative and well written article is the committee reorganization.

    The Budget & Labor and the City Administration committees in particular were reorganized in ways that make them a lot less transparent to oversight. It’s sad and a little disturbing that those committees now lack any at large members from the public and seem to be plums to dished out by those in control of council and its agenda.

    Not surprisingly, the members of those powerful committees seem stacked in favor of the Mayor and his supporters on council.

    Not as transparent as it once was. Strange how we miss the details with all the other stuff going on, isn’t it?

  5. September 1, 2009 at 10:08 am | permalink

    I agree, Dave’s reporting on the workings of the power structure will have archival value long after the discussion of this individual race has receded into the background.

    And thanks for the wire snips.

  6. By a2eastsider
    September 3, 2009 at 10:43 am | permalink

    Kudos indeed to the City Clerk and all of the election workers. We are very fortunate to have people in these roles who take the process seriously and do such a careful, and responsible job.

    Howerver, I disagree with Stew’s analysis of the campaign. I feel Mr. Kunselman ran as a whining victim rather than as somebody who has something positive to add to our City governance. I also don’t feel he did a good or even reasonable job the last time he served, and that is why he was ousted after his first term. I hope that he is ousted yet again in the next round of elections.