Running for Mayor of Ann Arbor: Steve Bean

At the clerk's office with an independent candidate

Running for mayor as an independent candidate starts pretty easy.

Steve Bean City Clerk Office

Steve Bean obtains nominating petitions as an independent candidate for mayor of the city of Ann Arbor. Behind the glass in the city clerk's office is Lyn Badalamenti. (Photos by the writer.)

It’s a five-minute session at the city clerk’s office.

This brief background piece covers some of the nuts and bolts of that process, based on Steve Bean’s Tuesday afternoon appearance on the second floor of city hall at the city clerk’s office. As a bonus, there’s a bit of city history thrown in.

After Bean told Lyn Badalamenti in the city clerk’s office that he was there to pick up nominating petitions, she set to work assembling a sheaf of papers. The spelling of Bean’s family name was the first order of business: “Like the vegetable,” he offered. Next up: A choice between “Steve” versus “Steven.”

The name that potential signatories of Bean’s petitions will see – as well as voters looking at November’s ballot – is “Steve.”

His name will be recognizable to some readers from his service on the city’s environmental commission. He now chairs that body. Before that, he served for nine years on the city’s energy commission. Some city records, especially older documents like city council minutes from April 9, 1992 – which contain the record of his appointment to the energy commission – show Bean’s name as “Steven.”

But the choice for the shortened variant was one he’d thought through before Badalamenti asked him: “That’s how people know me,” Bean explained to The Chronicle.

In the category of “the more things change,” those April 9, 1992 minutes indicate a discussion of over-exuberant University of Michigan basketball fans who apparently aroused concerns about public safety. They were celebrating the team’s advancement to the Final Four in the NCAA tournament. [The Wolverines lost in the final game that year to Duke University.]

In the category of “the more they stay the same,” the minutes indicate that one of Bean’s fellow energy commission appointees was Weston Vivian. Vivian, like Bean, goes by the shortened version of his name – that’s “Wes.” And Vivian spoke this past Monday to the city council during a public hearing on the Google Fiber initiative. Vivian told councilmembers that if Google doesn’t choose Ann Arbor as a location to install a fiber network, the city needs to figure out another way to make it happen.

Also in the category of things that stay the same are the petition requirements that Badalamenti handed to Bean as part of the sheaf of papers that all candidates receive. That packet includes:

  • 400 lines worth of qualifying petitions – 20 pages with 20 lines apiece
  • a sheet of rules for candidates who are circulating nominating petitions for city offices
  • a message from Washtenaw County clerk Larry Kestenbaum, outlining the campaign finance reporting requirements
  • the statement of organization form for candidate committees from the Michigan Department of the State Bureau of Elections
  • the form for the post-election campaign finance compliance statement
  • an affidavit of identity and receipt of filing

The qualifying petitions were copied with Bean’s name already filled in. That’s why Badalamenti needed it – to comply with the city charter requirement that petitions specify the person on whose behalf the petitions are to be circulated:

13.8 (b) Before the Clerk furnishes petition forms to any person, the Clerk shall enter thereon, in ink or by typewriter, the name of the person in whose behalf the petition is to be circulated and the name of the office for which the person is a candidate. No petition form which has been altered with respect to such entries shall be received by the Clerk for filing.

It’s not illegal to obtain and circulate petitions on behalf of someone else. But it’s not possible to place someone’s name on the ballot against their will:

13.10 (a) When petitions are filed by persons other than the person whose name appears as a candidate, they may be accepted for filing only when accompanied by the written consent of the person in whose behalf the petition was circulated.

Bean will need to collect at least 50 signatures from each of the city’s five wards for a total of at least 250. It’s not possible to engage in the intimidation tactic of collecting a number of petitions massively in excess of the minimum [emphasis added]:

13.8 (a) [...] Each petition filed by or on behalf of a person seeking nomination to the offices of Mayor shall be signed by not less than 250 nor more than 350 registered electors including at least 50 signatures of residents of each ward. [...]

The petition filing deadline for independent candidates like Bean – those without a party affiliation – is different from the deadline for candidates contesting one of the party’s primaries:

Act 116 168.590c Sec. 590c.
(1) A qualifying petition for an office shall be filed with the filing officer authorized to receive a partisan nominating petition or a certificate of nomination for that office.
(2) A qualifying petition for an office elected at the general November election shall be filed not later than 4 p.m. of the one hundred-tenth day before the general election. A qualifying petition for an official elected at an election other than the general November election shall be filed not later than the deadline established by statute or charter for filing a partisan petition or certificate of nomination for the office or at least 90 days before that election, whichever is later.

This year, 110 days before the Nov. 2, 2010 general election translates to July 15, 2010.

After filing petitions, it’s possible to change your mind and not have your name appear on the ballot. But it’s a narrow window:

(3) A candidate who files a qualifying petition shall not be permitted to withdraw his or her candidacy unless a written notice of withdrawal is filed with the filing officer who received the petition. The notice shall be filed not later than 4 p.m. of the third day after the last day for filing a qualifying petition.

For candidates contesting either the Republican or Democratic primary, the deadline for filing petitions is determined by the 12th Tuesday before the Aug. 3, 2010 primary – May 11 this year.

Finally, for citizens who are asked by prospective candidates for office to sign their nominating petitions, signing does not represent an obligation to vote for that person come election day. But there is a kind of obligation attached – signing nominating petitions for different candidates for the same office results in the disqualification of both signatures:

13.9 (b) If any person signs a greater number of petitions for any office than there will be persons elected to that office, that person’s signature shall be disregarded on all petitions for that office.

The city of Ann Arbor website has additional information on filing petitions for Ann Arbor city office on the city clerk’s page.

Steve Bean, 46, is vice president of Berg & Associates, Inc. He designs database management systems for Berg clients. Peter Schermerhorn will serve as Bean’s campaign treasurer.


  1. March 17, 2010 at 8:12 am | permalink

    OK, I’ll bite. Why is Steve running for mayor? What’s is platform?

    I thought he and Mayor Hieftje were joined at the hip. What happened.

  2. By Richard
    March 17, 2010 at 8:24 am | permalink

    What is his campaign web site? Is there a place we can learn more about what his goals for AA are?

  3. By Dave Askins
    March 17, 2010 at 8:38 am | permalink

    Re: [2] There is not yet a campaign website.

  4. By Leslie Morris
    March 17, 2010 at 9:16 am | permalink

    It’s almost certainly a safety candidacy, to be used only if John Hieftje loses the primary.

  5. By Jack 40
    March 17, 2010 at 9:36 am | permalink

    What is Mr. Bean’s view on Greenbelt money being used to pay twice the value for the Braun Farm rights? Is he good with that waste of tax dollars?

  6. By Jack 40
    March 17, 2010 at 11:42 am | permalink

    Mr. Bean’s views on:

    1. Tax increases?
    2. City income tax?
    3. The Court-Police Buidling ‘Urinal Art’?
    4. His campaign manager’s participation in the Green Party?

  7. By jannarbor
    March 17, 2010 at 11:55 am | permalink

    Thanks for this informative article about how an independent candidate goes about applying to run for mayor in Ann Arbor and about how Steve Bean recently initiated this process. I imagine we’ll hear more about his platform as the campaign season gets underway.

  8. By Pete Schermerhorn
    March 17, 2010 at 12:37 pm | permalink

    Jack 40 (re: 6)

    I haven’t been active with the Green Party for more than 3 years. While Steve speaks for himself, there is no pressure from me or anyone to push a Green Party agenda here. And I am serving as campaign Treasurer, not Manager. Thanks for the interest, though!

  9. By Anon-U-Are
    March 17, 2010 at 12:58 pm | permalink

    First thing, kudos to beating the Annarbor.snooze on this, but please, dear god, who cares about the process of filling out paperwork to run for mayor! Process is NOT interesting.

    Take this as constructive critique. How about starting by asking Steve the obvious — why is he pulling papers…

  10. By ChrisW
    March 17, 2010 at 1:23 pm | permalink

    I disagree with ANON-U-ARE. The process *is* interesting. Maybe others will run when they see it’s not so hard.

  11. By anon-am-i
    March 17, 2010 at 1:27 pm | permalink

    I agree with *both* anon-u-are and chrisw! The process, while perhaps not inherently interesting, is worth describing, for at least the reason chrisw cites–that it is valuable to the community for people to know what it entails. But unfortunately this article was pretty dully written, and would have benefitted from editing to include sprinkled references to *why* Steve Bean is in the pictured office!

  12. By Jack 40
    March 17, 2010 at 2:12 pm | permalink

    Re: 8,

    Thanks for you clarification and I agree 100% with what you wrote on arborupdate on 10/31/06:

    “I wonder what’s happened to the idea of cities being run by people who a) have experience in the community (for real, not just on public boards) and b) know what they’re talking about?”


  13. March 17, 2010 at 3:47 pm | permalink

    Here are some more questions for Steve Bean:

    If you were mayor, would you vote in favor of the Heritage Row project?

    If you were mayor, would you vote in favor of the Moravian project?

    If you had been on the City Council for the past several years, would you have voted for the Courts/Police Facility?

    Name three issues on which you differ with Mayor Hieftje.

    Do you favor or oppose the construction of big buildings downtown?

    Do you favor or oppose the construction of big buildings in the near-downtown neighborhoods?

    The road to power in Ann Arbor runs through the August Democratic primary. Bearing this in mind, would you consider running for mayor in this primary instead of as an independent?

  14. By Mark Koroi
    March 17, 2010 at 9:35 pm | permalink

    I believe Steve would be a viable candidate if he ran in the Democratic Party primary. It would even be better running as a Green Party nominee as opposed to an independent.

    Look what happened to Hatim Elhady last year. Running as an indepedent ruined his chances at victory.

    I would classify Mr. Bean as a “Green Democrat”.

    He is probably one of the most knowledgeable appointees of the Mayor.

  15. March 18, 2010 at 12:38 am | permalink

    I appreciate the questions. I’ll see if I can briefly (ha!) respond to everyone’s. Feel free to follow up with more.

    @7: Yes, you will. Thanks for understanding that there’s plenty of time for us to get to know each other better. I’m planning on offering some opportunities to discuss issues throughout the summer, and, as many of you know, I’m not shy about online discussion.

    @1: First, to state the obvious, I’m a candidate for mayor because I’d like to serve Ann Arbor residents in that role. Simply put, I think I would enjoy it. I love public policy analysis and discussing it with others. I’ve learned that doing what I love is good for me and everyone around me. And that’s not naivete speaking — I appreciate the work that goes into service. I’ve spent my whole adult life in Ann Arbor in the city government/community interface. Ask me (any of you, not just David) sometime about what I’ve participated in. We probably have some activities in common.

    As for my platform, I’m in no hurry to refine that or limit it in any way. My intention is to build on my work with the Environmental Commission to establish sustainability goals for the city so that our policies and decision-making are guided by the application of environmental quality, economic vitality, and social equity filters. Also, it’s safe to say that clarity of thought (questioning thoughts and assumptions against reality — which, as you may have heard, I love — and challenging generalizations, characterizations and misrepresentations) and communication will be subjects that I give regular attention. My approach to issues is more about examining, questioning, and exploring alternatives than only making a case for a particular perspective, though I do that in some cases, even to the point of representing one that I don’t necessarily agree with if I think it will further the discussion.

    @2: I plan to have a web site, FaceBook page, and a campaign email address, minimally. It remains to be seen whether or not the site will include a blog.

    @4: When I told the mayor Monday night after the council meeting that I was going to be a candidate, it was news to him. I’ll be on the November general election ballot.

    @5: Obviously, I’m not okay with waste, of tax revenues or otherwise. I imagine that the members of the Greenbelt Advisory Commission will address the matter of unanticipated land value changes very soon. PDR is a tool that was brought into use later than it might have been most useful to (and that’s just the reality), and is now deserving of review for its value in the future.

    @6: I’ll respond later.

    @9-11: I would love to see more candidates, affiliated or not, male or female, of any complexion, age, ableness, or orientation — sexual or otherwise. I’ll be offering a perspective that expands the scope of our discourse, but by no means does a tall, white man bring a first-person take that’s outside the already — if not over — represented.

    Getting the paperwork was interesting, and not at all difficult. Maybe Dave would be interested in reporting on the back-story at some point.

    Also, one thing Dave didn’t catch is that Lyn first assumed that I wanted petitions for partisan, and then that I wanted them for city council. She sincerely apologized for both assumptions, after recognizing them as such without comment from me.

    @13: Since Dave Cahill hasn’t asked any questions yet, I’ll respond before waiting for others. (Are you related to David Cahill, by chance? Maybe his son? ;-) )

    Regarding Heritage Row, The Moravian, or any other development proposals, I can’t give an honest answer to a hypothetical voting question, in part because they’re complex and difficult to evaluate without having followed them closely. (I’ve read some of the online coverage and discussions, but not enough.) I have questions that I would want to pose, too. That said, I wonder when I see or hear comments about dilapidated houses in areas where students rent that are described as being deserving of demolition. I’ve seen individual houses (one on Hill near Green comes to mind), but not rows of them. The embodied energy of any existing structure is worthy of consideration, as are zoning, the character of surrounding buildings and uses, among others. Stepping back a bit, what I think we have an opportunity for is to clearly identify the gaps in our policies that result in the recurrence of contentious proposals, especially near the downtown, and clarify the bounds for both developers and decision-makers.

    Regarding the police/courts building, if (we’re already entering a second level of hypotheticalness) no other alternative had been identified — which I imagine I would have actively explored — I imagine that I would have voted for it, or a scaled down version (but now I’m getting into hindsight-advantage territory.) Whereas I think Vivienne Armentrout was raising concerns about the cost several years ago, IIRC, relative to the budget reserves, I thought that solidly identifying a feasible alternative was the first step. I had my own concerns at the time about the potential for some level of economic collapse in the near future, which came to pass, but I was devoting time to the proposed underground parking structure while Vivienne and others focused more on the p/c building.

    Regarding differences on issues, I imagine that I agree with John on the relative importance of many issues and differ from him on aspects of all of them. (Details, details.) John and I have actually had very few opportunities to discuss any matters. We had lunch once at which I presented an idea I had for setting up a revolving loan fund for residential and business energy efficiency improvements. I like to think that pieces of that concept are now being implemented by various entities in town. One issue that I’ll be presenting my thoughts on in more detail at some point is the underground parking structure at the library lot and its impact on several interrelated systems.

    Which brings us back to the inaccurate assumption in #1. All that “happened” is that I found myself in a point in my life where I was prepared to step forward for your consideration. I could wait two years, and I’m not doing that.

    Regarding “big” buildings, I favor the community deciding such matters, as I believe we have (with some possible gaps as noted above.) I have more thoughts and some questions on that topic, but I’d like to wrap this up.

    Regarding running as an independent, I disagree with your premise, first of all. The “road to power” doesn’t exist, in my mind. If it did, that would mean I was confused, and I don’t think we want that in a community leader. I have a fair understanding of democracy and politics, as well as hubris and humility. I want to represent every Ann Arborite to the extent that they want me to. Years ago I worked at building a political party, until I decided that building community is more important. I’m an independent (thinker) and I won’t pretend otherwise. I’ll pose this one question back to you: Would you want me to?

    @14: (A late addition) I appreciate the compliment and the attempt to put my candidacy into familiar context. That gets into a discussion of political considerations that I’m happy to participate in privately, and about which I wonder the value of it to voters, given that I won’t be changing my filing status.

    Finally, I don’t consider myself to be running for mayor (with acknowledgment of my semantic tendencies.) I’m a candidate. I don’t feel a need to convince anyone. You’re all very capable of weighing your choices for yourself. I’m here to answer questions to the extent that I can (or at least respond.) If elected, and in my own engaged citizenship, I’ll continue asking them as well. If anything, I’m walking for election, at whatever pace is comfortable for everyone. If you see me on the sidewalk, please introduce yourself. I’ll slow down, stop, or even change directions, as you like so that we can chat.

  16. March 18, 2010 at 9:02 am | permalink

    Since my name came up in Steve’s comments, I’d like to clarify that I did lobby (including messages to the mayor and council) against the police-courts addition in 2007, when critical decisions were being made. Part of that was concern about reserves but I also believed (as a result of conversations with commissioners and the county administrator) that the county would definitely permit the city to remain in the county courthouse for longer than the stated lease. And there were definitely alternatives. The county long said that the city could pay for an addition to the county courthouse (this might have been less costly). But the City Center building was an even better alternative. The major problem, aside from the conditions of the police quarters, was that the 15th District Court was not being well treated within the courts system in terms of access to facilities. It would have been much less expensive to construct a couple of courtrooms in the City Center Building, and other city functions (such as the police) could have been moved into there as well. Though it was said that this was not feasible, good data were never shown to support that claim, and I know that there was an offer on the table to sell the City Center building to the city. Unfortunately we are now saddled with an overbuilt facility that has truncated our abilities to carry on operating a city and even has been acknowledged as costing more in operational costs.

    The underground parking garage has had a long history of working through the DDA, but council only approved it in early 2009. I was no longer a candidate for office but wrote and lobbied against that too. Both the history and my arguments are here: [link].

  17. By Junior
    March 20, 2010 at 11:56 am | permalink

    Many are surprised yet encouraged by the candidacy of Steve Bean.

    Bean presents a pleasant contrast to the strident and confrontational tone set by other political activists in Ann Arbor, such as Patricia Lesko and Dr. Aimee Smith.

    Bean, a former activist in the Huron Valley Greens, has retained Pete Schermerhorn as his campaign treasurer. Pete is a member of the People’s Food Coop board of directors and a former City Council candidate on the Green Party ticket. Pete is also a current member of the Michigan Green Party, and is also a current albeit inactive member of the Huron Valley Greens.

    The heart and soul of Ann Arbor is the Green Party. Dr. Smith received over 2,000 votes in her quest for a congressional seat in 2008. The Greens goal of promoting environmentalism and grass roots citizen involvement and empowerment at the local levels of government is something that most Ann Arborites can agree upon as well as its commitment to social justice.

    The Ann Arbor Democratic Party in recent years has been reduced to being contolled by Chicago-style bosses who act as business agents for developers and other pro-business benefactors who donate thousands to their candidates to protect their vested interests. Pro-business appointments are made to city boards and commissions and these politcal hacks act as rubber stamps for the agenda of thier benefactors. This bathos has disgusted most AADP members including several City Council members.

    Steve Bean will have the support of many Ann Arborites this fall, but does he have any chance of defeating the powerful and well-connected Hieftje? I have my doubts.

    My recommendation to Steve is to run against Hohnke in the Fifth Ward as a Democrat; he would likely win as Fifth Warders want Hohnke out in the worst way.

  18. By Boatman
    March 21, 2010 at 7:59 am | permalink

    Unfortunately, I find myself opposing Mr. Bean. His recommendation to remove Argo Dam is the reason I find myself parting company.

    The impact to so many young athletes as well as paddlers such as myself, who deeply enjoy Argo Pond leads me to find a better candidate.



  19. March 22, 2010 at 11:35 am | permalink

    Independant? Good Idea since the Democrats are the party of Bad Ideas and the Republicans are the party of no ideas!! lets see what happens

  20. By John Floyd
    March 24, 2010 at 9:33 pm | permalink

    @19 Mr. Braun, I beg to differ. I, for one, am full of ideas for Ann Arbor.