Ann Arbor Primary Contest Unclear

As of today’s deadline (4 p.m. on Tuesday, May 10, 2011), nominating petitions for a total of 12 candidates for 5 seats on the 11-member Ann Arbor city council had been filed. But only 10 of them have clearly achieved the required 100 signatures from registered voters in their ward.

In Ward 1, incumbent Democrat Sabra Briere submitted 106 valid signatures, and will not face a challenger in the Democratic primary. No Republican filed in Ward 1.

In Ward 2, the Democratic primary will feature incumbent Democrat Stephen Rapundalo (107 signatures) and Tim Hull (120 signatures).

In Ward 3, incumbent Democrat Stephen Kunselman (108 signatures) will contest the Democratic primary with Ingrid Ault (110 signatures) and possibly Marwan Issa. As of 4 p.m. Issa had submitted 94 signatures determined to be valid. However, the city clerk’s staff had disallowed a petition sheet with 20 signatures, based on a statement made by the petition circulator.

City clerk staff say the circulator for Issa told them he’d left the petition sheet at a house where several family members of Issa live so that they could sign it. Staff had disallowed the sheet of signatures, because it’s required that a petition circulator witness the signature of people signing the petition. A family member of Issa at the clerk’s office window on Tuesday afternoon felt that the circulator may have misunderstood the question asked of him by the clerk’s staff, saying that the sheet had been properly circulated.

City clerk staff say that Issa can take up the issue of the disallowed petition sheet as well as other disallowed signatures with city clerk Jackie Beaudry, when she returns to work in the clerk’s office on Thursday, May 11. Today and Wednesday, Beaudry is working in Lansing looking at new election equipment.

The winner of the Ward 3 Democratic primary will face Republican David Parker (100 signatures) in the fall.

In Ward 4, incumbent Democrat Marcia Higgins (102 signatures) will not face a contested primary. In November she’ll face Eric Scheie (107 signatures), who filed petitions as a Republican.

In Ward 5, incumbent Democrat Mike Anglin (109 signatures) will face Neal Elyakin (107 signatures) in the Democratic primary. Republican Stuart Berry submitted only 97 valid signatures to run in Ward 5, falling three short of qualifying. [Update: Later in the evening after double-checking signatures, clerk staff were able to verify some of the 120 signatures submitted by Berry that had previously been questioned as not valid, bringing his total to 102, qualifying him as a candidate.]

Each of the city’s five wards is represented with two seats on the council. Councilmembers serve two-year terms, with one seat per ward contested each year. The mayor is also a member of the council, but this year is not a mayoral election year.