Dems Without Primary: Ward 1, Ward 4

Sabra Briere's path to another Ward 1 council term currently clear

The 11-member Ann Arbor city council is composed purely of Democrats. Of the five incumbents who are seeking re-election this year, three have contested primaries. So two of them already have a spot on the Nov. 8 ballot – Sabra Briere in Ward 1 and Marcia Higgins in Ward 4. Higgins will face Republican Eric Scheie in November.


Sabra Briere (Ward 1) at the June 11 forum hosted by the Ann Arbor Democratic Party. (Photos by the writer.)

But unless an independent candidate files by Aug. 15, Briere’s path to re-election is completely free of opponents.

Still, the Ann Arbor Democratic Party invited all Democratic candidates to a forum on Saturday morning, June 11. Unlike primary elections themselves, which cost the city about $7,000 per ward to administer, the only additional cost to the extra invitations was two minutes of the public’s time.

The forum was held in the context of the Ann Arbor Democratic Party’s regular monthly meeting at its usual location in the Ann Arbor Community Center on North Main Street.

At the forum, the seven Democratic candidates in those wards with contested primary races were asked to respond to a series of questions from party co-chair Mike Henry. Briere and Higgins were also invited to deliver some remarks at the conclusion of the event. Higgins was not able to attend, but Briere accepted the invitation.

After the break, we summarize what Briere had to say in her allotted two minutes, after she listened to the other candidates respond to questions posed by Henry. We also provide a sampling of photos from Saturday’s event. Summaries of responses made by candidates for seats in Ward 2Ward 3 and Ward 5 are presented in separate articles.

It’s also worth noting that the last day to register to vote for the Aug. 2, 2011 primary is July 5.

Sabra Briere’s Remarks

Briere said she was honored to be asked to speak, because she does not have a contested primary. And unless something happens between now and August, she won’t have a challenger in November, either.

There are good things about not having a challenger, but there are bad things as well, she cautioned. One of the bad things is that as a candidate you don’t get as many opportunities to express your views. You don’t get an opportunity to go out and meet people and have them happy to see you at the door – because really, all you are doing is interrupting them.

She’d listened to all the other candidates speak about how to set priorities for the budget. The council has wrangled with that, she said, since she’s served on the council. [Briere was first elected in 2007.] She said she didn’t think the council has a good prioritization system: We want everything; you want everything, she told the audience. The result is a little nibbling away at everything, she said – it’s never because we’ve all decided this is the direction we want to go in.

On the topic of agreements and disagreements, she said that councilmembers don’t all agree. But she said that Mike Anglin, in his remarks, was right in pointing out that 99% of the council votes are unanimous – those are the votes where there’s no controversy. When there is controversy, she said, there’s disagreement. It depends on councilmembers’ ability to reflect their constituents’ needs. Some will fall on one side and some on the other.

The good news is that councilmembers are all colleagues, she said. They collaborate when they need to. It’s that collaboration that allows the council to do its work, Briere concluded, and it’s the controversy that makes things interesting.

Ann Arbor Democratic Party Candidate Forum: Photos

Mike Henry Ann Arbor Democratic Party Co-Chair

Mike Henry, Ann Arbor Democratic Party co-chair, moderated the June 11 forum.

Anne Bannister Ann Arbor Democratic Party Co-Chair

Anne Bannister, Ann Arbor Democratic Party co-chair, handled some regular routine business at the start of the meeting.

Susan Baskett Democratic Party Forum

Susan Baskett was not swearing to keep time with the clock in her hand, but the Ann Arbor Public Schools board member was in fact recruited to handle timekeeping chores.

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