Montague First to File for County Board Race

Former Washtenaw County commissioner Christina Montague is the first and so far only person to file as a candidate for county commissioner in the 2012 election cycle – well ahead of the May 15, 2012 filing deadline for the Aug. 7 primary. An Ann Arbor Democrat, Montague plans to run in the new District 7, which covers an area on the east side of Ann Arbor that’s now represented by Democrat Barbara Bergman. Bergman is not seeking re-election. [.pdf of Montague affidavit] Andy LaBarre, also a Democrat, has also indicated his intent to run in District 7, but has not yet filed.

Democrat and current county commissioner Yousef Rabhi picked up nominating petitions earlier this week, and plans to run for re-election. Elected to his first term in 2010, Rabhi now represents District 11, but would be running next year for a seat in the new District 8.

County commissioners are elected to two-year terms, with the next election occurring in 2012. Starting with that election cycle, the current 11-member county board of commissioners will shrink to nine members, due to a redistricting plan adopted earlier this year. Three of the new districts – 7, 8 and 9 – will represent Ann Arbor. Currently, four of the board’s 11 districts represent Ann Arbor. [map of new county board districts] For additional background, see Chronicle coverage: “County Board Loses 2 Seats in Redistricting.”

Montague has been affected by redistricting in the past. She served for 12 years as county commissioner, but lost the seat when she was defeated by Bergman in a 2002 Democratic primary for a new district created after the previous redistricting process. Montague most recently ran against Bergman in the 2006 primary race that included Audrey Jackson, but was again defeated when Bergman retained the seat.

Montague spoke during public commentary at the April 28, 2011 meeting of the Washtenaw County apportionment commission, which oversees the redistricting process every 10 years. She talked about the importance of everyone in the community having a voice, and having their vote count. She told the commission that it’s important for minorities in this county to have the opportunity to be elected to public office, so that their voices aren’t just heard – they’re also able to make a contribution. Montague is African American.

For the county commissioner race, candidates have the option of filing nominating petitions with signatures from registered voters, or paying a $100 fee. That fee is refundable for candidates who come in first or second place in the primary. Montague paid the fee. Most candidates choose that option, according to deputy county clerk Matt Yankee.

In addition to the regular election cycle, the county board will be appointing a replacement for the seat vacated by commissioner Kristin Judge, who is resigning effective Oct. 9. The board must make an appointment within 30 days of her resignation, followed by a Feb. 28, 2012 primary (along with the presidential primary) and a May 2012 special general election for that seat. The winner of that election would serve a truncated term for the current District 7, through 2012.