Hohnke Won’t Seek Another Term

Carsten Hohnke, a current Ward 5 Ann Arbor city councilmember, has announced his decision not to seek reelection to the council. Hohnke made his announcement in an email sent to constituents on Saturday morning, citing the desire to spend more time with his family, including his four-year-old son and infant daughter. There have been rumors for several weeks that Hohnke would not run again, even though he took out petitions from the city clerk’s office on Feb. 27.

Hohnke, a Democrat, was elected to his first two-year term on the Ann Arbor city council in November 2008. Other first-time councilmembers elected in 2008 included Sandi Smith (Ward 1), Tony Derezinski (Ward 2), and Christopher Taylor (Ward 3). Hohnke was unopposed in the November election, but won a close Democratic primary race that year against Vivienne Armentrout, which resulted in a recount that confirmed the outcome. Original vote totals were 1,552 for Armentrout 1,610 for Hohnke. In the November general election, Hohnke faced Republican John Floyd and won that race with 79% of the vote. 

In August 2010, Hohnke won the Democratic primary against challenger Lou Glorie, garnering 71.8% of votes. In the general 2010 election, he successfully defended his seat, winning 69% of the vote against Republican John Floyd (21.9%) and independent Newcombe Clark (9%).

Each ward in the city is represented by two councilmembers. Ward 5 is also represented by Mike Anglin, who will be up for reelection in 2013.

For the Aug. 7 primary, the filing deadline for city council candidates with party affiliations is May 15 at 4 p.m. For independent candidates in the Nov. 6 general election, the filing deadline is July 19 at 4 p.m. More information about the filing process is available on the city clerk’s elections website.

Added after initial publication: Shortly after noon on April 21, Chuck Warpehoski indicated via Twitter an interest in running for Hohnke’s open seat. Warpehoski is the director of the local non-profit, Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice. His wife, Nancy Shore, is director of the getDowntown program, which is funded jointly through the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority, the city of Ann Arbor, and the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority.


  1. April 21, 2012 at 2:00 pm | permalink

    The Chronicle has scooped AnnArbor.com again!

    How do Warpehoski’s political positions differ from Hohnke’s, or are they essentially political twins? Can you get Warpehoski to do an interview?

  2. By John Floyd
    April 24, 2012 at 7:03 pm | permalink

    I could have sworn I ran against Mr. Hohnke in the 2008 General Election. Perhaps it was all just a dream. Or maybe I just shouldn’t have campaigned in my Potted Plant costume.

    With a toddler and an infant (not to mention a wife) at home, the surprise is that Mr. Hohnke lasted this long. While I certainly have differences with him over issues and policy, and over what constitutes a healthy civic culture, I appreciate the personal sacrifices he has made to serve for four years, and wish him well in the future.

  3. April 24, 2012 at 7:56 pm | permalink

    Re: [2] Our apologies. The correction that’s owed has been made to the item and logged here: [link]

  4. By John Floyd
    April 25, 2012 at 1:29 am | permalink

    All is forgiven.

    Maybe I’ll exchange the Potted Plant costume for a Chopped Liver disguise. :-)

  5. By Stephen D. Reading
    April 27, 2012 at 12:54 pm | permalink

    Please explain to me how and why the Council and City Administration can perpetuate a budget that funds hundreds of thousands of dollars per year to support art as a priority when other expenses such as street /sidewalk repair, fire and police protection, etc. deserve to be funded first.

    It seems to me that Council and the Administration recognizes that most citizens do not participate in the business of government, and therefore it has become comfortable to abuse positions of leadership to promote and embrace spending policies that are not consistent with good judgment and fiscal responsibility.

    I would ask those of you who care enough about the integrity of their leadership positions to address and recognize the culture of malfeasance and neglect of the public trust that seems to have infected our city government. The silence of the voters and their neglect to vote should not be taken as a vote of confidence. It may be that the silent majority are just fed up and have come to accept the neglect.

    Please join me in reconsidering the current culture and consider efforts to promote improved integrity, good judgment and fiscal responsibility as you conduct your leadership activities.

  6. By Jack Eaton
    April 27, 2012 at 4:18 pm | permalink

    Mr. Reading,

    I believe there is broad support in Ann Arbor for public funding of art. If Council were not afraid to ask the voters for an arts millage, it would likely pass. This Council does not want to ask for an arts millage because that would raise the question, why not a safety millage?

    The real issue is not whether we fund art, it is how should we fund it? Currently, the City skims a little off each capital project budget, often diverting funds from restricted accounts such as our solid waste millage, road improvement millage or water funds. Using such restricted fund sources requires some posturing so the purchased art is arguably related to the funding source – such a a water fountain funded by our water fees.

    Additionally, arts funding sometimes comes from the sale of bonds used to finance a large project. Borrowing money for art makes the art that much more expensive. Over a 20 year pay-off of a capital project’s bonds, that $250,000 (maximum per project) can incur a fair amount of interest.

    The reality is that the limited amount of money going to public art is not the best example of misdirected priorities. We have spend more than a million dollars planning a parking structure and Amtrak station for Fuller Road, that would have been better used for public safety. The DDA contributes $500,000 each year to the cost of the police/courts building that could instead fund downtown police patrols. We have allowed our IT and law department budgets expand, while we cut other public services. We provide generous contributions for economic development efforts but don’t even demand audited budgets from the recipient agencies.

    If we used zero based budgeting, starting with our highest priorities, we could easily afford the services we value but that have been cut in recent years. Providing public safety services, solid waste services, adequate storm water systems and good roads simply lack the allure of expensive projects.

    If we were to pass a relatively small arts millage, we would not need to use contorted logic to justify spending on monuments, statutes and even festivals and performances. But we could only justify asking for that kind of millage if we exercised restraint and sensible priorities in the rest of our budget. I agree with you that is not likely with the current majority.

  7. By Carsten Hohnke
    April 27, 2012 at 6:05 pm | permalink

    Stephen, your point seems to be that you don’t agree with the Percent for Art Ordinance. I appreciate that—there are good arguments for why it may not be the best policy for achieving the ends we seek as a community.

    On the facts though, elimination of the Percent for Art Ordinance would not provide any relief for street repair or safety services. On the merits, the vast majority of the thousands of residents I’ve talked with on doorsteps or over email support public art funding. They believe that investment in public art enhances the quality of life and expands the tax base that supports street repair and safety services.

    As I noted above, folks have certainly raised some important points against the ordinance. For example, the structural limitations of the funding source constrain the type of art we can support. Additionally, the funding source can be reasonably viewed as insufficiently proximate to public art.

    But our disagreements about that policy do not imply general “abuse”, “malfeasance”, “[lack of] integrity”, or “neglect of the public trust” by Council Members. Those are rather serious, baseless accusations. Having made the decision not to seek another term, I fervently hope that good people with a variety of views will step forward and offer to serve. I fear that this contribution of yours to the conversation makes that less likely. In future disagreements, please consider dialing it down a notch and describing my positions as, for example, “bone-headed”, “ill-conceived”, or “ineffective do-goodery.”

  8. By Alan Goldsmith
    April 30, 2012 at 1:04 pm | permalink

    Mr. Hohnke– I think you and others on Council missed a great opportunity by not allowing the City Attorney to give a written opinion on the Percent for Art Ordinance. It made it appear you and others were afraid of the outcome and made you and others appear bone-headed and ineffective.

  9. By Rod Johnson
    April 30, 2012 at 3:24 pm | permalink

    In future disagreements, please consider dialing it down a notch and describing my positions as, for example, “bone-headed”, “ill-conceived”, or “ineffective do-goodery.”

    Is that what you meant to say? Because Alan appears to have taken you at your word.

  10. By Alan Goldsmith
    April 30, 2012 at 3:32 pm | permalink

    I did dial it down Rod. Thanks for noticing. Lol.

  11. By Dan Ezekiel
    April 30, 2012 at 8:56 pm | permalink

    As John Floyd stated in his comment, City Councilmembers make huge donations of their time, energy, and good humor to serve on this local governing body. As he implied, they also take a tremendous amount of abuse (which I guess is part of the package when you volunteer and campaign for this post).

    My father served a term on council in the ’80′s, and I remember my amazement when I took care of his house one weekend. The phone started ringing at breakfast time with various constituent concerns, some of which were definitely not within his power to change (“My neighbor is flying a Confederate flag”, “Kids on the way to school are cutting across my yard”, etc.)

    Local units of government are the places where democracy at the local level actually occurs. On the whole, the elected reps in Ann Arbor and the local townships represent us conscientiously and thoughtfully. Thank you to Carsten, Mike Anglin, the Mayor, and all the other councilmembers, and those who run for the office but aren’t elected, for keeping democracy alive.