Ann Arbor’s July 4th Parade of Candidates

Politicians, clowns, Derby Dimes, Skyline marching band – and more

It’s hard to know whether the candy-tossing, pamphlet-proffering politicians in this year’s Ann Arbor July 4th parade were as popular as the backwards clown brigade or the Ann Arbor Derby Dimes. But what politicians or political hopefuls lacked in entertainment value they made up for in volume: This year, 19 of the 84 entries in the Ann Arbor parade were political – candidates running for local, state or national office, current elected officials, and political parties.

color guard

The color guard starts off the Ann Arbor July 4th parade, passing by the Michigan Theater on East Liberty. The theater is offering free admission to U.S. veterans all week.

It was likely the last parade as an elected official for Janis Bobrin, the Washtenaw County water resources commissioner who has served for more than two decades but is not seeking re-election.

This year is unusual because two judicial races are being contested in the 22nd Circuit Court, and three of the six candidates had entries in the parade.

The July 4th parade is organized each year by the Ann Arbor Jaycees. As parades go, it’s a relatively low-key affair, but this year included a rarity for the Ann Arbor parade – a marching band, from Skyline High School. Miss Washtenaw made an appearance, as did baton twirlers, boy scouts, the Masons, and an assortment of other groups representing a wide swath of this community.

Many of those groups are included in the photo essay below. But the photographs also include candidates for office, whose willingness to stand for election is a testament to our representative democracy, which we celebrate each year on this date.

If you’re not yet registered to vote, here’s a reminder that the last day to register for the Tuesday, Aug. 7 primary is nearly here – July 9. Information on voter registration can be found on the Washtenaw County clerk’s elections division website. To see a sample ballot for your precinct, visit the Secretary of State’s website. The last day to register to vote for the Tuesday, Nov. 6 general election is Oct. 9.

Parade start

The Ann Arbor July 4th parade is organized by the Ann Arbor Jaycees.

Grand Marshal

The grand marshal for this year's Ann Arbor July 4th parade was Kim Barnes Arico, the new University of Michigan women’s basketball head coach, who rode with her daughter Emma.

Daniel Marcin

Democrat Daniel Marcin is challenging long-time U.S Rep. John Dingell for the District 12 congressional seat, which includes Ann Arbor. Dingell now represents District 15, but boundaries have been redrawn as a result of redistricting to create this new district. Dingell – the longest-serving current member of Congress – did not attend the Ann Arbor parade, but was represented by his wife, Debbie Dingell, and other supporters. The winner of the Democratic primary will face a Republican in November – either Karen Jacobsen or Cynthia Kallgren.

Jeff Irwin

Jeff Irwin, an Ann Arbor Democrat who's running for his second two-year term in the state House of Representatives for District 53, is facing challenger Thomas Partridge in the Aug. 7 primary. The winner of that race will be competing in November against Republican John Spisak, who is unopposed in the primary.

bicycle trailer

A Jeff Irwin supporter pulls his "float" on a bicycle trailer.

Adam Zemke

Last year, Adam Zemke drove the car for U.S. Rep. John Dingell's entry in the July 4th parade. This year, the Ann Arbor Democrat had his own entry – he's running for state representative in District 55. He'll face Ypsilanti Democrat Andrea Brown-Harrison in the primary, with the winner running against Republican Owen Diaz, the former mayor of Milan, in November. Diaz is unopposed in the Republican primary.

Supporters of Andrea Brown-Harrison

Supporters of Democrat Andrea Brown-Harrison, who's running for District 55 in the Michigan House of Representatives. She is facing Adam Zemke in the primary.

Rebekah Warren, Conan Smith

Rebekah Warren and Conan Smith drive to their staging spot before the start of the July 4th parade. Warren is state senator for District 18 but is not up for re-election until 2014. Smith, her husband, is chair of the Washtenaw County board of commissioners and is running unopposed in the Democratic primary to represent District 9 in Ann Arbor. He will face Republican John Floyd in November for a two-year term on the county board.

Rebekah Warren

State Sen. Rebekah Warren (D-District 18) does not need to contest and election this year – her four-year term ends in 2014.

Rob Steele

Republican Rob Steele, an Ann Arbor cardiologist who ran against Congressman John Dingell in 2010, is now campaigning for a position on the University of Michigan board of regents.


Carol Kuhnke is running for judge on the 22nd Circuit Court – along with three others in this non-partisan race: Erane Washington, Doug McClure and Jim Fink. The four candidates will compete in the Aug. 7 primary. The two who garner the most votes will move on to the Nov. 6 general election.

Erane Washington

Erane Washington is one of four judicial candidates for an open seat on the 22nd Circuit Court now held by judge Melinda Morris, who is ineligible for re-election because she is past the statutory age limit of 70. Washington and Carol Kuhnke had entries in the Ann Arbor July 4th parade, but the other two candidates – Doug McClure and Jim Fink – did not.

Tim Connors

Tim Connors, who has served as a 22nd Circuit Court judge since 1997, is running for another six-year term and faces challenger Mike Woodyard in the non-partisan November election. Woodyard did not participate in the Ann Arbor parade.

Christina Montague

Christina Montague, a Democrat and former chair of the Washtenaw County board of commissioners, is hoping to return to the county board for District 7. To do that, she'll need to beat Andy LaBarre in the Aug. 7 primary and Republican David Parker in November. The new Ann Arbor district, formed as a part of redistricting that takes effect with this election cycle, would have been the seat of incumbent Barbara Bergman, who is not seeking re-election.

Andy LaBarre

Andy LaBarre is running for District 7 on the Washtenaw County board of commissioners, facing Christina Montague in the Aug. 7 primary. The winner of that race will face Republican David Parker in November. Walking with LaBarre in the July 4th parade is his wife, Megan.

Yousef Rabhi

Yousef Rabhi rides his scooter with the Washtenaw County Democratic Party. For his re-election bid to the county board of commissioners, he is unopposed in the Democratic primary but faces Republican challenger Joe Baublis in November to represent District 8 in Ann Arbor.


Felicia Brabec is seeking re-election to her first full two-year term on the Washtenaw County board of commissioners. She was appointed to the board in October of 2011 and won a special election this May. The Pittsfield Township Democrat is unopposed in the primary but will face Republican Richard Conn in November.

Evan Pratt

Democrat Evan Pratt, an Ann Arbor resident who currently serves on the city's planning commission, is running for the position of Washtenaw County water resources commissioner. He's endorsed by Janis Bobrin, the current water resources commissioner who decided not to run for another term. Pratt faces Harry Bentz in the Aug. 7 primary, and the winner will run against Republican Eric Scheie in November.

Harry Bentz

Democrat Harry Bentz of Ann Arbor is vying for the job of Washtenaw County water resources commissioner. In the Democratic primary he'll be running against Evan Pratt, who also lives in Ann Arbor. The incumbent, Janis Bobrin, is not seeking-re-election. The winner of the Democratic primary will face Ann Arbor resident Eric Scheie, who is running unopposed in the Republican primary.

Janis Bobrin, Stephen Kunselman

Janis Bobrin, Washtenaw County water resources commissioner, talks with Ann Arbor city councilmember Stephen Kunselman. This will likely be the last parade for Bobrin, who has served for more than two decades. Bobrin, a Democrat, is not seeking re-election. As she traditionally does, this year she walked the parade with county prosecuting attorney Brian Mackie. Mackie is running unopposed in the Democratic primary and does not face a Republican challenger in the November general election. Kunselman is up for re-election in 2013, and walked the parade with the Ann Arbor Democrats.

Jerry Clayton

Jerry Clayton, Washtenaw County sheriff, is running for his second four-year term. He is unopposed in the Aug. 7 Democratic primary, but faces Republican Jeffrey Gallatin in the November general election.

Catherine McClary

Catherine McClary is seeking another four-year term as Washtenaw County treasurer. She is unopposed in the Democratic primary, but will face Republican Marlene Chockley in November.


Washtenaw County clerk Larry Kestenbaum, a Democrat, is unopposed in the August primary but will be challenged by Republican Stanley Watson in November.

Sumi Kailasapathy

Sumi Kailasapathy with some of her supporters before the start of the July 4th parade. Kailasapathy, a Democrat, is running against Eric Sturgis in the Aug. 7 primary for a Ward 1 seat currently held by Sandi Smith, who is not seeking re-election. No Republican is seeking that seat.

Eric Sturgis

Eric Sturgis, right, is seeking the Ward 1 Ann Arbor city council seat currently held by Sandi Smith. He is facing Sumi Kailasapathy in the Aug. 7 primary.

Sally Petersen

Sally Petersen, right, is making her first run for Ann Arbor city council, hoping to defeat incumbent Tony Derezinski in the Ward 2 Democratic primary. Unless an independent enters the race, the winner of the primary will be unopposed in November.

Tony Derezinski

Democrat Tony Derezinski, the incumbent Ward 2 Ann Arbor city councilmember, is seeking his third two-year term. He'll face challenger Sally Petersen in the Aug. 7 primary. There is no Republican running in Ward 2. His usual mode of transportation is a Harley, but he rode a different kind of bike for the parade.

Jack Eaton, Rita Mitchell

Democrat Jack Eaton is challenging incumbent Margie Teall in the Ward 4 city council race. No Republicans are running in that ward. To the right is one of Eaton's supporters, Rita Mitchell.


Democrat Mike Anglin, Ward 5 city councilmember, isn't up for re-election this year, but drove in the parade to support Jack Eaton and Sumi Kailasapathy. Eaton and Kailasapathy are running for council in wards 4 and 1, respectively.

Margie Teall

Margie Teall, the incumbent Ward 4 city council representative, is seeking re-election and faces Jack Eaton in the Aug. 7 Democratic primary. She did not originally have an entry in the parade, but mayor John Hieftje offered her the space that the Ann Arbor Jaycees had allotted him – as he was out of town for the parade.

Stuart Berry

Republican Stuart Berry is running for a Ward 5 city council seat, and in November will face the winner of the Democratic primary – either Vivienne Armentrout or Chuck Warpehoski.

Chuck Warpehoski

Chuck Warpehoski, a candidate for Ward 5 city council, is running against Vivienne Armentrout in the Democratic primary. They are seeking the seat held by fellow Democrat Carsten Hohnke, who is not running for re-election. Hohnke has endorsed Warpehoski in the primary.

Mike Henry

Mike Henry, co-chair of the Ann Arbor Democratic Party.


David Cahill, who's helping to organize the Democratic Party's effort to re-elect Barack Obama, walks with the Washtenaw County Democratic Party.

Miss Washtenaw

Erica Kennedy, Miss Washtenaw's Outstanding Teen. (This caption originally mis-identified Kennedy as Lauren Brown, who is Miss Washtenaw.)

Derby Dimes

A member of the Ann Arbor Derby Dimes.

Derby Dimes

More skaters with the Ann Arbor Derby Dimes.


Ann Arbor Ringette players on the street.

Ann Arbor chief of police John Seto

Ann Arbor chief of police John Seto.

Skyline High School Marching Band

Skyline High School marching band. What's a July 4th parade without a marching band? But in recent years, that's been a rarity for the Ann Arbor event. Thanks to Skyline musicians for stepping up this year!

Drum Major

Drum major with the Skyline High School marching band.

Skyline High School Marching Band

Members of the Skyline High School marching band.

Bob Dascola

Bob Dascola gets ready for the Backwards Clown Brigade.

Lady Liberty float

This Lady Liberty was an entry for the Ann Arbor Baptist Church – one of the few floats in the Ann Arbor July 4th parade.

Alan Haber, walking with the Gray Panthers of Washtenaw.

Members of the Redford Jaycees Lawn Mower Drill Corps execute choreography that was appreciated by the crowd.

The D3 Fife & Drum Corps marked the end of the 2012 Ann Arbor July 4th parade.

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  1. July 4, 2012 at 5:05 pm | permalink

    I love the picture of me with my mouth open carrying an Obama sign!

    Unfortunately, the caption is in error. I was walking with the Washtenaw County Democratic Party (behind a banner saying so), and not the Ann Arbor Democratic Party.

    Can you strike out “Ann Arbor” and insert “Washtenaw County”?

    I was delighted at the cheers and applause we Obama folks got from the audience. We had a variety of chants. My favorite – with a checkered history – was “four more years”.

  2. By Mary Morgan
    July 4, 2012 at 5:55 pm | permalink

    Re. “Can you strike out ‘Ann Arbor’ and insert ‘Washtenaw County’?”

    Done – with our apologies.

    And as an aside, we handle corrections in the main text by striking through the original text in red, and adding new text in blue. Our system doesn’t allow that kind of formatting in captions, however, so I’ll simply note the correction here.

  3. By Megan Scargyle Foldenauer
    July 4, 2012 at 9:13 pm | permalink

    Thank you for posting pictures of our roller derby league! We had a great time!

  4. July 4, 2012 at 9:34 pm | permalink

    I skipped the parade this year for the first time in a decade, because I got tired of too many politicians and not enough marching bands. Now I wish I’d gone and seen the Skyline band.

    Perhaps for next year the Chronicle should consider commissioning a march for the parade, like the Washington Post did in 1889.

  5. July 4, 2012 at 10:33 pm | permalink

    Nice pictures! I saw Mary in the crowd with her camera, but couldn’t get over to say hello, as I was sweating my arse off in the parade! Lots of fun, but super hot…thanks for being out there :)

  6. By Katie L.
    July 5, 2012 at 12:05 am | permalink

    I had the honor and privilege of walking next to Judge Connors in the parade in support of his re-election for Washtenaw County Circuit Judge. While I understand individuals’ concerns over the number of politicians participating in the parade, I can confidently assure readers that I was not walking next to a politician. I walked next to a man who was born and raised in Washtenaw County, a man who serves Washtenaw County, and someone who loves Washtenaw County. I’m not a fan of politicians–I just don’t trust them. I trust Judge Connors and believe Washtenaw County is a better place to live in because of him and what he does for the county. I’ve seen it with my own eyes and I am so thrilled to have an opportunity to support his cause. Happy 4th of July everyone! God bless. :)

  7. By Scratchigmyhead
    July 5, 2012 at 8:31 am | permalink

    I was dissappointed to see that Candidate Fink was not in attendance at this event especially since I am supporting candidacy for Judgeship. Fink, please do not take your candidacy for granted.

  8. July 5, 2012 at 8:35 am | permalink

    Thank you for the excellent pictures of all the political aspirants who were in the parade. Your report was in a sense a complement to the coverage by the “other” online publication, where we got more of the cute kids, the folks along the sides, and the other displays.

    I’m happy about the Skyline band. One of my complaints about the parade has always been the lack of bands. I spent my high school days marching in many parades, wearing a hot wool uniform in Oklahoma heat. (You haven’t lived until you’ve marched behind the horses in a rodeo parade. But maybe Sousa is worth it.)

  9. By Marvin Face
    July 5, 2012 at 1:45 pm | permalink

    Truth be told, this was the one (and only) time I enjoyed the dotcom story and photos better than the Chronicle. Call me sentimental, but parades are about kids, candy-throwing, fire trucks, bands, and flag-waving folks along the sides. Not: “Hey, lets go down to the parade and see the drain commissioner candidates!” Polititians = blech.

  10. By Mark Koroi
    July 5, 2012 at 5:36 pm | permalink

    @Marvin: Agreed. Judicial candidate Michael Woodyard, who is squaring off against Judge Timothy Connors this Novemeber, declined to attend this parade as he felt Fourth of July parades should honor veterans rather than political candidates.

    A growing number of judges and lawyers are appearing as endorsers on the woodyard4judge campaign website and believe that Mike Woodyard would make an excellent replacement for Judge Connors.

    @Scratchingmyhead: I support Jim Fink, who is an Ypsilanti resident; perhaps he was attending holiday festivities in that locale.

  11. July 5, 2012 at 7:36 pm | permalink

    Since Independence Day celebrates the birth of democracy here, it’s only fitting that politicians come out.

    Michael Woodyard is going to be crushed by Judge Connors. I expect Woodyard is running this time just to spread his name around. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course.

  12. By Kathy Griswold
    July 5, 2012 at 8:08 pm | permalink

    I spotted councilwoman Jane Lumm walking with the Big Brothers, Big Sisters. She was still having fun with the kids at the end of the parade route.

  13. By Sandy
    July 6, 2012 at 11:21 am | permalink

    I walked with Judge Connors this 4th of July. We passed out fruit snacks to the kids, took pictures, talked with the clowns, and honored the day. The reason I was there was to support Judge Connors because I feel he is a better candidate than Michael Woodyard, but at the end of the day we simply had a blast! I think that the kids liked receiving the snacks as much as we enjoyed handing them out.

    Independence Day is a day to celebrate our freedom as Americans. As an American, I am happy to have the freedom to vote for the candidate I believe best reflects my ideals. I was happy to see so many judicial candidates at the parade demonstrating that it is the citizen’s decision to determine who will be their judge.

  14. By Mark Koroi
    July 6, 2012 at 12:40 pm | permalink

    @David Cahill:

    “Mike Woodyard is going to be crushed by Judge Connors”

    You should disclose that you are on Timothy Connors’ re-election committee.

    Connors’ endorsement list is noteworthy for the local judges and county officials who have not endorsed him.

    Connors has never run in a contested election and his wife Margaret Connors was soundly defeated in the 2008 Ann Arbor District Court primary race.

    Jim Fink is a likely August primary winner.