Eaton, Kunselman Prevail in Primaries

Ann Arbor city council Democratic races: In Ward 3 Kunselman gets 51.8%, Grand 48.2%; in Ward 4 Eaton polls 64.6% to Higgins 35.3%

In Democratic primaries for Ann Arbor city council seats held on Tuesday, incumbent Stephen Kunselman polled 65 more votes than challenger Julie Grand, which translated into a 3.5-point margin.

Kunselman’s win was relatively narrow compared to the 29-point spread in the Ward 4 race between Jack Eaton and incumbent Marcia Higgins. That margin translated into 559 more votes for Eaton.


Results map. Ward 4 precincts won by Eaton are in blue shaded by strength of support. Precincts won by Higgins are in red. Ward 3 precincts won by Kunselman are in purple, shaded by strength of support. Precincts won by Grand are in green.

Totals and percents in Ward 3: Kunselman received 927 votes (51.8%) and Grand received 862 votes (48.2%).

Totals and percents in Ward 4: Eaton received 1,233 votes (64.6%) and Higgins received 674 votes (35.3%).

Complete unofficial results with various cuts of the data are available on the Washtenaw County clerk’s election results website.

Voter turnout was 9.24% in Ward 3 and 9.58% in Ward 4.

Of the city’s five wards, those were the only two primaries that were contested. No Republican candidates filed this year. The council consists of two representatives from each ward plus the mayor for a total of 11 members. Councilmembers serve two-year terms, so every year one of the seats is up for election. This is not a mayoral election year.

With Kunselman’s victory in the primary, it sets up the possibility of a Democratic primary race in 2014 between the sitting councilmember Kunselman and incumbent mayor John Hieftje. Kunselman has said that if Hieftje seeks an eighth term, he’d run against him.

But Kunselman will need to get past the Nov. 5 general election in Ward 3, when he’ll face independent Sam DeVarti. DeVarti is a UM student, and son of long-time Kunselman supporter Dave DeVarti – who’s a former councilmember and former Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board member. Add in the fact that Kunselman’s wife Letitia and the younger DeVarti are co-workers at the Northside Grill and it points to a campaign that’s more likely to be waged on respectful than on bitter terms.

Other races now basically set for the fall include possibly a three-way race between incumbent Ward 1 Democrat Sabra Briere and independents Jeff Hayner and Jaclyn Vresics. As of the end of the day on Aug. 6, the city clerk was still in the process of verifying signatures for Vresics in advance of the Aug. 7 deadline.

In Ward 2, incumbent independent Jane Lumm will face challenges from Democrat Kirk Westphal (who was unopposed in the Aug. 6 primary) and independent Conrad Brown. Of the city council races in the fall, the Ward 2 race is likely to draw the most interest citywide.

In Ward 4, Eaton will almost certainly not face a challenger on November’s ballot. In Ward 5, incumbent Democrat Mike Anglin will likely be the only choice presented to voters.

In this report we provide some additional detail on the Ward 3 and Ward 4 primary result maps.

Ward 3

Kunselman’s 65-vote margin in Ward 3 is comparable to the 58-vote spread between Carsten Hohnke and Vivienne Armentrout in the 2008 Ward 5 Democratic primary. That resulted in a recount, which confirmed Hohnke’s win.

Map showing Ward 3 results in the Aug. 6, 2013 Demcratic primary for Ann Arbor city council. Precincts won by Stephen Kunselman are in purple. Those won by Julie Grand are in green.

In Ward 3, Grand prevailed in two precincts. Grand’s 109-vote plurality in her own Burns Park neighborhood Precinct 3-3 provided some possibility that it would be a big enough buffer to prevail overall. There she had 313 (60.5%) votes to Kunselman’s 204 (39.5%). But the other precinct she won, Precinct 3-5, provided just 18 additional votes over Kunselman. In the 2008 primary, when Christopher Taylor prevailed against Kunselman, the Burns Park Precinct 3-3 – where Taylor and Grand live only a block apart – delivered an 80% Taylor spread (487-114).

Percentages in the Ward 3 map caption have been corrected from initial publication.

Ward 4

The first results to be reported out of Ward 4 came from Precincts 4-4 and 4-8 – just 10 minutes after the polls closed. Based on Eaton’s performance in the 2010 and 2012 primaries, which he contested unsuccessfully against Margie Teall, those combined precincts should have gone to Higgins, if she was to have any chance of winning. So from the 172-123 margin Eaton had there, it was already apparent that Eaton had won. The only question was by how much.

Now Eaton is likely to join Teall at the council table.

Ward 4 results map

In the one precinct where Higgins prevailed, Precinct 4-1, only four people voted. So the two-vote plurality she achieved there did not come close to offsetting the clear majorities Eaton won across the ward. Eaton’s decisive victories near his own neighborhood in Precincts 4-7 and 4-9 were somewhat expected. But he also edged out Higgins in the Lower Burns Park Precinct 4-3, where Higgins would have been expected to show some strength.

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  1. By Mark Koroi
    August 7, 2013 at 12:46 pm | permalink

    I agree with the characterization ofthe DeVarti/Kunselman race this fall. Sam DeVarti’s candidacy stems from his involvment in the Mixed-Use Party.

    Steve Kunselman and Dave DeVarti were together last night and I joked with them the fact that Dave’s son is challenging Steve for the seat. Steve has told me he welcomes the challlenge as he did when a Green Party nominee previously ran against him.

    The Mixed-Use Party candidate, Conrad Brown, in the Second Ward may be a real factor in that race since he could conceivably either:(A)draw independent voters from incumbent Jane Lumm, or(B)draw youthful voters away from Kirk Westphal, a young University of Michigan graduate who may appeal to students.

    Absolutely no one expected Jack Eaton to pull in almost 65% of the vote in the Fourth Ward. I saw predictions range from “toss-up” to 60% in Jack’s favor. Jack felt he would get about 60% of the vote. Few expected Higgins, a 14-year incumbent, to prevail although her 35% vote total was a sharp rebuke to the Mayor, Leah Gunn and other insiders who ardently supported her campaign.

  2. By George Hammond
    August 7, 2013 at 1:47 pm | permalink

    With less than 10% voter turnout, I don’t think these results tell us much about what the electorate as a whole thinks of, well, anything.

  3. By Letitia Kunselman
    August 7, 2013 at 3:16 pm | permalink

    Sam DeVarti is a student at Eastern Michigan University.