Stories indexed with the term ‘Ann Arbor mayor’

Live: A2/Ypsi Chamber Mayoral Forum

Four Democratic candidates for Ann Arbor mayor – and three Ypsilanti mayoral candidates – will be answering questions at a forum today hosted by the A2Y Regional Chamber of Commerce. The event, held at the Ann Arbor Regent Hotel at 2455 Carpenter Road, begins at 4:30 p.m. The Chronicle will be providing a live audio broadcast. Update: The forum has concluded. Here’s a link to the full recording: [link]. Separate files for remarks and answers from individual candidates are included below.


A detail from cover art for the book “If Mayors Ruled the World: Dysfunctional Nations, Rising Cities” by Benjamin R. Barber. It was displayed on the shelves of Literati Bookstore in downtown Ann Arbor, where another mayoral candidate forum was held on June 25.

All four Ann Arbor mayoral candidates currently serve on the Ann Arbor city council: Sabra Briere (Ward 1), Sally Petersen (Ward 2), Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3) and Christopher Taylor (Ward 3).

The Ypsilanti mayoral candidates are Tyrone Bridges, Amanda Edmonds and Peter Murdock. Murdock currently serves on the Ypsilanti city council.

There are no Republicans running for mayor in either city for the Aug. 5, 2014 primary. In both cities, the incumbent mayors – John Hieftje of Ann Arbor and Paul Schreiber of Ypsilanti – are not seeking re-election.

The June 26 chamber event will include audience questions as well as an opportunity for candidates to talk about their vision for Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti. After the forum, a mixer will be held for chamber members and candidates for local, state and federal offices.

The Chronicle’s live audio broadcast is planned to start around 4:20 p.m. to allow for sorting through technical issues that might arise. [Full Story]

Ann Arbor Dems Mayoral Candidate Forum

For about 90 minutes on Saturday morning, the four Democratic candidates for Ann Arbor mayor answered questions on a wide range of topics at a mayoral forum hosted by the Ann Arbor Democratic Party.

Clockwise from upper left: Sabra Briere, Christopher Taylor, Sally Petersen, Stephen Kunselman.

Clockwise from upper left: Sabra Briere, Christopher Taylor, Stephen Kunselman and Sally Petersen.

The candidates all currently serve on city council: Sabra Briere (Ward 1), Sally Petersen (Ward 2), Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3) and Christopher Taylor (Ward 3).

Questions touched on affordable housing, downtown development, factions on city council, relationships with the University of Michigan and the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority, an assessment of Ann Arbor SPARK, non-motorized transit, commuter rail, and the role of the mayor.

Candidates were also asked to say something nice about each of their opponents – and they did. When Taylor answered the question by describing similar qualities that both Briere and Petersen shared, Briere responded by saying: “I’ve been lumped together!” Distinguishing themselves from the other candidates was a challenge they all faced. The sharpest contrast came when Kunselman said if elected mayor, he would ask Eli Cooper, the city’s transportation program manager, to step down from the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority board, calling the two roles a “conflict of commitment.” The other three candidates disagreed with Kunselman’s view on that.

Briere stressed her listening skills, problem-solving approach and independence, pointing to specific examples of her work on council. “It doesn’t bother me at all that we have factions, but I’m really resistant to joining one,” she said.

Petersen highlighted her experience in the private, nonprofit and public sectors, saying that this gives her a fresh perspective and skills as the city is on the cusp of growth. She pointed to her work toward developing an economic strategy for the city, and said she’d prioritize improving relations with the University of Michigan.

Kunselman told the audience he’d represent the working class, and stressed that he’s the only candidate with policies and politics that differ from the current mayor, John Hieftje, and from Hieftje’s supporters. “I’m offering you a choice of someone that is not in that camp,” he said.

Taylor, in contrast, thinks that the city is on the right track, though he’d work to improve basic services. He also repeatedly pointed to priorities for affordable housing, parks, and efforts to reduce the impact of climate change.

This report includes written summaries of the candidates’ responses, as well as audio clips from The Chronicle’s live broadcast of the event, which was held at the Ann Arbor Community Center. Several other forums are planned in the coming weeks, leading up to the Aug. 5 primary. There are no Republicans running for mayor this year. So far one independent candidate, Bryan Kelly, has taken out petitions. [Full Story]

Briere Running for Mayor of Ann Arbor

In a statement released around 2:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 10, 2014, Ward 1 city councilmember Sabra Briere has announced that she will run for mayor of Ann Arbor in 2014. [.pdf of Briere's press release]

Sabra Briere, Nov. 18, 2013 city council meeting

Sabra Briere at the Nov. 18, 2013 Ann Arbor city council meeting.

The field of mayoral candidates in Ann Arbor is somewhat wide open this year, because mayor John Hieftje announced on Oct. 11, 2013 that he would not be seeking re-election to an eighth two-year term in 2014. Ward 3 councilmembers Stephen Kunselman and Christopher Taylor have already pulled petitions to contest the Democratic primary.

Briere will continue her service on the council at least through 2015, regardless of the outcome of the mayoral election. If she prevails, she would remain a member of the council – because under Ann Arbor’s council-manager form of government, the mayor is also a councilmember. On that scenario, the council would need to appoint someone to fill the Ward 1 seat currently held by Briere.

If she does not prevail, then she would retain her Ward 1 seat, having won re-election to a two-year term in November 2013. That was a race she won against independent Jeff Hayner, who received 32% of the 1,747 ballots cast.

With Hieftje stepping down and Margie Teall’s intentions to seek re-election to represent Ward 4 not yet clear, in November 2014 Briere could become one of the two most-senior members of the council. Mike Anglin (Ward 5) and Briere were both first elected to the council in November 2007.

Briere was not opposed in the 2007 general election. She had prevailed in a three-way Democratic primary to fill the seat left vacant by Bob Johnson, who did not seek re-election that year. In the August 2007 primary, she polled 46% of the vote, compared to 34% for John Roberts and 19.5% for Richard Wickboldt. That race saw 920 votes cast.

Briere has served on the city planning commission as the council’s representative to that group for since November 2012.

The other declared candidates for mayor – Ward 3 councilmembers Kunselman and Taylor – announced their intent last year. Kunselman holds a masters of urban planning from the University of Michigan and works for the university as an energy conservation liaison. Taylor, a graduate of the University of Michigan law school, is an attorney with Hooper Hathaway. [Full Story]

Fifth & Huron

City clerk’s office. City clerk Jackie Beaudry shows me the card catalog of past mayoral veto messages. [photo 1] The most recent entry of April 23, 2001 predates the start of her service as city clerk by four years. That 2001 veto was tendered by John Hieftje. The reason given in his official message refers to a “technical issue” with the ordinance that was passed, citing support from the city attorney and city administrator. [photo 2] Occasion for the clerk to have the files handy: Hieftje’s recent announcement he’d be vetoing a change to the city’s crosswalk ordinance.

Ann Arbor Mayoral Race: Howard, Hieftje

In the Ann Arbor mayoral race, incumbent Democrat John Hieftje faces Albert Howard, who is running as an independent in the Nov. 6 general election.

John Hieftje, Albert Howard, Ann Arbor mayor, League of Women Voters of the Ann Arbor Area, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

From left: Incumbent Ann Arbor mayor John Hieftje and Albert Howard, who is running as an independent. (Photos by the writer.)

The two men answered questions at an Oct. 10 candidate forum moderated by the League of Women Voters of the Ann Arbor Area. Issues ranged from the city’s relationship with the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority – which Howard described as a “shadow government” that he would dissolve – to nonpartisan elections, current challenges and a long-term vision for the community.

Howard repeatedly criticized Hieftje for a lack of transparency and fiscal responsibility, and for not focusing on public safety issues. He supported moving to nonpartisan elections, and for a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) program for the University of Michigan.

Hieftje, who was first elected mayor in 2000, defended his view that the city is one of the safest and most robust in Michigan. He said that he personally has been “extremely approachable” and that the city government itself is open and accessible. He advocated for an expanded transit system, and a focus on quality-of-life issues.

The office of mayor has a two-year term. In Ann Arbor’s council-manager system, the mayor is the eleventh member of the city council, with limited responsibility beyond that of a city councilmember. The mayor enjoys a power of veto over council actions, which can be overridden with an eight-vote majority. The mayor also makes nominations for most city boards and commissions, which then require confirmation by the council. The mayor has certain powers during emergencies, and serves as the ceremonial head of the city. Day-to-day management of the city is the responsibility of the city administrator – currently Steve Powers – who is hired by the city council.

The Oct. 10 candidate forum was held at the studios of Community Television Network in Ann Arbor, and is available online via CTN’s video-on-demand service. The forum included candidates for Ward 5 Ann Arbor city council – Stuart Berry and Chuck Warpehoski. The Ward 5 portion of the forum is reported in a separate Chronicle write-up.

Information on local elections 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. [Full Story]

Ann Arbor Dems Primary: Mayoral Race


Candidates for mayor in the Aug. 3 Democratic primary: (top) incumbent John Hieftje and (bottom) Patricia Lesko. (Photos by the writer.)

On Thursday evening, the North Central Property Owners Association (NCPOA) hosted a forum for candidates in two Democratic primary races:  Ward 1 city council representative and mayor.

Coverage of Ward 1 candidate responses to audience questions is provided in a separate article: “Ann Arbor Dems Primary: Ward 1 Council.”

Before the forum began, as candidates worked the room – which would eventually be packed with around 60 people – they greeted their known supporters and detractors alike. Patricia Lesko was cheerily blunt with Ward 1 councilmember Sabra Briere, telling Briere:  “Hated what you had to say in The Observer about Lesko!” She was alluding to an article in The Ann Arbor Observer’s July edition, with the headline “Satan for Mayor?!

Briere was seated in the back row next to John Hilton, editor of The Ann Arbor Observer and a member of the NCPOA. The location of the forum at the Ann Arbor Community Center on North Main Street and its sponsorship by the NCPOA was significant – the site is across the street from Near North, a controversial affordable housing development approved by council in September 2009. The NCPOA had opposed the project most of the way through, but in the end wound up supporting a compromise version of the design.

Development and the definition of downtown was one of several topics raised by questions put to the candidates.

Incumbent mayor John Hieftje’s basic theme was that Ann Arbor was doing fine financially during tough economic times – especially when compared to other Michigan cities. For her part, Patricia Lesko questioned the ability of the city’s current leaders to make tough choices and described her own toughness with flourishes like: “You want a flower girl? Don’t vote for me!”

There is no Republican running for mayor – the winner of the Aug. 3 Democratic primary will not face a GOP challenger in November. Steve Bean and William Bostic Jr. plan to run as independents. [Full Story]

Leadership Conference at Huron High

Former Ann Arbor mayor Ingrid Sheldon, speaking to a leadership forum at Huron High School.

Former Ann Arbor mayor Ingrid Sheldon, speaking to a leadership forum at Huron High School.

Some facts that students learned about former Ann Arbor mayor Ingrid Sheldon on Saturday: 1) She spent the first part of her schooling, through 7th grade, in a one-room schoolhouse on Earhart Road, 2) she thinks a large part of the mayor’s job entails cheerleading for the city, 3) she doesn’t take herself too seriously. This last fact was demonstrated as she pulled items out of a large “gift box” she’d brought, full of things she said would be useful for students in leadership roles – including a pair of yellow pompoms. And yes, she gave a little cheer.

Sheldon was keynote speaker at a leadership conference held Saturday at Huron High School. The event was organized by the school’s Interact Club, a service organization for  teens that’s affiliated with Rotary International. (Sheldon is a member of Ann Arbor Rotary, which sponsors Huron’s Interact Club.) About 40 students attended from Huron, Pioneer High, and several other local schools. [Full Story]