Stories indexed with the term ‘Democratic primary’

Poll: Clear Favorite for Ann Arbor Mayor

From July 28-29, several Ann Arbor residents reported being polled by telephone about their preferences in the upcoming Democratic mayoral primary election. The Chronicle has obtained the results of that poll of 435 likely voters by Public Policy Polling (PPP), a North Carolina polling firm.

July 28-29, 2014 Survey of 435 likely Democratic primary voters by Public Policy Polling. <strong>Top Chart among all voters:</strong> Christopher Taylor (39%); Sabra Briere (19%); Stephen Kunselman (15%); Sally Petersen (13%); Undecided (15%).  <strong>Bottom Chart (if the election were conducted among those who disapproved of current mayor John Hieftje's performance)</strong>: Christopher Taylor (19%); Sabra Briere (19%); Stephen Kunselman (32%); Sally Petersen (20%); Undecided (9%).

July 28-29, 2014 survey of 435 likely Democratic primary voters by Public Policy Polling. Top Chart among all voters: Christopher Taylor (39%); Sabra Briere (19%); Stephen Kunselman (15%); Sally Petersen (13%); Undecided (15%). Bottom Chart (if the election were conducted among those who disapproved of current mayor John Hieftje’s performance): Christopher Taylor (19%); Sabra Briere (19%); Stephen Kunselman (32%); Sally Petersen (20%); Undecided (9%).

They show Ward 3 councilmember Christopher Taylor to be a clear favorite, with about a week to go before the Aug. 5, 2014 primary. Taylor polled at 39% compared to 19% for Ward 1 councilmember Sabra Briere.

Ward 3 councilmember Stephen Kunselman and Ward 2 councilmember Sally Petersen polled a few points behind Briere at 15% and 13% respectively.

The poll indicates that 15% of voters still haven’t made up their minds. Margin of error for the poll is plus or minus 4.7%.

The relatively large four-candidate field is attributable to the fact that no incumbent is in the race.

Kunselman was the first of the four candidates to declare his candidacy – before mayor John Hieftje announced last year he would not be seeking reelection to an eighth two-year term.

The PPP poll also asked respondents if they approved of the job that Hieftje was doing as mayor.

One of the patterns revealed in the analysis of the poll responses is that Kunselman would be a 12-point favorite if the election were held just among those voters who disapproved of Hieftje’s performance. But the poll indicated that only 27% of Ann Arbor voters disapproved of Hieftje’s performance.

A polling question that asked about favorable or unfavorable opinions of candidates – independently of an inclination to vote for them – showed Kunselman polling with the highest unfavorable opinion numbers, at 36%. But the “not sure” category for that question polled fairly high across all candidates, ranging from 29% to 43%.

The poll also included two questions about future growth – one about downtown development, and the other about the need for an improved train station. The poll indicated 46% support for the downtown projects that have been approved and built in recent years and 39% opposition. The need for a new train station polled at 52%, while the alternate view – that the current station is adequate – polled at 35%.

The content of the poll – which evinces some knowledge by its creator of the Ann Arbor political landscape – was not commissioned by The Chronicle or by any of the four mayoral campaigns. Tom Jensen grew up in Ann Arbor and is now director at Public Policy Polling, a firm based in Raleigh, North Carolina. But Jensen still follows Ann Arbor politics. It was Jensen who put the poll together – out of his own interest. And it was Jensen’s voice that was used in the interactive voice response (IVR) technology deployment of the Ann Arbor mayoral poll.

The poll drew as a sample all those who’d participated in any primary election (Democratic or Republican) since 2006. Poll respondents included 32% Republican or other non-Democratic affiliation.

In a telephone interview, Jensen stressed that any poll result should be viewed with a lot of caution, especially with local elections. “I would definitely, as a pollster, encourage people to take caution in over-interpreting one poll of a low-turnout race in the middle of the summer. You’re definitely prone to more error.”

But based on the results of this poll, he said he was 99% confident that Taylor was going to be the next mayor of Ann Arbor.

Additional charts and some additional background on the polling methodology are presented below. [Full Story]

2014 Calendar of Ann Arbor Mayoral Forums

Ann Arbor mayoral candidate Sally Petersen has included in her most recent campaign email a list of forums that will be taking place, leading up to the Aug. 5, 2014 Democratic primary vote.

Judge: Dascola on Ward 3 Ballot

Judge Lawrence Zatkoff has ruled in an election lawsuit filed by Bob Dascola against the city of Ann Arbor that the city cannot bar Dascola from the Ward 3 city council Democratic primary ballot based on city charter eligibility requirements that were ruled null and void in the early 1970s.

From the opinion: “Plaintiff has provided compelling evidence that Defendants have used void provisions of the Charter in an attempt to preclude him from running for City Council. Further, remedies available at law would not compensate Plaintiff for his inability to run for City Council. Finally, as established above, the balance of hardships between the parties – and the public interest at large – warrant this Court enjoining Defendants from enforcing … [Full Story]

Dascola Election Lawsuit: No Oral Arguments

In a notice to the parties in the Bob Dascola lawsuit, federal judge Lawrence Zatkoff has indicated that the two sides have agreed to have him rule on the case without hearing oral arguments. From the notice: “… the parties have indicated a desire to forgo a hearing and allow the Court to resolve the pending motions based on the arguments presented in the parties’ briefs. As such, no hearing will be held at this time.” [.pdf of notice on oral arguments]

Dascola is seeking to join Julie Grand and Samuel McMullen as a candidate on the ballot for the Aug. 5, 2014 Democratic primary – to represent Ward 3 on the Ann Arbor city council. The city has informed him that … [Full Story]

Amended Complaint: More Dascola Filings

More briefs have now been submitted in the Dascola election lawsuit late last week and over the weekend – after the final supplemental briefs were submitted earlier last week.

On May 6, 2014, the final court-ordered supplemental briefs were submitted by both sides in the lawsuit, filed by Bob Dascola against the city of Ann Arbor. Dascola contends he’s an eligible candidate and wants the court to order that he be placed on the ballot in the Ward 3 city council Democratic primary. He would join Julie Grand and Samuel McMullen in that election, which will be held on Aug. 5, 2014.

But as the electorate awaits a ruling from federal judge Lawrence Zatkoff, the two sides have continued to lather up. Late last … [Full Story]

Candidate Forum Focuses on Downtown

Speaking to about 30 people gathered at Sweetwaters in downtown Ann Arbor, three Democratic candidates for mayor answered downtown-centric questions at a May 1 forum that touched on issues of density and open space, the DDA, national chains and support for local businesses.

Christopher Taylor, Sabra Briere, Sally Petersen, Ann Arbor city council, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

From left: Democratic mayoral candidates Christopher Taylor, Sabra Briere and Sally Petersen at a May 1 forum. The event was held at Sweetwaters and moderated by the Main Street Area Association. (Photos by the writer.)

The mayoral candidate forum, held by the Main Street Area Association, featured Sabra Briere, Sally Petersen and Christopher Taylor. The fourth Democrat who’s vying for the seat, Stephen Kunselman, was unable to attend. All four candidates in the Aug. 5 primary election currently serve on the city council. There are no Republicans running this year.

In addition to their opening and closing statements, candidates responded to three questions posed by Tom Murray, president of the MSAA board and owner of Conor O’Neill’s, an Irish pub located on Main Street. Candidates were asked for their views on density and open space downtown, as well as their opinion of the DDA. The third question focused on the tension between support for local business and the growing interest from national chains in locating downtown.

All three candidates talked about the need for downtown development, with Briere and Taylor saying that density and open space aren’t mutually exclusive. Briere talked about the importance of walkability, and noted that urban parks provided “punctuation points” for the community. However, she said that for Ann Arbor’s relatively small downtown, it wasn’t logical to insist on a really large downtown park.

Petersen answered the question by focusing on the development aspect, including the need for large floor-plate office space, redevelopment of the North Main/Huron River corridor, and infrastructure like public transportation. She announced her support for the transit tax proposal that’s on the May 6 ballot. All other candidates had previously endorsed the proposal, which is being put forward by the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority. Mary Stasiak, AAATA’s manager of community relations, attended the May 1 forum.

The candidates all expressed unequivocal support for the DDA, with Taylor in particular lamenting the political culture that he says has “scapegoated” the DDA. That was likely a reference to criticism of the DDA by Kunselman, among others. Russ Collins, a DDA board member, attended the meeting in his capacity as executive director of the Michigan Theater to promote the upcoming Cinetopia International Film Festival.

And while praising the unique character of downtown Ann Arbor and the need to support local businesses, candidates noted that it’s not possible to prevent national chains from locating downtown. Taylor said he was excited that the downtown is attractive to businesses from outside this area, though he didn’t want to see national chains come in to the exclusion of locally-owned retailers. Briere described herself as a firm advocate for local businesses, saying that the downtown should focus on specialty items that can’t be found elsewhere. Petersen said she likes the whimsy of local businesses that inspire the phrase “Keep Ann Arbor Funky,” but noted that certain national retailers – like Apple – would be a perk to downtown.

There is no incumbent in this race. Mayor John Hieftje announced last year that he would not be seeking re-election. The deadline has passed for entry into the partisan primary on Aug. 5, but it’s still possible for an independent candidate to get on the Nov. 4 general election ballot.

For additional Chronicle coverage of the mayoral race, see: “Council, Mayor Primary Election Lineups Set” and “Town Hall: Four Mayoral Candidates.” [Full Story]

Additional Briefs Ordered in Dascola Case

Federal judge Lawrence Zatkoff has ordered that additional briefs be submitted in the lawsuit Bob Dascola has filed against the city of Ann Arbor. That means that Ann Arbor’s Ward 3 Democratic primary ballot won’t be set any sooner than May 6, when the additional briefs are due.

Dascola filed suit in order to be placed as a candidate on the ballot for Ann Arbor’s Ward 3 city council primary. He would join Democrats Julie Grand and Samuel McMullen in that race. Ann Arbor’s city charter includes two durational requirements for city councilmembers – that they be registered voters in the city for a year before election, and that they be residents of the ward they seek to represent for a year … [Full Story]

Ann Arbor Elections Update

The deadline for filing sufficient petition signatures to qualify for the Aug. 5, 2014 ballot in Ann Arbor city council and mayoral primary elections is April 22. So this is the last weekend to collect signatures. Council candidates must collect 100 signatures from voters registered in the ward they seek to represent. Mayoral candidates need 50 signatures from each of the city’s five wards.

The city’s offices closed today at noon for the holiday weekend.

Here’s a quick status report as of noon April 18 on who’s taken out petitions, who’s filed signatures, and whether they’ve been verified by the city clerk’s staff. All candidates who have taken out petitions and are eligible are Democrats.


  • Sabra Briere: petitions filed
  • Sally Petersen: petitions filed
  • Christopher Taylor: … [Full Story]

Town Hall: Four Mayoral Candidates

Four candidates for the Democratic mayoral primary in Ann Arbor will appear on Wednesday, April 16 in a town hall format at the University of Michigan’s Ford School of Public Policy to answer questions from students enrolled in Public Policy 456/756.

From top: Petersen, Briere, Kunselman, Taylor.

From top: Petersen, Briere, Kunselman, Taylor.

The class is taught by Ann Arbor mayor John Hieftje, who announced last year that he would not be seeking re-election.

Hieftje and the students organized the town hall format event, which is scheduled from 1:10-2:30 p.m. in the Ford School’s Annenberg Auditorium at 735 S. State St.

The event is open to the public. The town hall will be moderated by students in the class. Questions from the audience will be considered as time allows.

Confirmed to appear at the event will be Sabra Briere, Stephen Kunselman, Christopher Taylor and Sally Petersen. All are Democrats and are currently serving on the Ann Arbor city council.

As of the morning of April 16, only Kunselman had submitted the required signatures from registered voters in each of the city’s five wards to qualify for the ballot. Signatures must be submitted to the city clerk by April 22. Although no one other than these four councilmembers has announced an intent to contest the mayoral primary race, it’s still technically possible to take out petitions and collect signatures in time to qualify for the ballot.

The forum is being co-sponsored by UM’s Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP) and the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.

The Chronicle has made arrangements to provide CART (Communication Across Real Time) text streaming services for the event. If all technical challenges have been met, text will start streaming after the jump around 1:10 p.m. on April 16. [Full Story]

Election Update: Kaplan, Bryson Verified

Ann Arbor city clerk records at the end of the day on Friday, April 11 show that no additional candidates have taken out petitions to run for city council or for mayor.

That would leave anyone with an interest in contesting the partisan primaries on Aug. 5 with just one weekend and seven week days to gather enough signatures to qualify for the ballot. That’s if petitions were taken out on Monday, April 14. Signatures are due on April 22 – 100 for council candidates and 50 from each of the city’s five wards for mayor. If no one else takes out petitions and submits signatures, races in Ward 1 and Ward 4 would be uncontested.

The only action in the races for … [Full Story]

Clerk: Dascola Not Eligible for Ward 3 Council

Updated March 14, 2014: According to local attorney Tom Wieder, who is representing Dascola in the matter, court cases dating from the early 1970s struck down a section of the city charter cited by the city clerk in determining Dascola was ineligible. More details are appended at the end of this news brief. A longer treatment can be found here: “Dascola to Assert Right to Run in Ward 3

Although he previously announced his intention to compete in the Ward 3 Democratic primary election to be held on Aug. 5, 2014, Bob Dascola is not eligible to compete in this year’s race, according to the Ann Arbor city clerk’s office. Dascola is owner of Dascola Barbers on State Street.

Dascola … [Full Story]

Dems Forum Part 1: Conceptual Ann Arbor

Editor’s note: A forum hosted by the Ann Arbor Democratic Party on Saturday, June 8, 2013 drew six of seven total city council candidates who’ve qualified for the primary ballot.

From left: Julie Grand (Ward 3 challenger), Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3 incumbent), Jack Eaton (Ward 3 challenger), Mike Anglin (Ward 5 incumbent), Kirk Westphal (Ward 2 challenger), Sabra Briere (Ward 1 incumbent).

From left: Julie Grand (Ward 3 challenger), Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3 incumbent), Jack Eaton (Ward 4 challenger), Mike Anglin (Ward 5 incumbent), Kirk Westphal (Ward 2 candidate), Sabra Briere (Ward 1 incumbent).

In the Aug. 6 Democratic primary, only two wards offer contested races. In Ward 3, Democratic voters will choose between incumbent Stephen Kunselman and Julie Grand. Ward 4 voters will have a choice between incumbent Marcia Higgins and Jack Eaton. Higgins was reported to have been sick and was unable to attend.

The format of the event eventually allowed other candidates who are unopposed in the Democratic primary to participate: Mike Anglin (Ward 5 incumbent), Sabra Briere (Ward 1 incumbent), and Kirk Westphal, who’s challenging incumbent Jane Lumm in Ward 2. Lumm, who was elected to the council as an independent, was in the audience at the forum but didn’t participate. The event was held at the Ann Arbor Community Center on North Main Street. The Chronicle’s coverage is presented in a multiple-part series, based on common threads that formed directly in response to questions posed to the candidates, or that cut across multiple responses.

In their introductory remarks and in the course of responding to other questions, some of the candidates described their concept of and connection to Ann Arbor – how they came to live here, and how they conceive of the place. Other themes from the forum will be presented in subsequent parts of this series. Other Chronicle coverage is tagged with “2013 primary election.” [Full Story]

Candidates Take Action in City Council Races

A challenger to Ward 1 incumbent Ann Arbor city councilmember Sabra Briere has pulled petitions for the Nov. 5 general election, according to the city clerk’s office. Jaclyn Vresics, who’ll be running as an independent, pulled petitions on April 30 for the Ward 1 race.

Vresics is a University of Michigan student who is affiliated with the Mixed Use Party. The Mixed Use Party stresses land-use and zoning as key to environmental preservation and legal equality. The website for the party indicates the desire to “create a new zoning code, abolish tax increment financing, legalize victimless crimes, and look for other ways to improve the city.”

So far Vresics is the only potential challenger to Briere, who pulled petitions in February but has not … [Full Story]

Eaton Pulls Petitions for Ward 4 City Council

Jack Eaton has taken out petitions to contest the 2013 Democratic primary election in Ward 4 for the Ann Arbor city council. City clerk records show that he took out the petitions on April 17. Eaton is a labor attorney. Over the last several years, he’s been actively involved in advocating for neighborhoods.

Jack Eaton talked to Ward 2 councilmember Jane Lumm before the councils April 15, 2013  meeting started.

Jack Eaton talked to Ward 2 councilmember Jane Lumm before the council’s April 15, 2013 meeting started.

Ward 4 incumbent Marcia Higgins, who’s served on the council for over a decade, took out petitions on Dec. 31, 2012.

Higgins and Eaton will need to file their petitions with at least 100 valid signatures by the May 14 deadline.

Eaton has contested the Democratic primary election twice in recent years, both times against incumbent Margie Teall. In the August 2012 Democratic primary, the race was close enough to require a recount, as Eaton and Teall received 846 and 866 votes, respectively. That was the total after a recount of the ballots. The 2010 primary race was not as close, when Eaton polled 642 (30.63%) to Teall’s 1,448 (69.08%). [Full Story]

Westphal Pulls Petitions for Ward 2 Council

Kirk Westphal has pulled petitions to run in the Aug. 6, 2013 Democratic primary for a seat representing Ward 2 on the Ann Arbor city council. According to Westphal, he took out the petitions on the afternoon of March 21.

Kirk Westphal at the March 4, 2013 meeting of the Ann Arbor city council

Kirk Westphal was in the audience at the March 4, 2013 meeting of the Ann Arbor city council, when the council considered a moratorium on site plans for areas of the downtown zoned D1. He serves as chair of the city planning commission.

If he files the petitions with at least 100 valid signatures by the May 14 deadline, he’ll be competing for the seat currently held by independent Jane Lumm. Lumm was elected most recently in November 2011, winning the general election against Stephen Rapundalo, who ran as a Democrat. Lumm, who served for a period on the council in the mid 1990s as a Republican, is expected to run again this year.

In a telephone interview with The Chronicle, Westphal stated: “I consider myself strongly pro-environment, pro-transit, pro-alternative energy, and a strong Democrat. I hope to represent my ward in that capacity.” Responding to a standard question, he said he’s running “because I sense we’re on the cusp of some unique opportunities and challenges. I’m hopeful my vision of the future resonates with the ward.”

Westphal is currently chair of the city’s planning commission. He was first appointed on Oct. 3, 2006, replacing James D’Amour. The city council confirmed Westphal’s reappointment to the planning commission on July 2, 2012 for another three-year term on the commission, ending July 1, 2015. Westphal also serves on the city’s environmental commission.

Westphal is married with two children, ages 5 and 7, and lives in the Glacier neighborhood of Ward 2. Chronicle readers might be familiar with that part of town through The Chronicle’s coverage of last year’s Memorial Day parade. [Full Story]

Grand Pulls Petitions for Ward 3 Council

Julie Grand, chair of the Ann Arbor park advisory commission, pulled petitions this week to run in the Aug. 6, 2013 Democratic primary for a seat representing Ward 3 on the Ann Arbor city council. If she files the petitions with at least 100 valid signatures by the May 14 deadline, she’ll be competing for the seat with incumbent Stephen Kunselman, a two-term councilmember.

Julie Grand, Ann Arbor park advisory commission, Ann Arbor city council, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Julie Grand at the Oct. 16, 2012 meeting of the Ann Arbor park advisory commission. She pulled petitions on March 11, 2013 for the Ward 3 Ann Arbor city council Democratic primary.

Kunselman pulled petitions on Nov. 3, 2012 – the Saturday before last year’s Nov. 6 general election. He filed 109 valid signatures on March 8, 2013. Those signatures were verified as valid by the city clerk’s office on March 11 – the same day that Grand pulled her petitions for that race.

In a phone interview with The Chronicle in February 2013, Grand said several factors were influencing her decision. She’ll be term-limited on PAC after her current term ends in October, but wanted to remain involved with the city. [Her appointment on PAC runs through Oct. 18, 2013.] She has served on various committees and task forces over the years, primarily as a representative of PAC. Those include the Main Street/Huron River corridor task force, the golf courses advisory task force, and the senior center task force.

The timing was also good for more personal reasons. Her husband, David Grand, has now had time to transition to his job as U.S. Magistrate Judge for the Eastern District Court in Ann Arbor. [He was appointed to that position in November of 2011.] And starting this fall, both of their children will be in school full-time, she said. Grand says she enjoys teaching – she’s a lecturer in health policy studies at the University of Michigan-Dearborn – but doesn’t want a full-time academic job. [Full Story]

Ward 4 City Council: Eaton Files for Recount

Candidate Jack Eaton has filed for a recount of ballots cast in the Aug. 7, 2012 Democratic primary election for Ward 4 Ann Arbor city council.

According to Washtenaw County director of elections Ed Golembiewski, the recounting of the physical ballots will likely be scheduled for early in the week beginning Aug. 27, depending on the availability of members on the board of canvassers. That would accommodate the 7-day requirement to allow other candidates involved to file objections.

The other candidate involved was incumbent Margie Teall. The final results across the nine precincts of Ward 4 showed Eaton with a total of 848 (49.5%) votes, compared to 866 (50.5%) for Teall. That’s a difference of just 18 votes.

A recount costs the candidate … [Full Story]

Who’ll Be Next Water Resources Commissioner?

Next year, for the first time in more than two decades, someone other than Democrat Janis Bobrin will be Washtenaw County’s water resources commissioner. Harry Bentz and Evan Pratt are competing in the Aug. 7 primary to be the Democratic candidate for that position, with the winner facing Republican Eric Scheie in the Nov. 6 general election.

Harry Bentz, Evan Pratt

From left: Democrats Harry Bentz and Evan Pratt are running for the position of Washtenaw County water resources commissioner. (Photos by the writer.)

Scheie is not challenged in the primary, so it was only Bentz and Pratt who attended a July 9 candidate forum moderated by the League of Women Voters of the Ann Arbor Area. Questions asked during the 30-minute event covered issues directly related to the position, or dealt more broadly with water and environmental quality issues, such as fracking and the Pall/Gelman groundwater contamination. Other topics included regional collaboration, financing for drain projects, and the Allen Creek greenway in Ann Arbor.

Pratt emphasized his experience as a civil and environmental engineer, including work on local water resources projects. He also stressed the fact that he is endorsed by Bobrin. He noted his involvement with groups like the Huron River Watershed Council and the Ann Arbor planning commission. He stressed his financial experience – in managing projects and as treasurer for various professional groups.

Bentz stressed the importance of ordinary citizens getting involved in local government, and described the job of water resources commissioner as an administrative position. He put himself forward as an alternative to the “political machine” that he says had taken over local government. Bentz noted that he’s a lifelong resident of Washtenaw County, and could provide new blood in the political process.

Both Bentz and Pratt are Ann Arbor residents, as is the Republican candidate, Eric Scheie.

With offices on Zeeb Road in Scio Township, the office of the county water resources commissioner – formerly called the drain commissioner – is responsible for stormwater management, flood control, drainage systems and a wide range of other issues related to water quality throughout Washtenaw County. Recent projects include the Malletts Creek restoration, the RiverSafe public education program, and the Traver Creek stabilization project for a section that runs through the Leslie Park Golf Course.

The July 9 candidate forum was held at the studios of Community Television Network, and is available online via CTN’s video-on-demand service. Candidates gave opening and closing statements, and answered nine questions. The format was not designed for interaction between candidates, but each candidate was given an optional one-minute rebuttal to use once during the forum.

The deadline to register to vote in the Aug. 7 primary has passed. Oct. 9 is the last day to register to vote for the Tuesday, Nov. 6 general election. 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 League of Women Voters also has an online voter information site – – which includes biographical information on some candidates, stances on issues, and a “build my ballot” feature. [Full Story]

District 7 Dems Vie for Washtenaw Board

Two Democrats – Andy LaBarre and Christina Montague – are running for a seat on the Washtenaw County board of commissioners to represent the new District 7, covering eastern Ann Arbor. They answered questions at a July 9 candidate forum, reflecting similar views on regional transportation, support for Detroit and the Detroit Institute of Arts, opposition to fracking, and concern for the county’s social safety net.

Andy LaBarre, Christina Montague

Democrats Andy LaBarre and Christina Montague are competing in the Aug. 7 primary for the District 7 seat on the Washtenaw County board of commissioners.

County commissioners are elected to two-year terms. District 7 will be one of nine districts as of 2013 – the first year for new districts formed during the 2011 redistricting process. Three of those districts – 7, 8 and 9 – cover Ann Arbor. [Currently there are 11 districts, including four representing Ann Arbor. (.jpg map of new county board districts)] The new District 7 includes an area that’s now represented by Democrat Barbara Bergman, who is not seeking re-election.

Montague is a former Washtenaw County commissioner, who was chair of the board for a portion of her 12-year tenure. She 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 by Bergman.

LaBarre is vice president of government relations and administration at the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Regional Chamber of Commerce, a position he’s held since April 2011. Before that he served for six years on the staff of Congressman John Dingell.

The winner of the District 7 Democratic primary on Aug. 7 will face Republican David Parker in November. Parker is unopposed in the primary.

Moderated by the League of Women Voters of the Ann Arbor Area, the 30-minute July 9 candidate forum was held at the studios of Community Television Network, and is available online via CTN’s video-on-demand service. Candidates gave opening and closing statements, and answered seven questions. The format was not designed for interaction between candidates, but each candidate was given an optional one-minute rebuttal to use once during the forum.

The deadline to register to vote in the Aug. 7 primary has passed. Oct. 9 is the last day to register to vote for the Tuesday, Nov. 6 general election. 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 League of Women Voters also has an online voter information site – – which includes biographical information on candidates, stances on issues, and a “build my ballot” feature. [Full Story]

State Legislative Candidates Share Views

Three Democratic candidates for the Michigan House of Representatives fielded questions on Monday evening that covered a mix of topics – from education and public transit to term limits, failing infrastructure, environmental quality and retirement benefits for public employees.

Tom Partridge, Jeff Irwin, Adam Zemke

From left: Democrats Thomas Partridge, Jeff Irwin, and Adam Zemke. Partridge is challenging Irwin, the incumbent, in the Democratic primary for District 53 in the Michigan House of Representatives, covering most of Ann Arbor. Zemke is running against Andrea Brown-Harrison for the new District 55, which includes the northern portion of Ann Arbor and several other communities in Washtenaw County. Brown-Harrison did not attend the July 9 candidate forum. (Photos by the writer.)

In District 53, covering most of Ann Arbor, incumbent Jeff Irwin faces Thomas Partridge in the Aug. 7 primary. Irwin, a former Washtenaw County commissioner, was first elected to the House in 2010 and is seeking a second two-year term. Partridge, a frequent speaker during public commentary at various local government meetings, most recently ran an unsuccessful campaign for state Senate (District 18) in 2010. Both candidates are residents of Ann Arbor. In the Nov. 6 general election, the winner of the Democratic primary will compete against Republican John Spisak, who is unopposed in the Republican primary.

In the new District 55 – created during the state’s reapportionment process after the 2010 Census – Democrats Adam Zemke of Ann Arbor and Andrea Brown-Harrison of Ypsilanti are competing in the Aug. 7 primary. The winner will face Republican Owen Diaz, the former mayor of Milan, in November. Diaz is unopposed in the Republican primary. The district covers parts of northern Ann Arbor, the townships of Ann Arbor, Augusta, Pittsfield and York, and a northern part of the city of Milan.

Brown-Harrison did not attend the July 9 candidate forum, which was moderated by the League of Women Voters of the Ann Arbor Area. League member Judy Mich reported that Brown-Harrison did not respond to repeated requests made by phone, email and regular mail to attend the forum. Zemke answered the same set of questions that were posed to Irwin and Partridge.

The forum was held at the studios of Community Television Network, and will be available online via CTN’s video-on-demand service. The format included opening statements, seven questions, and closing statements. Though the format did not promote interaction between candidates, each candidate was given an optional one-minute rebuttal to use once during the forum.

League moderators noted that July 9 was the last day to register for the Tuesday, Aug. 7 primary. The last day to register to vote for the Tuesday, Nov. 6 general election is Oct. 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. [Full Story]

Initial Indicator: Incumbents Likely to Win

Based just on totals from absent voter count boards, it looks likely that incumbents in three Ann Arbor city wards will win the Democratic Party’s nomination for city council representative, and to appear on the ballot in November.

In Ward 2, Stephen Rapundalo received 232 absentee votes (60%) compared with Tim Hull’s 155. In Ward 3, Stephen Kunselman received 159 absentee votes (56%) compared to 120 and 7 for Ingrid Ault and Marwan Issa, respectively. And in Ward 5, Mike Anglin received 298 absentee votes (72%), compared with Neal Elyakin’s 117.

Absent voter count board totals reflect absentee voting totals across all precincts in the ward. Those totals are thus not as susceptible to reflecting an advantage a candidate might enjoy that … [Full Story]

Ward 5 Initial Result

In the city council Democratic primary race for Ward 5, initial combined results from precincts 5-4 and 5-5 show incumbent Mike Anglin with 163 votes, compared to 91 for challenger Neal Elaykin.

Stuart Berry received 2 votes – he was the only choice on the Republican side of the ballot.

More Local Candidates Enter State Races

With about two months remaining until the filing deadline to get on the Aug. 3 primary ballot, more local candidates for state legislature are entering the race, vying for seats that are opening in several districts representing Washtenaw County.

David Rutledge – a Washtenaw Community College trustee and a county road commissioner – is joining a crowded field of Democrats in the 54th District state House primary. That seat, representing eastern Washtenaw County, is now held by veteran lawmaker Alma Wheeler Smith, a Democrat running for governor. For the Republican primary in the 54th, Rodney Nanney of Ypsilanti, who has previously campaigned for other candidates, is making his first bid for office.

On the county’s west side, only one Democratic candidate in the 52nd District – Scio Township trustee Christine Green – is firmly in the race, while Republican Mark Ouimet, a current county commissioner, is raising a sizable war chest for his primary campaign in that district. The seat is now held by Democrat Pam Byrnes, who is running for state Senate.

Districts that may be up for grabs are particularly important this election cycle: Following the completion of the 2010 U.S. Census, the legislature will redraw state legislative and congressional districts. Although that every-10-years exercise is meant to account for population changes, it typically creates political advantage and disadvantage. The most recent redistricting, for example, led to the creation of a congressional district map that in 2002 put former U.S. Rep. Lynn Rivers (D-Ann Arbor) is the same district as fellow Democrat U.S. Rep. John Dingell, ensuring that one of the Michigan Democrats would be knocked out of Congress.

Though providing updates on all districts, this report focuses on the 52nd and 54th District House races, where the fields of candidates have recently expanded or contracted. We’ll introduce candidates entering the contests – as well as some notable politicians who’ve decided not to run – and report on how candidates are faring in their fundraising efforts. Future reports will focus on candidates’ backgrounds and issues, in addition to looking at any new local candidates in the House and Senate races. [Full Story]

State Races in Districts 54, 55 Take Shape

Editor’s note: The Chronicle previously published an article on state legislative races in the 52nd and 53rd House Districts and the 18th Senate District. An update on those races appears at the end of today’s article.

Candidates for Michigan’s House of Representatives still have eight months to file for the 2010 election. But with money to raise and campaigns to organize, most potential candidates for the state’s 54th District say they expect to make decisions about entering the race by the end of this year.

At least four Democrats from the eastern Washtenaw County district are considering running for the seat now held by state Rep. Alma Wheeler Smith, who’s ineligible to run after being elected to three terms. (Smith is campaigning to be the Democratic candidate for governor.) Allen Francois, Mike Martin, David Rutledge and Lonnie Scott are all potential candidates in the overwhelmingly Democratic district, which includes the city of Ypsilanti, and Augusta, Salem, Superior and Ypsilanti townships. [Link to 54th District map.]

The field in the nearby 55th House District so far appears to be smaller. Republican Joe Zurawski of Washtenaw County is a candidate for the seat held by three-term state Rep. Kathy Angerer, a Democrat who is ineligible to run again. On the Democratic side, Monroe County resident Michael J. Smith says it’s very likely he will run. [Full Story]

State Legislative Candidates Lining Up

Rebekah Warren

Rebekah Warren, current state representative from Ann Arbor, plans to officially announce her candidacy for Liz Brater's state senate seat on Sept. 19.

The year was 1992. Hecklers in Hamtramck threw broccoli at George H.W. Bush. Ross Perot got almost 19% of the presidential vote. And Michigan voters enacted term limits.

Fast forward to the present: Perot and Bush 41’s broccoli problem are largely forgotten, but term limits now shape elections for state office. Except in districts evenly enough divided between Democrats or Republicans that they might swing either way, it’s rare for an incumbent to face a serious challenge. Instead, political hopefuls wait for term limits to open the right slot.

That’s happening this election cycle with districts representing the Ann Arbor area. And jockeying is under way.

Next weekend, state Rep. Rebekah Warren (D-53rd District) will launch a campaign to succeed fellow Ann Arbor Democrat Liz Brater (D-18th District) in the Michigan Senate. A former state rep and former Ann Arbor mayor, Brater is term-limited and ineligible to run again for that seat.

Warren’s move will, in turn, trigger announcements from the Democrats who’ve politely waited for the two-term lawmaker to make her plans public before lining up to try and take her spot in the state House of Representatives. [Full Story]

Recount Confirms: Kunselman Wins

Greden Kunselman recount Ward 3 city of Ann Arbor city council election

Matt Yankee, deputy clerk with Washtenaw County, marks ticks in columns as candidate names are read aloud during the recount of the Aug. 4 Democratic primary election for the Ward 3 city council seat. (Photo by the writer.)

Friday morning in the lower level of the county building at 200 N. Main, Letitia Kunselman held her cell phone out in the general direction of Melodie Gable, chair of Washtenaw County’s board of canvassers. Gable was wrapping up about 90 minutes of ballot recounting from the Ward 3 Democratic primary for Ann Arbor city council. By that time, her official announcement stated an outcome that everyone in the room already knew.

We’d followed the hand recount of paper ballots table-by-table, as one precinct after the other confirmed individual vote totals from the initial Aug. 4 results.

What Gable reported was exactly the news that Letitia Kunselman’s husband Stephen – on the other end of the cell phone line – wanted to hear: his own 511 votes compared to Leigh Greden’s 505 had been confirmed, leaving Kunselman the winner of the primary. The third candidate, LuAnne Bullington, picked up one vote in the recount in precincts 3-4 and 3-7 (these precincts shared a single polling location on election day), bringing her total to 382.

We include in our report the vote totals, some anecdotal bits from the morning recount, but more importantly, a brief look at the impact that Greden’s departure will have on council’s committee composition. [Full Story]

Talk with Rosencrans: Dams, Movies, Jobs


To address excessive creaking, a recommendation from Rosencrans (a carpenter) was to level up the totter's base – a suggestion already implemented. (Photo by the writer.)

[Editor's Note: HD, a.k.a. Dave Askins, editor of The Ann Arbor Chronicle, is also publisher of an online series of interviews on a teeter totter. Introductions to new Teeter Talks appear on The Chronicle.]

In recent coverage of the Park Advisory Commission, The Ann Arbor Chronicle reported that Scott Rosencrans had just been elected chair by his colleagues on that body.

So despite the fact that he did not prevail in the recent city council Democratic primary election in Ward 5, Rosencrans will continue to serve the Ann Arbor community – by chairing  PAC. Among the topics we discussed on the totter was Argo Dam, which was a campaign issue that might have affected how Ward 5 residents voted. Incumbent Mike Anglin was against removing the dam, while Rosencrans supported its removal if the rowing community could be accommodated. Rowers make heavy use of Argo Pond. [See additional Chronicle dam coverage.]

Back in 2004, the  Michigan Department of Environmental Quality alerted the city of Ann Arbor to problems related to the earthen berm to the east of the dam. That berm separates the mill race – used by canoists to reach a portage around the dam – from the river. A task force and study lasting at least two years culminated in a months-long community dialogue on the future of the dam earlier this year. The city council has made no decision on a dam-in or dam-out solution.

The city recently sent a letter to the MDEQ asking for another extension in the deadline for a decision on how to address problems with the dam’s toe drains. And Byron Lane, chief of the dam safety program with the MDEQ, has sent a response. [Full Story]

A Day at the Polls

Today is election day in Ann Arbor. But that only matters if you’re voting in the Democratic primary election for city council – there are no Republican primary candidates. And even if you’re inclined to vote in the Democratic primary, it only matters if you live in Ward 3 or Ward 5, where the elections are contested.

In Ward 5, the two candidates are Mike Anglin and Scott Rosencrans. In Ward 3, there’s a three-way race between Leigh Greden, LuAnne Bullington, and Stephen Kunselman.

The two wards combined comprise 20 precincts. In the 13 hours between 7 a.m. when the polls open and 8 p.m. when they close, The Chronicle aims to visit the polling locations for all 20 precincts. We’re pretty sure that we’ll run into some Chronicle readers along the way – we figure the sort of people who’ll read 5,000 words about a city council meeting will also find their way to the poll on election day.

See you soon.

And track our progress after the break. [Full Story]