For one hour on Friday evening at Dicken Elementary School, candidates for the Ward 4 city council seat – Marcia Higgins and Hatim Elhady – answered questions read aloud by Ann Arbor resident Jack Eaton. Higgins is seeking re-election on Nov. 3 as the Democratic nominee, while Elhady is challenging her, and is unaffiliated with any party.
The Chronicle arrived just after the ground rules were explained – questions read by Eaton were submitted to him by attendees of the event. There would be opening statements from each candidate, announced Eaton. At that, Higgins suggested that they dispense with the opening statements and dive right into the questions – the event was about letting Ward 4 residents get their questions asked and answered, she said. Elhady quipped that he’d had his “heart set on an opening statement,” but agreed to Higgins’ suggestion.
The event was organized by Elhady’s campaign. Eaton, who is pictured on Elhady’s campaign website and has contributed to the Elhady campaign, administered the questions and kept time in a way that could fairly be characterized as impartial. When Elhady concluded one of his responses, Eaton self-reported that he had not timed Elhady and would thus not time Higgins, either. In general, adherence to the two-minute time limit was not a problem for the candidates, good pace was maintained between questions, and they covered a lot of ground in the hour.
Below we give the questions and answers in summary form – no attempt has been made to render a verbatim account. Higgins and Elhady took turns taking first crack at the questions. So in every case, the candidates’ responses are summarized in the order they were given. The order of the questions is also presented in the order they were asked.