Stories indexed with the term ‘political campaigns’

Dems Forum Finale: The Campaign, The Party

Editor’s note: A forum hosted by the Ann Arbor Democratic Party on 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), and 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.

This final installment of coverage from the June 8 city council candidate forum focuses on the remarks candidates made that were overtly about the campaign – to the extent that those remarks weren’t included in one of the previous reports on this forum.

The fact that the forum was hosted by the Ann Arbor Democratic Party meant that party politics was an obvious potential topic. State representative Jeff Irwin set that tone early as he addressed the audience with a legislative update. And Ward 2 candidate Kirk Westphal, who’ll face independent Jane Lumm in the general election, stressed that he is a Democrat.

Part 1 of this series focused on the candidates’ concept of and connection to Ann Arbor, while Part 2 looked at their personal styles of engagement and views of how the council interacts. Part 3 reported on the theme of connections, including physical connections like transportation, as well as how people are connected to local government. And Part 4 covered the theme of downtown and its role in the life of the city. Chronicle election coverage is tagged with “2013 primary election.”

The League of Women Voters of the Ann Arbor Area will be holding its candidate forums for Ward 3 and Ward 4 primaries on July 10 at the studios of Community Television Network. Those forums will be broadcast on CTN’s Channel 19 and will be available online. [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]

Column: Why Not Endorsements?

During my three-year stint as opinion editor at The Ann Arbor News, I grew to dread election season. The dread was due in part to the nastiness that elections often bring out in people – nastiness that typically lies dormant, or is at least well-cloaked by social convention.

Hank Beekley with his team of draft horses – a Belgian and a Shire – disks the field. The hospital building is visible in the background. The view is roughly to the northwest. (Photos by the writer.)

Chronicle file photo of Hank Beekley with his team of draft horses – a Belgian and a Shire – as they disk the field on the St. Joseph Mercy Hospital campus. They were preparing the acreage for gardens that will supply fresh vegetables for the hospital cafeteria and for a farmers market. As non-city residents, neither the Belgian nor the Shire is contesting a city council race this election cycle.

On the upside, elections really make it clear that we live in a democracy. They elicit a spurt of energy and passion from the electorate, as voters cheer on their candidates like racing fans at Northville Downs cheer their horse-racing picks. If enthusiasm among voters for civic affairs were sustained throughout the rest of the year, that would really be something. That’s when we expect the thoroughbreds who win the horse race of the election to transform into draft horses and do the work that matters. But cheers for the draft horse are rare, and it only takes a few days post-election for most residents to lose interest until the next campaign. [Full Story]

WCC President Repays $4,000 Dinner Tab

Washtenaw Community College President Larry Whitworth says he is taking full responsibility for $4,000 spent by the college on a dinner for its board of trustees annual retreat in early March. At a press briefing earlier today at his office on the WCC campus, Whitworth said he planned the retreat and therefore he – not the WCC board members – should take the blame for the expense. It has become an issue in trustee David Rutledge’s bid for the 54th District state House seat.

As first reported by The Chronicle, the board of trustees two-day retreat at the Westin Book Cadillac hotel in Detroit cost a total of $9,910.70, including dinner at the hotel’s 24grille restaurant and $5,887.43 in hotel charges. WCC’s paper The Washtenaw Voice later reported that the dinner bill included $573 worth of wine.

Whitworth said the cost of the meal was higher than anticipated due to the fact that he missed a detail on the menu that 24grille faxed him before the retreat. Specifically, he didn’t read the fine print stating that the restaurant would charge $100 per person for the meal, not including tax and gratuity. Whitworth said he expected to pay about $2,000 and was shocked when he saw the bill. [Full Story]

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]

Democrat Mike Smith Declares Candidacy

Mike Smith

Mike Smith

With three Republicans already in the race, Lambertville Democrat Mike Smith has announced he’s seeking the Democratic nomination for the 55th District seat in the state House of Representatives – a district that includes Pittsfield, Saline and York townships in Washtenaw County, along with parts of Monroe County.

A member of the Bedford Public Schools Board of Education, the 36-year-old Smith had been considering a run for the seat now held by state Rep. Kathy Angerer, D-Dundee, for some time.

Already elected to three two-year terms, Angerer is unable to run under the state’s term limits law. Smith announced his decision Friday. [Full Story]

More Candidates Vie for State House, Senate

The capitol building in Lansing. (Photo by Mary Morgan, taken in obviously warmer weather.)

The capitol building in Lansing. (Photo by Mary Morgan, taken back when the weather was warmer.)

Local candidates for the Michigan legislature are jumping into races for both the state House and Senate, making for a potentially crowded primary season next summer – and creating openings in elected offices closer to home.

Most notably, as many as four Washtenaw County commissioners could leave the 11-member board to seek state office in 2010.

In this report, we’ll give an update on the 18th District state Senate race, as well as House races in the 52nd, 53rd, 54th and 55th districts. You’ll find out who’s running as the “hot dog man,” which political rumor is described by an elected official as “funny,” how many candidates have Facebook groups, and who expects to spend more than $65,000 on his campaign.

All of this and more, after the jump. [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]