Stories indexed with the term ‘political candidates’

Photos: Ann Arbor July 4th Parade

As we celebrate America’s representative democracy, it’s fitting that the Ann Arbor July 4th parade featured plenty of elected officials and candidates for local, state and national office.


Reflections of the parade.

And though they weren’t campaigning, there were also lots of dogs and cute kids, dancers, beauty queens, scouts, Masons, Baptists, Buddhists, a lawn mower brigade and more. Music was provided by the St. Francis of Assisi band, the drum corps from Huron High, and a few other musical acts – though like previous years, there was no full marching band.

The July 4th parade is organized by the Ann Arbor Jaycees, and it’s a logistical challenge with its own parade of details. We thank the dozens of volunteers who work so hard to pull off an event the rest of the community can enjoy each year.

Before we get to the photos, here’s a reminder that if you’re not yet registered to vote, the last day to register for the Tuesday, Aug. 5 primary is nearly here – Monday, July 7.

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 last day to register to vote for the Tuesday, Nov. 4 general election is Oct. 6.

Now here’s sampling of photos from this year’s July 4th parade through the streets of downtown Ann Arbor. [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]

Kunselman, Kailasapathy File Petitions

Candidates for local Ann Arbor office have started filing petitions for the upcoming August primaries.

First to file the minimum 250 signatures (50 per ward) for a mayoral candidate was Stephen Kunselman. The Ward 3 city councilmember turned in his signatures on March 17, 2014 and by the following day, the city clerk’s staff had verified 286 of them, according to records from the clerk’s office.

First to file signatures for city council was Sumi Kailasapathy, the incumbent Ward 1 candidate. She turned in more than the required 100 signatures on March 19, 2014, but as of late afternoon that day the clerk’s staff had not completed the verification process. [Updated: On Friday, March 21 the clerk's office verified that 102 signatures had been verified for Kailasapathy.]

Both Kunselman and Kailasapathy are running in the Aug. 5, 2014 Democratic primary. [Full Story]

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]

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]

Primary Elections: Reminder to Vote Aug. 7

Tuesday, Aug. 7 is primary election day. To verify your registration, find your polling place, and even view a sample ballot for your precinct, visit the Secretary of State’s website.

Ann Arbor Polling Locations

Ann Arbor polling locations. Image links to Michigan Secretary of State website, where visitors can type in their names and find their exact polling locations.

Choices for most Washtenaw County offices will be easy for Democrats and Republicans alike – because many of the primaries are uncontested. Uncontested on either side of the ballot are races for prosecuting attorney (with no Republican on the ballot at all), county clerk and register of deeds, sheriff, and treasurer. Democrats, though, will have a choice will be between Harry Bentz and Evan Pratt to appear on November’s ballot as candidate for water resources commissioner. ["Who’ll Be Next Water Resources Commissioner?"]

Heavily contested is the countywide primary race for the 22nd Circuit Court judgeship, which will be open due to the retirement of Melinda Morris. Four candidates are competing for that position: Erane WashingtonDoug McClureCarol Kuhnke and Jim Fink. The top two vote-getters in the primary will appear on November’s ballot. ["22nd Circuit Court: Four-Way Primary Race"] The judicial race is non-partisan, so all voters can vote on that race – no matter which side of the ballot they choose for the rest of their votes.

Most of the primary races for the county board of commissioners are uncontested as well. But Democratic voters in District 7 will have a choice between Andy LaBarre and Christina Montague. ["District 7 Dems Vie for Washtenaw Board"]

And in Ann Arbor city council races, Democrats will have choices in four out of five wards. In Ward 1 Sumi Kailasapathy and Eric Sturgis are competing for the seat that incumbent Democrat Sandi Smith will be leaving. ["Ann Arbor Council Ward 1: Eric or Sumi?" and "Ward 1 City Council Race: Filling Sandi's Seat"]

In Ward 2, Democrats will have a choice between Sally Petersen and incumbent Tony Derezinski. ["Ann Arbor Council Ward 2: Sally or Tony?"]

In Ward 4, the Democratic side of the ballot will offer incumbent Margie Teall and challenger Jack Eaton. ["Ann Arbor Council Ward 4: Jack or Margie?"]

And in Ward 5, the seat that will be left open by Democrat Carsten Hohnke is contested by Chuck Warpehoski and Vivienne Armentrout. ["Ward 5 City Council: Studying, Listening" and "Ann Arbor Council Ward 5: Chuck or Vivienne?"]

Long since passed is the deadline to register to vote in tomorrow’s election. But eligible voters have until Oct. 9 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. [Full Story]

City Council Campaign Finance Crosses Wards

A preliminary analysis of pre-primary campaign finance reports for the four contested races in the Aug. 7 Ann Arbor city council Democratic primary shows a total of $53,050.25 in cash was raised by the eight candidates combined, with the average donor contributing a bit over $100.

Which Ward is this

Shaded areas indicate Ann Arbor’s five wards. Colored dots denote the address of a donor to a campaign – brown for one candidate and orange for the other candidate. Which ward’s race does this map show? Details below.

The two candidates in Ward 5 raised a combined total greater than any other ward – with Chuck Warpehoski raising $9,558 and Vivienne Armentrout receiving about $2,000 more, at $11,350. Warpehoski’s total came from a significantly greater number of donors than Armentrout’s contributions, but were on average much smaller. Armentrout and Warpehoski are competing for the Democratic nomination and will face Republican Stuart Berry in November. Sitting Ward 5 Democrat Carsten Hohnke decided not to seek re-election.

Raising slightly less than Ward 5 candidates were incumbent Ward 2 councilmember Tony Derezinski ($8,475) and challenger Sally Petersen ($7,947). The distribution of donation sizes was similar for the Ward 2 candidates, and both showed a much higher per-donor average than the citywide figure – $163 for Derezinski and $139 for Petersen.

In Ward 4, Democratic primary voters will have the same choice they had in 2010 – between incumbent Margie Teall and challenger Jack Eaton. This year, they have raised roughly the same amount of money – Teall with $4,685 and Eaton with $4,305.

Ward 1 showed the greatest difference in the amounts raised by the two candidates, as Sumi Kailasapathy raised about 70% more than Eric Sturgis – $4,220 compared to $2,510 for Sturgis. The seat will be open because Sandi Smith is not seeking re-election.

A common theme across all the campaign finance reports is the significant support candidates receive from outside the ward they’re seeking to represent. That’s a trend visible in the maps we present after the jump.

Part of that trend can be explained by the number of city residents who donate money to more than one campaign. Out of the nearly 500 different donors across the eight campaigns, 58 donated to two or more campaigns, and 23 donated to three or more. The Chronicle counted nine donors who contributed to four different city council campaigns.

Many observers perceive a grouping of candidates based on shared basic philosophies – Kailasapathy, Petersen, Eaton and Armentrout on the one hand, contrasted with Sturgis, Derezinski, Teall and Warpehoski. While there’s likely considerable room for disagreement about what the common thread is that ties those candidates together, the multiple-campaign donors bear out a perception of some commonality: Of the 58 multiple-campaign donors, all but three squared up with that candidate grouping.

The three donors identified by The Chronicle as flouting that grouping included 22nd circuit court judge candidate Carol Kuhnke, who gave money to both Ward 2 candidates (Derezinski and Petersen) as well as Sturgis and Teall. Past Ward 2 candidate Stew Nelson gave money to Petersen and to Sturgis. And former Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board member Ed Shaffran donated to Teall and to Armentrout.

Which group had more multiple-campaign donors? There the nod goes to the group with no incumbents – Kailasapathy, Petersen, Eaton and Armentrout – with 39 of the 58 multiple-campaign donors. [Full Story]

Ann Arbor’s July 4th Parade of Candidates

It’s hard to know whether the candy-tossing, pamphlet-proffering politicians in this year’s Ann Arbor July 4th parade were as popular as the backwards clown brigade or the Ann Arbor Derby Dimes. But what politicians or political hopefuls lacked in entertainment value they made up for in volume: This year, 19 of the 84 entries in the Ann Arbor parade were political – candidates running for local, state or national office, current elected officials, and political parties.

color guard

The color guard starts off the Ann Arbor July 4th parade, passing by the Michigan Theater on East Liberty. The theater is offering free admission to U.S. veterans all week.

It was likely the last parade as an elected official for Janis Bobrin, the Washtenaw County water resources commissioner who has served for more than two decades but is not seeking re-election.

This year is unusual because two judicial races are being contested in the 22nd Circuit Court, and three of the six candidates had entries in the parade.

The July 4th parade is organized each year by the Ann Arbor Jaycees. As parades go, it’s a relatively low-key affair, but this year included a rarity for the Ann Arbor parade – a marching band, from Skyline High School. Miss Washtenaw made an appearance, as did baton twirlers, boy scouts, the Masons, and an assortment of other groups representing a wide swath of this community.

Many of those groups are included in the photo essay below. But the photographs also include candidates for office, whose willingness to stand for election is a testament to our representative democracy, which we celebrate each year on this date.

If you’re not yet registered to vote, here’s a reminder that the last day to register for the Tuesday, Aug. 7 primary is nearly here – July 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. The last day to register to vote for the Tuesday, Nov. 6 general election is Oct. 9. [Full Story]

Hohnke Won’t Seek Another Term

Carsten Hohnke, a current Ward 5 Ann Arbor city councilmember, has announced his decision not to seek reelection to the council. Hohnke made his announcement in an email sent to constituents on Saturday morning, citing the desire to spend more time with his family, including his four-year-old son and infant daughter. There have been rumors for several weeks that Hohnke would not run again, even though he took out petitions from the city clerk’s office on Feb. 27.

Hohnke, a Democrat, was elected to his first two-year term on the Ann Arbor city council in November 2008. Other first-time councilmembers elected in 2008 included Sandi Smith (Ward 1), Tony Derezinski (Ward 2), and Christopher Taylor (Ward 3). Hohnke was unopposed in … [Full Story]

2011 Ward 2 Race: Looking Ahead to the ’90s

On a rainy Wednesday evening late last month, around 55 Ann Arbor residents gathered inside the Thurston Elementary School media center to hear Ward 2 Ann Arbor city council candidates respond to questions. This year, the general election in Ward 2 is contested between three-term Democratic incumbent Stephen Rapundalo and independent challenger Jane Lumm, who served on the council as a Republican from 1994-1998.

Stephen Rapundalo Jane Lumm Ward 2

Stephen Rapundalo and Jane Lumm were adamant in their positions, but appeared in relatively good humor. (Photos by the writer.)

Rapundalo has made the city’s past and future a central theme of his campaign, and the Oct. 26 event amply reflected that. Rapundalo spent much of the evening trying to characterize the city councils of the 1990s, on which Lumm served, as unable to work cooperatively as a group. That contrasts with his own approach and that of the current council, said Rapundalo, which is based on consensus and cooperation, even if councilmembers don’t agree on everything.

Even as Rapundalo appealed to the past in criticizing Lumm – for supporting what he called luxurious labor contracts during her tenure of service – he also criticized what he perceives her attitude to be towards the future. He calls it a “hunker down” mentality, which he says doesn’t take into account the steps the city needs to take to ensure future generations have what they need.

For her part, Lumm tells a narrative in which city government has become, since the time she served on the council, disconnected from the priorities of residents. She wants to restore community input and open conversation back to city government, which she contends is now lacking. At the Thurston forum, she responded to Rapundalo’s criticism about her prior service as a councilmember by saying she welcomed the comparison between “the bad old days” and now. She characterized herself as a fiscal watchdog, who pressed financial issues, even if there was not the same appetite for that on the rest of the council.

Certain aspects of Lumm’s record are portrayed on Rapudalo’s campaign website in a way that could fairly be described as out of context. [A closer examination of Rapundalo's portrayals based on city council minute archival material is included in The Chronicle's write-up of the League of Women Voters forum, earlier in the campaign: "2011 Election: Ward 2 City Council"] At the Thurston forum, however, Rapundalo was right about a point of contention that emerged over whether Lumm had enjoyed a Republican majority on a city council committee. The city council archives show a 3-2 Republican majority on the labor negotiating committee in 1996.

The forum was hosted by the Orchard Hills/Maplewood Homeowners Association, moderated by Peter Mooney, who’s president of that group. Rapundalo is a member of the association, and Thurston Elementary is in Rapundalo’s neighborhood. But if there was a general leaning among the assembly, it seemed to be in favor of Lumm – based on response to a few laugh lines sprinkled throughout the forum.

The format of the event contrasted with many other similar events, in that it featured no rigid time constraints on candidate responses – just a general guideline from Mooney to try to limit responses to around three to four minutes.

Mooney took questions written by audience members on cards and synthesized them into prompts for the candidates. Paraphrased questions and responses below are summarized in the order they were given. [Campaign websites: Jane Lumm , Stephen Rapundalo] [Full Story]

Montague First to File for County Board Race

Former Washtenaw County commissioner Christina Montague is the first and so far only person to file as a candidate for county commissioner in the 2012 election cycle – well ahead of the May 15, 2012 filing deadline for the Aug. 7 primary. An Ann Arbor Democrat, Montague plans to run in the new District 7, which covers an area on the east side of Ann Arbor that’s now represented by Democrat Barbara Bergman. Bergman is not seeking re-election. [.pdf of Montague affidavit] Andy LaBarre, also a Democrat, has also indicated his intent to run in District 7, but has not yet filed.

Democrat and current county commissioner Yousef Rabhi picked up nominating petitions earlier this week, and plans to run for … [Full Story]

LaBarre Enters Race for Washtenaw Co. Board

Democrat Andy LaBarre, a former aide to U.S. Congressman John Dingell, on Thursday announced plans to run for the Washtenaw County board of commissioners in 2012. He’ll seek the seat in the new District 7, which was formed during the redistricting process earlier this year. In a statement, LaBarre cited his interest in protecting human services, public safety and parkland: “Unfortunately, as Lansing continues to ask local governments to do more with ever-shrinking state funds, we are confronted with extraordinarily difficult decisions about how to deliver these vital programs just when many residents need them the most. I am running for county commission because I want to use my experience to advance the solutions that will both invest … [Full Story]

Ann Arbor Mayoral Race: Hieftje or Bean

In the mayor’s race, Ann Arbor voters are offered a choice in the Nov. 2 general election between Democratic incumbent John Hieftje and independent candidate Steve Bean. On the last Monday in September, the League of Women Voters hosted a forum for the mayoral candidates. The mayoral forum took place at Community Television Network studios and was recorded – it is available online through CTN’s video-on-demand service.

Welcome to Ann Arbor sign

In contrast to other members of the city council, which represent one of five wards in the city, Ann Arbor's mayor is elected by all Ann Arbor voters. Kudos to any reader who can recognize the location of this sign.

By way of general background, in Ann Arbor, the mayor is elected for a two-year term and is a member of the 11-member city council. The other 10 members of the council come from the city’s five wards – each ward has two seats on the council, one of which is elected each year for a two-year term. In addition to the rights and responsibilities of a councilmember, the city charter assigns the mayor other rights, including: a veto power, the responsibility to make appointments to committees, certain powers during emergencies, and the responsibility to preside over city council meetings. The management of the city is handled by a city administrator [Roger Fraser], who is hired by the city council. The mayor’s annual salary is $42,436.

Hieftje has served as mayor for the last 10 years, first elected in 2000 after serving half a term on the Ann Arbor city council representing Ward 1. At the League’s forum, Bean highlighted his own record of 20 years of service to the city on the energy and environmental commissions – currently chairing the environmental commission. Board and commission service for the city is not compensated.

The two men share many similar views – they occasionally expressed their agreement with each other’s views during the forum. They get along well socially – in fact, they carpooled together to the League of Women Voters event. Still, it’s possible to discern some differences between the two candidates on local issues as well as in their national perspective.

For example, Bean’s take on the proposed Fuller Road Station is that a citizen vote is needed and that the accompanying parking deck doesn’t move us in the right direction of alternative transportation. Hieftje, on the other hand, promoted the location as the best place in all of Michigan for a transit center. Hieftje’s focus on the city’s budget is to continue to find efficiencies to reduce expenses in the face of declining state and federal revenues, while Bean’s perspective seems to include more prominently the possibility of a severe national financial crisis that could be further complicated by declining world oil production capacity.

Bean and Hieftje’s responses are described in greater detail below. [Full Story]

Monthly Milestone: Dough Re Mi

Editor’s note: The monthly milestone column, which appears on the second day of each month – the anniversary of The Ann Arbor Chronicle’s launch – is an opportunity for either the publisher or the editor of The Chronicle to touch base with readers on topics related to this publication. It’s also a monthly reminder to readers who read The Chronicle’s material with a feed reader or some other ad-free mechanism to click through to have a look at the recent ad archive. Some of them are very pretty.

Physically attending various events for The Chronicle has its rewards. Had I stayed home and watched a recent League of Women Voters candidate forum on television, I would have missed the pre-event sound check at CTN studios where the event was taped. The Ward 2 and 5 city council candidate debate is now available online offered through CTN’s video-on-demand feature. [Chronicle coverage of that debate is forthcoming.]

The city council forum combined the races for the two wards. Seated on the CTN stage – at a table decked out with red-white-and-blue bunting – from left to right were the Ward 2 candidates, Democrat Tony Derezinski and Libertarian Emily Salvette, followed by Ward 5 candidates: independent Newcombe Clark, Republican John Floyd and Democrat Carsten Hohnke.

Before taping at the CTN studios, the mic check began with a request from CTN studio technicians for candidates to say something. They began with Tony Derezinski, seated farthest to the left. He deadpanned: “Doe, a deer, a female deer.” [Full Story]

Ann Arbor Forums: The More, The Mayor-ier

On Saturday, July 10, the Ann Arbor Democratic Party hosted a forum for mayoral candidates in the Democratic primary election, which will be held Aug. 3. The following Monday, the League of Women Voters hosted its own mayoral forum. This report combines coverage of those events. Online video of the LWV mayoral forum is available through Community Television Network’s video-on-demand service.


Patricia Lesko and John Hieftje at the League of Women Voters forum filmed at CTN studios on July 12. (Photos by the writer.)

This year Democratic voters will select between challenger Patricia Lesko and incumbent John Hieftje, who was first elected as mayor in 2000. In the November general election, the winner of the Democratic primary will face independent Steve Bean.

Based on campaign finance statements filed Friday, July 23, Lesko has so far collected 49 donations totaling $3,968  – not including a personal loan to her campaign of $1,525. Hieftje has collected 140 donations totaling $16,276. The mean donation to Lesko is $81, compared to Hieftje’s $116. A greater difference is revealed by the median donation: $50 for Lesko  and $100 for Hieftje. Complete financial statements for Lesko and Hieftje are available on the county clerk’s section of Comparing those statements demonstrates it’s possible for one person to donate to both candidates.

Previous Chronicle coverage of the mayoral race includes: “Ann Arbor Dems Primary: Mayoral Race.”

The city Dems forum was moderated by Jim Leonard, who wrote the piece “Satan For Mayor?!” published in the July edition of the Ann Arbor Observer. [Full Story]

Ann Arbor Dems Primary: Ward 5 Council

On Thursday evening, July 15, just as a thunderstorm was rolling in, Tamara Real and Carl Rinne opened their home on Fountain Street to the Ann Arbor Ward 5 Democrats. As the former home to the Fountain Church of God in Christ, the venue is suitable for events like the candidate forum, which drew somewhere around 30 people – once all those who straggled in from the rain were counted.


Lou Glorie, left, and Carsten Hohnke, Democratic candidates for Ward 5 city council. (Photos by the writer.)

The Ward 5 city council Democratic primary this year is contested by incumbent Carsten Hohnke and challenger Lou Glorie. City council representatives are elected for two-year terms and each of the city’s five wards has two seats on the council, one of which is elected each year.

In November, the  winner of the Aug. 3 Democratic primary will face a Republican challenge in John Floyd, as well as an independent challenge in Newcombe Clark.

Glorie portrayed herself as an underdog candidate – a citizen activist who’s not as interested in leading as in collaborating with ward residents to find consensus.

Hohnke focused heavily on various accomplishments during his first two years in office and sought to distance himself from the idea that he is a career politician.

Of interest to readers who follow city council meetings closely, Hohnke left open the possibility of bringing back some kind of proposal for a historic district in the Germantown neighborhood, as well as reconsideration and approval of the Heritage Row development – but not for exactly the same project. [Full Story]

County Building To Be Named for Guenzel?

A proposal to name a county building on Main Street in honor of recently retired Washtenaw County administrator Bob Guenzel is receiving pushback from one commissioner. At last week’s administrative briefing, Wes Prater told his fellow county commissioners that the resolution being presented at their May 19 board meeting “is going to cause some conversation.”

Washtenaw County administration building

The Washtenaw County administration building at the northeast corner of Main and Ann streets might be renamed the Robert E. Guenzel Government Center. (Photo by the writer.)

Conan Smith defended the resolution, which would name the building at 200 N. Main St. the Robert E. Guenzel Government Center. He called Guenzel’s 37-year tenure “remarkable,” saying his length of service and number of accomplishments makes him worthy of the honor. But Prater questioned the process and fairness of the decision, asking, “Who’s being overlooked?”

Also at Wednesday’s briefing, incoming county administrator Verna McDaniel announced her decision to hire Bill Reynolds as deputy administrator. He was one of two finalists who’d been in town earlier this month for a full day of interviews. The board will be asked to approve the hire at its June 2 meeting.

To mark her promotion to county administrator, McDaniel will be honored at a reception prior to the May 19 board meeting, from 5:30-6:30 p.m. at 220 N. Main St.

After last Wednesday’s briefing, commissioners also held a caucus to discuss appointments to nine county boards and commissions. They’ll vote on the appointments at their May 19 meeting, and if the consensus reached at caucus holds, it will result in turnover on the county’s historic district commission.

And a dearth of applications for the workforce development board prompted a discussion of the importance of that group, which helps oversee the county’s Employment Training and Community Services (ETCS) department. Among other things, ETCS is handling roughly $4 million in stimulus funds to weatherize local homes, and commissioner Ken Schwartz raised concerns over the effectiveness of that effort. [Full Story]

Running for Mayor of Ann Arbor: Steve Bean

Running for mayor as an independent candidate starts pretty easy.

Steve Bean City Clerk Office

Steve Bean obtains nominating petitions as an independent candidate for mayor of the city of Ann Arbor. Behind the glass in the city clerk's office is Lyn Badalamenti. (Photos by the writer.)

It’s a five-minute session at the city clerk’s office.

This brief background piece covers some of the nuts and bolts of that process, based on Steve Bean’s Tuesday afternoon appearance on the second floor of city hall at the city clerk’s office. As a bonus, there’s a bit of city history thrown in.

After Bean told Lyn Badalamenti in the city clerk’s office that he was there to pick up nominating petitions, she set to work assembling a sheaf of papers. The spelling of Bean’s family name was the first order of business: “Like the vegetable,” he offered. Next up: A choice between “Steve” versus “Steven.”

The name that potential signatories of Bean’s petitions will see – as well as voters looking at November’s ballot – is “Steve.”

His name will be recognizable to some readers from his service on the city’s environmental commission. He now chairs that body. Before that, he served for nine years on the city’s energy commission. Some city records, especially older documents like city council minutes from April 9, 1992 – which contain the record of his appointment to the energy commission – show Bean’s name as “Steven.”

But the choice for the shortened variant was one he’d thought through before Badalamenti asked him: “That’s how people know me,” Bean explained to The Chronicle. [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]

Local GOP Eyes November Elections

Mark Boonstra, chairman of the Washtenaw County Republican Committee, led the cheer: Virginia! New Jersey! Massachusetts!

Sarah Palin buttons

Sarah Palin buttons were among many on display at the Feb. 16 Lincoln Day Dinner at the Four Points Sheraton in Ann Arbor. (Photos by the writer.)

“What do you say we bring a little Massachusetts home to Michigan?” Boonstra asked, referring to the recent Republican victory in that state’s U.S. Senate race. His question prompted cheers and applause from the crowd of about 150 people attending Tuesday’s Lincoln Day Dinner, at the Four Points Sheraton in Ann Arbor.

“What a difference a year makes,” Boonstra said, noting a resurgence of energy and enthusiasm among local Republicans. It’s a year that the GOP can win back the state House of Representatives, he said, adding that Washtenaw County needs to do its part. Currently, all four state legislative seats in the county are held by Democrats. “If we can do it in Massachusetts,” Boonstra said, “I think we can even do it in Ann Arbor.” [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]

Gubernatorial Candidates Outline Agendas

Pamphlets for gubernatorial candidates Alma Wheeler Smith and Rick Snyder, on the table a Wednesday's Morning Edition meeting hosted by the Ann Arbor Area Chamber of Commerce. Smith, a Democrat, and Snyder, a Republican, were both speakers at the event.

Pamphlets for gubernatorial candidates Alma Wheeler Smith and Rick Snyder, on the table at Wednesday's Morning Edition breakfast hosted by the Ann Arbor Area Chamber of Commerce. Smith, a Democrat, and Snyder, a Republican, were both speakers at the event.

Running was a common theme for speakers at Wednesday’s Morning Edition, a breakfast meeting hosted by the Ann Arbor Area Chamber of Commerce at Weber’s Inn.

Alma Wheeler Smith and Rick Snyder are both running for governor, in the Democratic and Republican primaries, respectively. Michael Ford, the new CEO for the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority, keeps the buses running, while Keith Hafner runs a local karate business. And Kevin Borseth, the University of Michigan women’s basketball coach who makes his team run drills, almost ran for cover when Russ Collins, the event’s MC, brought up an infamous YouTube video that Borseth might well want to forget.

Collins, who’s also executive director of the Michigan Theater, kept the speakers running on schedule – after the jump, we’ll give a summary of their remarks, presented in the order in which they spoke. [Full Story]