Stories indexed with the term ‘primary elections’

Main & Washington

Conversation at outdoor tables at The Ravens Club concerns the outcome of the recent mayoral primary, and the likelihood that the winner of the Democratic Party nomination will be the next mayor. Brief back and forth establishes that neither can remember who the Republican nominee is. [In fact, no Republican is running.] There’s also apparently no awareness that Bryan Kelly will appear on the ballot as an independent.

Local Candidates Sketch Views on the Arts

Editor’s note: The candidate forum was moderated by the writer, Chronicle publisher Mary Morgan.

Twenty candidates for political office attended a forum hosted by the Arts Alliance on July 23, held at the Michigan Theater in downtown Ann Arbor and focused on the creative sector.

Arts Alliance executive director Deb Polich

Arts Alliance executive director Deb Polich. (Photos by Dave Askins.)

The event included presentations by each candidate as well as opportunities for questions from the audience, and drew out policy positions related to the arts.

County-level candidates shared their thoughts on the possibility of a countywide arts millage.

And mayoral candidate Sally Petersen took the occasion to float the idea of an Ann Arbor city income tax as an approach that would generate more revenue, at the same time shifting some of the burden of local government funding to those who work in Ann Arbor but do not live here.

Bryan Kelly, independent candidate for mayor of Ann Arbor in the Nov. 4 general election, made his first public appearance since qualifying for the ballot. “I can say firsthand that being an artist is the toughest damn job in the world. I’d rather run for mayor than keep writing novels,” he quipped.

Ypsilanti mayoral candidate Tyrone Bridges shared an example of his daughter’s artwork with forum attendees.

Favorite public art named by the candidates included the mosaic adorning the Fourth and Washington parking structure, as well as the half-mile of daffodils planted in The Arb.

And Ann Arbor Ward 5 incumbent Chuck Warpehoski delivered his opening statement in the form of a rap.

In her remarks at the end of the forum, Arts Alliance executive director Deb Polich urged candidates and elected officials to tap into the experts who know the creative sector. She encouraged candidates to touch base with ArtServe Michigan and the Arts Alliance to get accurate information. Ann Arbor is losing ground to other communities like Grand Rapids and Detroit, she said, and that’s why public funding and investment in the arts is important. “Private funding is absolutely here in this county, but it’s not enough – there’s not enough.”

It’s not just about funding, however. Polich stressed the importance of public policy to make the city a fertile ground for the creative sector.

Polich reported that the Arts Alliance will be holding a statewide conference called Creative Convergence on March 19, 2015. Thought leaders from across the country, state and Washtenaw County will be coming to speak about these issues, she said.

This report focuses on state and local candidates, including the Ann Arbor mayoral and city council races, Washtenaw County commissioners, and state legislators. It also includes responses to a candidate survey distributed by the Arts Alliance prior to the forum. Not included here are statements by the two Congressional candidates who attended the forum: Democrat Debbie Dingell, who’s running in the primary against Raymond Mullins of Ypsilanti for the District 12 seat in the U.S. House of Representatives; and Republican Douglas Radcliffe North, who’s running against incumbent Republican Tim Walberg for the District 7 seat in the U.S. House.

The outcomes of many of the local races will be determined in the Aug. 5, 2014 Democratic primary elections, if no Republicans or independent candidates are running. More information about candidates can be found on the Washtenaw County elections division website. Check the Michigan Votes website to find out your polling location and view a sample ballot. [Full Story]

Dascola Mistakenly Left Off Absentee Ballot

After winning a federal lawsuit to secure the right to be placed on the Ward 3 Ann Arbor city council Democratic primary ballot, Bob Dascola’s name was inadvertently omitted from the first wave of absentee ballots sent out to voters. The Washtenaw County clerk’s office was alerted to the problem on the morning of June 27, 2014.

Ed Golembiewski, chief deputy county clerk and elections director, spoke with The Chronicle by phone and said that corrected ballots were currently being printed and would be provided to the city clerk’s office by noon on Monday, June 30 for mailing. The exact wording of the letter to voters accompanying the corrected ballots was being worked out by the county and city clerk’s … [Full Story]

County Board Races Set for Aug. 5 Primary

Competition in only one district for the Washtenaw County board of commissioners will play out in the Aug. 5, 2014 primary. Four Democratic candidates have filed for that seat. The deadline to file for the primary election was 4 p.m. on April 22.

In the remaining eight county districts, incumbents are unopposed in the primary but in most cases face competition in the Nov. 6 general election. Only the board’s two Republican incumbents – Dan Smith and Alicia Ping – are unopposed in the primary and will not face a Democratic opponent in November.

In District 5, incumbent Democrat Rolland Sizemore Jr. decided not to run for re-election. Four Democrats and one Republican have filed for that seat, which represents southeast … [Full Story]

More Candidates File for County Board Race

Two more candidates have filed to run for seats on the Washtenaw County board of commissioners in the Aug. 5, 2014 primary election.

Incumbent Democrat Ronnie Peterson paid a $100 fee on March 25 to appear on the ballot for District 6, which includes Ypsilanti and parts of Ypsilanti Township and Superior Township. And Wilma Gold-Jones, a Democrat from Ypsilanti Township, has filed the required number of signatures to be put on the ballot in District 5. She filed petitions on March 14, and the signatures she collected were subsequently validated by the county elections director. The incumbent in that seat, Rolland Sizemore Jr., previously had announced his intent not to seek re-election. District 5 covers southeast Washtenaw, including Augusta Township and much of … [Full Story]

Number of Signatures Incorrect

Two reports on filings for the August 2014 primary election incorrectly reported the number of signatures needed on petitions for Washtenaw County commissioner. Candidates can file either 50 signatures from their district or pay a $100 fee to appear on the ballot. We note the error here, and have corrected the Civic New Tickers on Jan. 26, 2014 and Feb. 26, 2014.

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]

Howard: Not Enough Sigs for Mayor (Yet)

Albert Howard met the May 15, 4 p.m. filing deadline for nominating petitions to run as a Republican for the office of Ann Arbor mayor. However, the following day Ann Arbor city clerk staff determined that he had not submitted an adequate number of valid signatures. Candidates for mayor must submit 50 valid signatures from registered voters in each of the city’s five wards, for a total of 250 signatures. According to city clerk staff, Howard submitted more than 50 signatures for Ward 1, but only 44 of them were determined to be valid.

Howard might still appear on the Nov. 6 ballot – but not as a Republican. On Friday, May 18, Howard pulled petitions to run for Ann Arbor mayor … [Full Story]

Lineup of State House Candidates

Two of the four races for Washtenaw County districts in the Michigan House of Representatives will have challenges in the Aug. 7, 2012 primary, as last-minute filings before the May 15 4 p.m. deadline added candidates to the field.

Incumbent Democrat Jeff Irwin of District 53 will face Democratic challenger Thomas Partridge on Aug. 7. Partridge, who has unsuccessfully run for various public offices in the past, is a frequent public commentary at meetings of the Ann Arbor city council, Washtenaw County board of commissioners and other public entities. Also filing for that office is Republican John Spisak, who does not face a challenge in the primary. The district represents most of Ann Arbor, and has long been a Democratic stronghold.

In District … [Full Story]

Ann Arbor City Races Set

For mayor and city council partisan primaries, the field in the Ann Arbor races appears to be set – now that the 4 p.m. May 15 filing deadline has passed.

Candidates in the August primary can withdraw from a race until 4 p.m. on May 18. After that, their names can’t be removed from the Aug. 7, 2012 ballot.

In the mayor’s race, incumbent John Hieftje will be unopposed in the Aug. 7 Democratic primary. Although Tom Wall, who’s previously run against Hieftje, pulled petitions, he did not file them. Unopposed in the Republican primary will be Albert Howard, assuming the signatures on his nominating petitions are verified. Howard turned in his petitions around 3 p.m. on May 15, and the city … [Full Story]

Republican Floyd Files in County Board Race

On Monday, May 14, two additional candidates have filed in races for the Washtenaw County board of commissioners. One day remains before the 4 p.m. May 15 filing deadline for candidates affiliated with political parties running in the Aug. 7 primary.

John Floyd has filed as the only Republican candidate in the new District 9 so far. Incumbent Conan Smith, who serves as the current board chair, is the only Democrat so far in that race. Floyd most recently was a Republican candidate in the 2010 Ward 5 Ann Arbor city council race, losing with 21.9% of the vote to incumbent Democrat Carsten Hohnke – in a three-way race that included Newcombe Clark, who ran as an independent. In 2008 Floyd had also challenged Hohnke, … [Full Story]

Update: Washtenaw County Candidate Filings

With two days remaining before the filing deadline for candidates in the Aug. 7, 2012 primary election, several incumbents remain unchallenged so far for Washtenaw County offices. The filing deadline for candidates affiliated with political parties is Tuesday, May 15 at 4 p.m.

Sheriff Jerry Clayton, county prosecuting attorney Brian Mackie and county clerk Larry Kestenbaum – all incumbent Democrats – were the only candidates to have filed by the end of the day on Friday, May 11. No candidates have filed yet for the office of county treasurer – including incumbent Democrat Catherine McClary. According to the county clerk’s office, McClary has picked up the paperwork to file but has not yet turned it in. All of those elected positions … [Full Story]

Brabec, Conn Move on to May Election

Democrat Felicia Brabec and Republican Richard Conn will face each other in May, as expected, to vie for the District 7 seat on the Washtenaw County board of commissioners. Both ran unopposed in their respective primaries on Feb. 28.

Brabec received 303 votes in the Democratic primary. In the Republican primary, 1,386 people voted for Conn.

Brabec currently holds the District 7 seat, one of 11 on the county board. She was appointed to the seat by the board at its Oct. 19, 2011 meeting. The position was vacated after former commissioner Kristin Judge resigned earlier that month. Brabec had been encouraged by Judge to apply for the vacancy, and was one of two people interviewed for the position. [See Chronicle coverage: "County ... [Full Story]

Absent Ballots: Romney Strong in Ann Arbor

Based just on totals from absent voter count boards, it looks likely that Mitt Romney will a decisive majority of Ann Arbor votes in the Republican presidential primary. In absentee ballots counted for all five wards, Romney received 55% of the vote compared to Rick Santorum at 20%. Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich each received 10% of the vote. President Barack Obama was uncontested in the Democratic primary.

In Ward 1, Romney won with 43% of the vote (42 absentee votes), compared to Santorum with 24% (24 absentee votes), Paul with 21% (21 absentee votes) and Gingrich with 8% (8 absentee votes). In the Democratic primary, 95 votes were cast for Obama in Ward 1.

In Ward 2, Romney took 61% of … [Full Story]

Ann Arbor Absentee Ballots Prepped

The Ann Arbor city clerk is preparing to send out the first group of absentee ballots to voters in the Aug. 2, 2011 Democratic primary elections. They’ll be sent on Monday, June 20 to voters in Ward 2, Ward 3 and Ward 5, where Democratic primary elections will be contested for the city council.

In Ward 2, voters will choose between incumbent Stephen Rapundalo and Tim Hull. In Ward 3, a three-way race will be contested by incumbent Stephen Kunselman, Ingrid Ault and Marwan Issa. In Ward 5, incumbent Mike Anglin faces Neal Elyakin. [Chronicle coverage of a recent candidate forum, broken down by ward: Ann Arbor Democratic Candidate Forum]

The last day to register to vote for the Aug. 2, … [Full Story]

Rabhi, Smith Secure County Board Wins

Yousef Rabhi outpolled three rivals to gain the Democratic primary win for the Washtenaw County board of commissioners District 11 seat, according to unofficial results from the county clerk’s office. He received just one more vote than his closest competitor, Mike Fried.

In District 10, incumbent Democrat Conan Smith defeated challenger Danielle Mack, taking 66% (2,563) of the votes.

There are four districts on the county board that represent parts of Ann Arbor. In the other two districts – 8 and 9 – incumbent Democrats Barbara Bergman and Leah Gunn were unopposed in the primary. [Full Story]

Ann Arbor City Incumbents Win

With final unofficial results now tabulated on the Washtenaw County clerk’s website, results for the four contested city races in the Democratic primary show clear wins for all incumbents: John Hieftje for mayor, Sandi Smith in Ward 1, Margie Teall in Ward 4, and Carsten Hohnke in Ward 5.

The closest of the races was in Ward 1, where challenger Sumi Kailasapathy polled 42% of the vote to Smith’s 58% (769 to 1,068 votes) 45% of the vote to Smith’s 55% (833 to 1,004 votes).

In the two other contested council races, challengers received roughly 30% of the vote. In Ward 4, challenger Jack Eaton received 31% to Teall’s 69% (642 to 1,448). In Ward 5, Lou Glorie received 28% to Hohnke’s 72% (933 to 2,415).

In the mayor’s race, however, the margin was even greater. Hieftje took 84% of the vote to challenger Patricia Lesko’s 16% (10,058  to 1,869).

In November, Hieftje will face independent challenger Steve Bean.

In Ward 5, Carsten Hohnke will face John Floyd, who won the uncontested Republican primary on Tuesday, along with independent Newcombe Clark. Teall and Smith are unopposed in November. In Ward 2 and Ward 3, incumbents Tony Derezinski and Christopher Taylor did not face challenges in the Democratic primary and will also be unopposed in November. [Full Story]

Column: Who’s-On-First of Local Politics

It’s primary election day. No doubt every one of you Chronicle readers is voting today – if you haven’t already done it by absentee ballot. However, you can almost bet that many of your neighbors won’t.

Home plate at Allmendinger Park

Home plate at Allmendinger Park. It's been scuffed up, even though it hasn't endured a primary election.

On Monday, Washtenaw County clerk Larry Kestenbaum told The Chronicle that he didn’t have a specific forecast in terms of percentage turnout, but he noted that the relatively high turnout he’d been expecting didn’t seem to be panning out in the absentee ballot application and return rates. For the city of Ann Arbor, we’ve been tracking the city clerk’s absentee ballot return reports, and through July 31, 3,092 had been returned for today’s election. That compares with 2,578 absentee ballots cast in August 2006 and 2,803 in August 2008. It’s certainly an upward trend.

But we’re more interested in draft-horse governance than thoroughbred races (and I promise we won’t beat that analogy like a dead horse too much longer). So we decided to see what kind of base-level knowledge people in Ann Arbor had about their elected officials. Base level, as in: Who represents you on the city council?

And what better day than election day to present the results of our admittedly informal survey.

We didn’t ask about the mayor-ship in our survey, or state-level races. But this column is as good a venue as any to speculate about how the gubernatorial horse race on the Republican side might affect the Ann Arbor Democratic primary for mayor.

That’s like suggesting that the games in the American League West Division could have an impact on the outcome of games in the National League East. But there’s got to be a way to transition out of this awful horse race analogy. And a pennant race, yeah, that just might be the ticket. [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]

Washtenaw Democrats: Districts 10, 11

On the evening of July 13, the four Democratic candidates for the District 11 seat on the Washtenaw County board of commissioners, as well as one candidate for District 10, gathered at the studios of Community Television Network for a forum hosted by the League of Women Voters of the Ann Arbor Area.

Washtenaw County commissioner candidates for Districts 10 & 11

Washtenaw County commissioner candidates for Districts 10 & 11, from left: Conan Smith, LuAnne Bullington, Mike Fried, Yousef Rabhi, Alice Ralph. Smith is the incumbent for District 10. His challenger, Danielle Mack, did not attend. The other candidates are vying for the District 11 seat held by Jeff Irwin, who is running for state representative. (Photos by the writer.)

There are 11 seats on the county board, divided by geographic region – including four districts representing Ann Arbor. Commissioners are elected to two-year terms. This year, Democratic incumbents in two of Ann Arbor’s districts – Leah Gunn of District 9 and Barbara Bergman of District 8 – are unopposed in the primary, though they will face Republican challengers in November.

Incumbent Conan Smith of District 10, which covers the west and northwest portions of Ann Arbor, faces Danielle Mack in the Democratic primary. She did not attend the forum, citing a scheduling conflict. The winner of that primary will be unopposed in November.

In District 11, incumbent Jeff Irwin – who’s been on the board for a decade – isn’t seeking re-election, but is instead running for state representative in District 53. [See Chronicle coverage: "Michigan Dems Primary: House 53rd District"] Four Democrats are competing in the primary to replace Irwin: LuAnne Bullington, Mike Fried, Yousef Rabhi and Alice Ralph. The winner of the Aug. 3 primary will face Republican Joe Baublis in November. District 11 covers parts of central and eastern Ann Arbor. [See the Washtenaw County election website for a complete list of county commissioner candidates.]

Questions posed by the moderator, Nancy Schewe, had been formulated by a LWV-AAA committee, with input solicited from the community. They covered a range of topics, from funding for the county jail and police services contracts to expansion of the road commission and the candidates’ views on mass transit. Candidates were each given one minute to respond. This summary of candidate responses is presented in the order in which they spoke at the hour-long forum. [Full Story]

Ann Arbor Dems Primary: Ward 4 Council

On Tuesday evening, the Ward 4 Democratic Party hosted a forum at Dicken Elementary School so that residents could pose questions to primary candidates for one of the ward’s two city council seats. Margie Teall, the incumbent who has held the seat since 2002, and Jack Eaton, who has been active in politics on the neighborhood level, answered questions for a bit more than an hour.


Jack Eaton and Margie Teall, candidates for the Ward 4 city council seat, engage in the subtleties of negotiation over who would deliver their opening remarks first. (Photos by the writer.)

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. Also in attendance at Tuesday’s forum was Marcia Higgins, the Ward 4 council representative who won re-election in November 2009, defeating independent challenger Hatim Elhady.

Besides Higgins, other elected officials and candidates for office who were introduced at the forum included: LuAnne Bullington (candidate for the 11th District county board of commissioners seat), Ned Staebler (candidate for the 53rd District state Representative seat), Leah Gunn (county commissioner representing the 9th District of the county and seeking re-election), Patricia Lesko (candidate for Ann Arbor mayor). All the candidates are Democrats.

Eaton’s main theme was a need to focus more on infrastructure – those things we need, not the things that might be nice to have. Eaton was keen to establish that his candidacy was not meant as a personal attack on Teall, saying that he expected his supporters to focus on the issues and to conduct themselves in a civil way. His opening remarks were heavy on thanks and appreciation for Teall’s long service on council, particularly with regard to the creation of Dicken Woods, which is now a city-owned nature area.

In the course of the forum, a pointed question to Teall on her biggest regret while serving on the council elicited an acknowledgment from her that she regretted her contribution to the problem last year with city councilmembers emailing each other during council meetings. Eaton was quick to give Teall credit for publicly apologizing in a timely way for her role in the scandal.

For her part, Teall focused on setting forth accomplishments while serving on the council. Those ranged from the longer-term budgeting strategies that she said had helped ensure that Ann Arbor was weathering the economic crisis better than other Michigan cities, to the budget amendment she introduced and the council passed in May, which proposed using $2 million from the Downtown Development Authority, plus more optimistic estimates for state revenue sharing, to eliminate the need to lay off some police and firefighters.

The candidates exchanged different views on basic infrastructure issues like the Stadium Boulevard bridges and stormwater management, to single-stream recycling and leaf collection, to Georgetown Mall, and the transparency of government. [Full Story]

Column: A Pitch for Absentee Voting

Primary elections in Michigan fall on Tuesday, Aug. 3 this year. That’s also the day the Detroit Tigers start a three-game series with the Chicago White Sox at Comerica Park. Here’s a suggestion for Ann Arbor city voters: Don’t plan to go the polls. Instead, plan to take the whole day off and go to the ball game. You can still vote, vote, vote for your home team – you’ll just need do it with an absentee ballot.

Absentee voter applications are not printed on baseballs. This is just someone's execution of the concept that "Every article should have art!"

Now, you don’t have to go to the game in order to qualify for an absentee ballot. But just to be clear, if you do plan to make a whole day event out of your visit to Detroit to watch the game, that will absolutely qualify you for an absentee ballot. If you expect to be out of town, that’s a legally valid reason for voting absentee.

Maybe some of you would even like to make the short drive in to the ballpark after a Monday night stay at the Westin Book Cadillac – from what I understand, it’s a pleasant place to spend the night, even if you’re not a Washtenaw Communty College trustee.

What about you Chronicle readers who aren’t baseball fans? If you want to vote absentee, the current election law specifies a limited set of other reasons you can use, which include being older than 60, being in jail, or having religious beliefs that prevent attending the polls.

The topic came up a bit more than a week ago, when the Ann Arbor city Democrats hosted a forum for candidates contesting the Democratic primaries for Michigan’s 52nd and 53rd district state House seats. Jeff Irwin, who along with Ned Staebler is running for the 53rd District seat, threw out an idea for a tweak in Michigan’s election laws.

Irwin said he’d like to see “on-demand absentee” voting – citizens would be able to obtain an absentee ballot and avoid the lines at the polls for any or no reason at all. It’s not some new screwball idea – it’s been around a while and enjoys a lot of support, from Washtenaw County clerk Larry Kestenbaum, among others.

For the time being, though, the application for an absentee ballot requires that voters commit, you know, really commit – just like the guy on the mound has to commit to delivering the ball to the plate after starting in that direction – to at least one of the allowable reasons under the state statute. Through June 17, according to the first Absent Voter report sent out last week via email by the city clerk, over 1,800 Ann Arborites have already committed to one of those reasons. [Full Story]

Column: What, If Anything, Is a Bicyclist?

Temperatures hit the high 70s at Sunday’s Artisan Market near Kerrytown, where volunteers for Common Cycle were helping people learn about bicycle repair.


Top to bottom: Tom Wright, Frank Schwende, Thomas Kula. (Photos by the writer.)

And as the weather gets warmer, the primary election season will also start to heat up – just as surely as journalists will appeal to hackneyed clichés to describe it. For local office candidates, as well as commentators on local races, part of the sport is to categorize the community into convenient groupings – like parents, homeowners, renters, students, landlords, environmentalists, developers, new urbanists, preservationists, park-lovers, young professionals, old hippies, the handicapped, business people, transit riders, etc.

I’m not certain that bicyclists would make the list as a voter group. But they’ll serve to make the point I want to make.

Yes, that non-exhaustive list of groupings is a sometimes useful and convenient set of labels. But just as the word “zebra” is a convenient label for those horse-shaped animals with a black and white pattern of stripes, that doesn’t mean that all of those “zebras” are necessarily biologically related.

The title of this column, in fact, is a play on the title of a fairly famous essay by Stephen Jay Gould: “What, If Anything, Is a Zebra?” That essay was written back in the early ’80s and I’m not sure if the evolutionary biologists ever settled the question. I don’t really care – zebras don’t live around these parts, and even if they did, they’re notorious non-voters.

But bicyclists do live around here. And they’ll serve as well as any grouping to illustrate the fact that among any “community” we include in a list of labels, there’ll be smaller sub-communities that have more specialized interests. So we’d do well to avoid thinking of these convenient labels as reflective of any one coherent community.

This column takes a look at three groups of people that could fairly be labeled “bicyclists,” with the idea that they’re separate groups, with maybe some overlap in people, but which are fundamentally different: Washtenaw Bicycling and Walking Coalition, Bicycles Are Traffic, and Common Cycle. I look at each group through the lens of one of their events I’ve attended over the last week and a half. [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]

Council Primaries Set Despite Duplicate Sigs

The deadline for filing signatures to qualify for the Aug. 3 primary ballot expired at 4 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon. A couple of hours before that deadline, John Floyd was at the Ann Arbor city clerk’s office filing three additional “insurance” signatures to make sure he ended the day with the required minimum of 100.


At the Ann Arbor city clerk's office, Uncle Sam looks on as Ward 5 candidate for the city council, John Floyd, signs his petition sheet Tuesday afternoon. Floyd had previously submitted a sufficient number of signatures to qualify for the ballot. He was submitting three additional "insurance" signatures. (Photo by the writer.)

Floyd had already qualified for the ballot with 101 signatures. But a filing the previous day by another Ward 5 candidate, Lou Glorie, had revealed a duplicate signature – and both signatures are disqualified under the city of Ann Arbor’s charter. That left Floyd with exactly 100 signatures – and he didn’t want to take any chances that two other candidates who’d taken out petitions might file with additional overlapping signatures.

Floyd’s concerns weren’t completely unfounded. Glorie’s filing on Monday had bumped Ward 5 incumbent Carsten Hohnke’s signature total from 100 down to 97 – three of Glorie’s signatures overlapped with Hohnke’s. And Hohnke had needed to submit additional signatures to qualify for the ballot – his additional 15 signatures brought his final total to 112.

Floyd’s signature count held steady through 4 p.m., making him the only Republican candidate in the Aug. 3 city council primary  races. For the Democrats, Patricia Lesko and incumbent John Hieftje will contest the mayor’s race. In Wards 2 and 3, incumbents Tony Derezinski and Christopher Taylor, respectively, will be unopposed in the primary. The Ward 1 race will be contested by Sumangala Kailasapathy and incumbent Sandi Smith. The Ward 5 primary race is between Glorie and incumbent Hohnke.

[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]

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]

Their Words: Ward 5 Council Candidates

Jeff Irwin moderating Democratic Party

Jeff Irwin, who serves on the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners, moderated the Democratic Party's candidate forum. (Photo by the writer.)

Last Saturday, July 11, the Ann Arbor Democratic Party hosted a forum for candidates in contested primary races for city council in Wards 3 and 5. The forum was held in the context of the party’s regular monthly meeting at its usual location in the Ann Arbor Community Center on North Main Street.

Independent campaigns could make the November election interesting in Wards 1 (Mitchell Ozog) and 4 (Hatim Elhady). But in Wards 3 and 5, the lack of any Republican or independent candidates means that those spots are almost sure to be decided in the Democratic primary on Aug. 4.

Currently, only Democrats serve on Ann Arbor’s city council.

The council consists of the mayor plus two representatives from each of five wards, who serve for two years each. That means each year, one of the two representative seats for each ward is up for election. Saturday’s Democratic Party forum was attended by three out of 11 current councilmembers: Mike Anglin (Ward 5), who was participating in the candidate forum; Carsten Hohnke (Ward 5), who was first elected in November 2008, and whose seat is not up for election until 2010; and Sabra Briere (Ward 1), whose Democratic primary race is uncontested.

After the break: What the Fifth Ward candidates, Mike Anglin and Scott Rosencrans, had to say. [Full Story]