Stories indexed with the term ‘special acts’

Column: Ann Arbor, a One-Party Town

Editor’s note: Column author Bruce Laidlaw served the city of Ann Arbor as city attorney for 16 years, from 1975-1991. Starting with his service at chief assistant city attorney in 1969, he served the city for a total of 22 years. He defended the city in two elections that were contested in court, both involving the election of Al Wheeler as mayor in the mid-1970s.

Act 101?? of ??

Image links to the Google digital scan of the 1,204-page volume "Acts of the Legislature of the State of Michigan Passed at the Regular Session of 1859." The act in this screenshot amended the act that incorporated the city of Ann Arbor.

As this year’s May 15 filing deadline nears for Ann Arbor’s Aug. 7 partisan primaries, Laidlaw reflects on how it came to be that Ann Arbor’s local elections involve political parties at all. 

Ann Arbor was incorporated as a city 161 years ago, by a special act of the Michigan legislature in 1851.

At that time, special acts were required to incorporate cities and business corporations. So Act 101 of 1851, which incorporated Ann Arbor, was the original city charter. Subsequent Ann Arbor city charter amendments were also made by special acts of the Michigan legislature – in 1859, 1861, 1867 and 1889. Ann Arbor was governed under the 1889 special act charter until 1956.

The original Act 101 charter established the offices of a mayor, recorder, marshal, street commissioner, assessor, treasurer, three constables, four aldermen, two school inspectors, two directors of the poor, and four justices of the peace. [Full Story]