All eight candidates in four city council Democratic primary races participated in a forum hosted on July 14 by the Ann Arbor Democratic Party. This article summarizes the responses from Ward 4 candidates – incumbent Margie Teall and challenger Jack Eaton. Other races are covered in separate Chronicle articles.
Ward 4 Ann Arbor city council candidates Jack Eaton and Margie Teall. (Photos by the writer.)
This year’s Ward 4 race reprises the 2010 contest that Teall won over Eaton with 69% of the vote. Teall has served on the council since 2002 and is seeking her sixth two-year term on the 11-member council – which includes the mayor and two representatives from each of the city’s five wards. Democratic primaries are contested this year in just four of the five wards, as Christopher Taylor is unchallenged in Ward 3. The winner of the Ward 4 Democratic primary will likely not face an on-the-ballot opponent in November – because no Republican has filed and the deadline for independent candidates to file is July 19.
In his remarks on local policy issues, Eaton stressed what he called sensible spending priorities – support for fire and police protection. He framed his thoughts on local issues by pointedly listing out those things he supports, not things he opposes.
Among those things he supports: city parkland – and specifically a possible charter amendment that would require a public referendum on the long-term leasing of parkland (not just sale, as the charter currently reads). He also supports the idea of a park on top of the new underground parking garage. He supports rebuilding the police and fire departments, and spending the city’s street reconstruction tax to repair roads in a timely fashion. If elected, he said he’d support neighborhoods by being a voice for their concerns.
Eaton also stressed some beliefs that could be characterized as classic Democratic Party values – support for labor. He cited his profession as a union-side labor lawyer and indicated that he’d fight against the tools that Republican “bullies” in the state legislature are giving local municipalities to reduce benefits to their union workers.
For her part, Teall cited her own labor credentials by saying she had support from several local unions. She gave an implicit response to Eaton’s focus on fire and police protection by saying that public safety had been a priority since 2002 when she first was elected to council. She indicated that residents could expect to see a greater police presence downtown, as the city has implemented a police recruit program. She identified flooding as currently a top issue for Ward 4, but pointed to the reconstruction of the East Stadium bridges and securing funding for future demolition of the Georgetown Mall as points of progress.
Teall said the city budget is in the best shape it’s been in the time she has served on the city council. The overall theme Teall stressed was a desire to keep Ann Arbor on the track that it started down 10 years ago.
Tracks were part of the one main policy question candidates were asked to comment on – the idea of a new rail station possibly to be constructed at the Fuller Road site. Briefly, Teall thinks it’s an ideal location for a rail station, proximate to the University of Michigan medical center, while Eaton feels it reflects inappropriate spending priorities.
Aside from opening and closing statements, not a lot of specific local policy ground was covered by questions put to the candidates – due in part to a time constraint of about an hour for eight candidates. But the candidates did talk a great deal about issues of transparency and group dynamics on the city council – in response to the leadoff question from forum moderator Mike Henry, co-chair (with Anne Bannister) of the Ann Arbor Democratic Party.
Broadcast live earlier in the week on the Community Television Network was a local League of Women Voters candidate forum that included Eaton and Teall, which is available online.
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 – Vote411.org – which includes biographical information on some candidates, stances on issues, and a “build my ballot” feature. [Full Story]