1st Ward challenger announces candidacy for Ann Arbor City Council
Democrat Sumi Kailasapathy declared her candidacy today in the 1st Ward race for the Ann Arbor City Council.
Kailasapathy announced in a press release that she officially filed her nominating petitions to appear on the Aug. 3 primary ballot. She will challenge incumbent Democrat Sandi Smith.
A native of Sri Lanka, Kailasapathy has lived in Ann Arbor for the past 13 years and works as a certified public accountant for a downtown firm.
She moved to Michigan in 1997 after completing her graduate studies in New York. She has an undergraduate degree in economics and political science from Wellesley College (Massachusetts) and master's degrees in political science from the New School for Social Research (New York).
Kailasapathy taught courses in gender studies, international political economy and globalization at Eastern Michigan University from 1997 to 2007. She says the city's current fiscal crisis, wasteful projects, neglect of basic infrastructure such as roads and bridges, and threats of further cuts to basic services prompted her to challenge Smith.
She said her platform focuses on getting the city's budgeting priorities right and refocusing on providing basic services. She says her educational and professional background give her the skills necessary to help address the fiscal challenges facing the city.
Kailasapthy has two sons, Ashwin and Keshav, who attend Clague and Logan elementary schools, respectively. Her husband, Giri Jogaratnam, is a professor at EMU, where he has taught for the past 17 years.
Kailasapathy moved from to the United States in the early 1990s. She lived in Jaffna, Sri Lanka, during the 1980s when a civil war was raging. After finishing high school, she went to the University of Jaffna to pursue her undergraduate degree in business.
She was the treasurer of the University Students' Union and was an active union leader defending "not only the democratic, civil and human rights of the student community, but also that of the larger society," she said. "The Students Union played a courageous role in defending the space for civilians from the guns of the government forces and the rebel group Tamil Tigers."
Kailasapathy said many of her colleagues lost their lives "in the process of defending human rights and dignity."
While she was an undergraduate in Sri Lanka, she co-founded a women's organization called Poorani Womens' Organization. In the initial stages, Kailasapathy said, Poorani ran a safe house for women who were victims of military rape. Then it morphed into promoting and undertaking micro-financing to empower war widows and destitute women who wanted to set up their own small businesses and make a living.
While an undergraduate at Wellesley College, Kailasapathy worked through Amnesty International for the release of her fellow students back home. She says she has a wide array of experiences in organizing grassroots-level and community organizations.
Her priorities if elected to the Ann Arbor City Council, she said, include negotiating with the city's unionized employees in good faith to ensure fairness to the taxpayers as well as the city employees, reconsidering the "building rage" that has taken hold of the current council, and listening to neighborhood organizations and supporting them to determine the character of their neighborhoods.
Kailasapathy said she also would work to "stop the amassing of debt to build unnecessary parking structures," and halt the sale or lease of any city park lands. She also vows to work to amend the city's charter so that citizens have a voice in not only the sale of parkland, but the long-term lease of parkland as well.
Kailasapathy is political allies with local activists Jack Eaton, Patricia Lesko, and Lou Glorie, who are seeking to oust the current council majority in this year's elections. To find out more about Kailasapathy's campaign, visit her website or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.