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Posted on Tue, Aug 7, 2012 : 8:48 p.m.

Kailasapathy beats Sturgis in 1st Ward race for Ann Arbor City Council

By Ryan J. Stanton


Eric Sturgis, left, and John Greden watch results roll in at Heidelberg.

Ryan J. Stanton |

With all 10 precincts reporting, Sumi Kailasapathy has defeated fellow Democrat Eric Sturgis in the 1st Ward primary race for the Ann Arbor City Council.

The final vote count was 863-628, giving Kailasapathy 57.7 percent.

"I congratulate Sumi for a great race and I'm going to fully support her," Sturgis said while at a gathering at Heidelberg. "Obviously in November she's running unopposed, but I'm going to encourage the people who supported me to support her and I want to thank all of my supporters and the people who helped me."

Kailasapathy and Sturgis were competing for the open seat being vacated by Sandi Smith, who announced earlier this year she wouldn't seek re-election.

Sturgis ran with backing from a number of Mayor John Hieftje's political allies, while Kailasapathy ran on a platform heavily critical of the mayor and council majority's agenda. That included speaking out against plans for a countywide expansion of transit services and a new train station in Ann Arbor — two ideas Sturgis believes the city should pursue.


Sumi Kailasapathy and Eric Sturgis at a League of Women Voters candidate forum in July.

Ryan J. Stanton |

The 1st Ward race was perhaps the ugliest of the four contested races for the City Council in this year's primary. At their first debate in June, the two candidates bickered over whether Kailasapathy should be allowed to have her signs posted outside the Arrowwood Community Center.

Sturgis later criticized Kailasapathy for supporting Republican candidates in the past, while Kailasapathy fired back by pointing out Sturgis donated to Rick Snyder's campaign for governor.

When Sturgis complained he was under siege with personal attacks, Kailasapathy defended the right of local blogger Patricia Lesko, one of her political allies, to write pieces questioning Sturgis' academic credentials. Lesko's speculation that Sturgis didn't really have an associate's degree from Oakland Community College later proved false, though.

Lesko also called out Sturgis for saying he planned to finish his bachelor's degree at Eastern Michigan University when he wasn't yet enrolled. Sturgis showed up to a debate last month with a letter of acceptance from EMU, as well as his transcript from OCC, and jokingly offered Lesko a copy of his birth certificate proving he was born in the U.S. in case she wanted that, too.

Sturgis said just before Tuesday's primary that he and Kailasapathy had smoothed things over and each planned to support the other if voters decided they were the better candidate.

"I think Sumi and I are on better terms," he said.

But on election day Sturgis complained again about handmade signs for Kailasapathy that were posted around town, some allegedly taped to stop signs and other public fixtures.

Sturgis said he's going to focus on finishing his bachelor's degree before he thinks about his political future, but he's not ruling out running for office again. But for now, he said, he looks forward to trying to work with Kailasapathy as the 1st Ward's next council member.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.


Kamal Rajapakse

Sat, Aug 11, 2012 : 9:34 a.m.



Wed, Aug 8, 2012 : 5:29 p.m.

Congrats Sumi,job well done.Hope you don't become one of Prince John "tools" om city council and work towards overhauling the power structure of the "good ole boys" network that has had the upperhand in making decisions that help their cronies win huge contracts in the city.Good luck in all your future undertakings.


Wed, Aug 8, 2012 : 5:32 a.m.

Mr Sturgis became very angry when it was reported someone was taking down Sumi's signs. it turned out it was his mother


Wed, Aug 8, 2012 : 4:18 a.m.

Sumi, please work together with common sense councilmembers to change the direction of council decisions in this town. Try and figure out how the residents can recoup some of the millions spent on the train station ALREADY. Congratulations; I'm guessing it's going to be tough and thankless, but don't let easy corruption steer you away.


Wed, Aug 8, 2012 : 4:04 a.m.


Bryan Ellinger

Wed, Aug 8, 2012 : 1:58 a.m.

This is encouraging, unlike the 4th ward results.


Wed, Aug 8, 2012 : 1:04 a.m.

YES! I am very happy for Sumi. Change is in the air!