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Posted on Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 5:55 a.m.

4th Ward Ann Arbor City Council candidate bios

By Staff

In Tuesday's primary, voters in Ann Arbor's 4th Ward will choose between incumbent City Council Member Marcia Higgins and challenger Jack Eaton, both Democrats. asked both candidates to provide the following basic information about themselves. Both candidates were allowed up to 200 words for responses to the last two questions.


Jack Eaton

Name: Jack Eaton

Age: 60

Address: 1606 Dicken Dr.

How long have you lived in the ward? Since July 1998

Education: BA from University of Michigan; Law Degree from Wayne State University School of Law.

Professional experience: As a young adult, I worked as a transit worker for more than a decade. I have been a lawyer since 1991. As an attorney, I represent transit employee unions across the state, but not in Ann Arbor.

Political background: I am a life-long Democrat. I have not held elected office.

Community involvement: I am active in my neighborhood group, I have helped other neighborhoods organize, and I co-founded a coalition of neighborhood organizations called the Neighborhood Alliance —


  • Sierra Club Huron Valley Group and Sierra Club Michigan Chapter
  • Ward One City Council member Sumi Kailasapathy
  • Ward Five City Council member Mike Anglin
  • Ward Two City Council member Jane Lumm
  • District Library Board member Nancy Kaplan
  • Former County Board of Commission member Vivienne Armentrout
  • Former Treasurer of the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority Board Ted Annis
  • Local Environmental Activist Doug Cowherd
  • Chair, Protect Our Libraries, Kathy Griswold


Why are you running for council?

I am running for City Council to add my voice to those on council who seek to represent the common sense priorities of city residents. In my activities as a neighborhood advocate, I have found some members of our City Council to be unresponsive to the wishes of their constituents. My neighbors, friends and supporters tell me they want local government to focus on core services and essential infrastructure.

Residents tell me they want a representative who responds to their phone and email inquiries. I will not only be responsive, but I will work hard to help residents and neighborhoods resolve their problems and concerns. I believe residents should not need to organize a neighborhood group or collect signatures on a petition just to get their elected representatives to address their concerns.

The current council is closely split between those who are willing to use public money to subsidize private development and business and those who seek to provide excellent public services. I intend to work with others on council to set reasonable spending priorities to better serve our neighborhoods.

What are your top three priorities?

  • My top priority is our infrastructure. Residents urge me to work to improve the sorry state of our local roads before spending on visionary road corridor planning projects. Additionally, I support efforts by neighborhoods to get the city to address our long neglected stormwater system and neighborhood flooding.
  • My second priority is to address our real and substantial environmental problems. I would work to turn our attention from frivolous projects such as solar powered parking meters to real problems such as the Gellman 1,4-dioxane pollution plume that has spread across our community and is headed for the Huron River. Additionally, I am concerned that our failure to address our stormwater system deficiencies will have significant impact on the health of our river.
  • My third priority is the city's budget priorities. I would devote myself to rebuilding our police and fire departments. Neither department meets commonly accepted national standards for staffing. Residents want their local government to exercise fiscal restraint that is familiar to anyone who has a household. We must provide excellent core services before we engage in extravagant projects and subsidization of development.


Marcia Higgins

Name: Marcia Higgins

Age: 62

Address: 1535 Westfield Ave.

How long have you lived in the ward? 25 years

Education: N/A

Professional experience: 14 years on City Council

Political background: Democrat

Community involvement: City Council


  • IBEW Local 252
  • Michigan Laborer's Political League
  • Mayor John Hieftje
  • Nancy Leff, Neighborhood Leader
  • City Council Member Christopher Taylor
  • City Council Member Margie Teall


Why are you running for council? Our city is in a strong position as the state emerges from the Great Recession and I want to continue working to keep us moving forward. Many cities raised taxes during the recession, but despite the loss of our largest taxpayer and private employer, we made it through hard times with a millage that is lower now than it was in 2000.

Steps we took at council years ago are paying off with many new, well-paying jobs in our city. Our infrastructure is being repaired, upgraded and replaced. This includes: bridges, stormwater capacity, the sewage treatment plant and now our roads. Our downtown is more vibrant and lively than it has ever been. Crime is at an all-time low. I have worked to ensure that our police officers have decent working conditions and that gives us the ability to retain our dedicated officers.

As chair of the Labor Committee, I pushed to hire new police officers. I also opposed the closing of any additional fire stations. I want to continue to bring a balanced viewpoint that is representative of our 4th Ward community to the council table and that includes ensuring that all voices are heard.

What are your top three priorities? Stormwater issues, moderate development, transportation for everyone.

Related coverage:


Nic F.

Mon, Aug 5, 2013 : 2:02 a.m.

After living in A2's 4th ward for three years now i know it's clearly the most neglected area in the city.


Mon, Aug 5, 2013 : 12:12 a.m.

It's quite unconscionable that has a letter-to-editor supporting Eaton in it's print copy, but not online.

Nic F.

Mon, Aug 5, 2013 : 1:59 a.m.

Ann endorsed Higgins!

4 Real

Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 6:59 p.m.

One look at the Eaton supporters and I would hope that voters in the Fourth ward flock to re-elect Higgins on Tuesday. They are the party of "NO". They have no ideas about moving forward, just about trying to block progress in the City. They are also all supporters of the Pat Lesko party, where facts are unimportant.

Patricia Lesko

Mon, Aug 5, 2013 : 7:27 p.m.

OMG! No one told me I was having a party. The "Pat Lesko Party." For people who have no clue who Pat Lesko is here's a quick bio: I've lived in Ann Arbor for 34 years and have run for local office. I was a college faculty member, and then I founded an international higher ed. publishing group 20 years ago. Now, it also appears as though I'm also part of the Famous Party Scene. We have Tomatina, Full Moon Party, Burning Man, Songkran and The Pat Lesko Party. At The PLP we get together and elect people who will vote to fund city services, repair and repave streets, fund and protect our parks and our watershed, focus on ways to increase city revenues, and plug water main breaks with the awards our mayor has paid staffers to apply for. At the PLP we want AATA to serve taxpayers first and best, and Canton never. PLP wants the DDA Board filled by real downtown merchants instead of political has-beens and cronies. We vote to elect people who are smart enough to understand that the phrase "crime is down" is as thoughtless as it is ignorant of the fact that crime is about people and families. Case solved data is what we need to parse. We elect people who are serious about paying down the $250M city retiree pension and health care time bomb, because I'm pretty sure people don't want their property taxes doubled to pay that debt. The facts are simply these: An informed electorate makes informed decisions, so party on A2 politicos. Local politics is so very important, and so are your votes.

4 Real

Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 11:20 p.m.

Trite and Tired is the constant whining about the Council Party or the Mayor's Party. Seems to me when all other cities in Michigan and many in the rest of the country have been struggling - or worse - Ann Arbor has been building bridges, providing money for supportive services to our most needy, and lowering the mileage rate. Higgins has been a big part of that and she should stay on Council.


Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 8:59 p.m.

4 Real - Give up the trite and tired "party of NO" label that does not at all fit Jack Eaton. Did you even look at his statement of priorities listed in bio in this article? And his associated suggestions? Have you ever read any of his enlightening and detailed discussion of issues related to article published at Can you offset Jack Eaton's erudite statements with any from Marcia Higgins? As I see it, Marcia Higgins greatest quality is her loyalty to the mayor.


Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 7:44 p.m.

Higgins had only FIVE campaign contributors from within the entire ward that she has been serving for 14 years. How would you explain that without using the word "pathetic"?

Charles Curtis

Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 6:26 p.m.

Great more promises and no funding. How about putting forth some ideas on where the money will come from. What are you cutting? New tax or what the new in thing is, new fees? Its great that they can name 3 issues, but no funding means no thought by candidates and we just get more of the same. The attacks on education are unfair, since so many of the elected are well educated in colleges, unfortunately that does not mean much in the real world. I dont need another candidate who has 5 degrees, but has never worked in real world. Our country did quite well without the uber educated, grew, expanded, but now all we have in office is uber educated people who cant balance a check book. We need a change but there are no candidates offering any real change.


Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 3:21 p.m.

At least now we know that millage rates will increase if they are elected or we get some windfall revenue to pay for the increases and projects wanted.

Vivienne Armentrout

Mon, Aug 5, 2013 : 12:27 p.m.

Ryan, you do know about Headlee, right? All millage rates are rolled back according to a formula each year. That is why municipalities will sometimes ask for a "Headlee override" to bring the millage back up to its original value. I didn't check your figures, but do you mean the general operating millage? The overall millage will vary year to year based on special millages passed by the voters. When John Hieftje was first elected Mayor, he chose to have the city collect less than the authorized millage. The city was in financial stress at the time and began to cut staff. Later the council brought it back up, at least partly. (I'm going from memory here without time to look it up.)


Mon, Aug 5, 2013 : 2:30 a.m.

Ryan so have our services.


Mon, Aug 5, 2013 : 1:44 a.m.

An ALMOST 2 percent drop! WOW! Just WOW! Taxes are WAY down!

Ryan J. Stanton

Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 5:46 p.m.

I'm not going to predict what the city's millage rates will be in the future, but they've been trending down over the years. From what I can quickly pull up, the city's FY 2007-08 millage rate was 16.7825 mills and now it's down to 16.4501 mills.

Colorado Sun

Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 2:11 p.m.

I have been following Marcia Higgins' career for many years. I have no idea of her educational background or what she does for a living currently. Historically, she has been a clerical worker. According to , she had been previously briefly employed by the University of Michigan School of Engineering earning about $44,000 per annum as a clerical employee. Now she works in Livonia some place.

Ryan J. Stanton

Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 5:26 p.m.

She previously worked for Borders and the university and now is an executive assistant at the Pet Supplies Plus headquarters in Livonia.


Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 2:09 p.m.

Can someone or ANYONE explain to me how someone like Marcia Higgins gets elected to PUBLIC office and she has nothing more than a High School education? What makes this woman qualified to make decisions that affect A2 taxpayers and their everyday life when when she probably struggles to balance a checkbook? YOU have got to be kidding me. I will get attacked for this, but it is a reality check. NO wonder this City has the issues that it does, when the people making the decisions are the greeters at Walmart. Wow. Only in Ann Arbor. No WONDER her priorities are PUBLIC ART. That is all her brain can process. And we wonder why our roads are falling apart, we need more police, we have flooding after every storm, etc.......... There is an old saying, "you make your bed, you sleep in it."


Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 5:49 p.m.

I won't attempt to explain how she got elected to public office, but I do take issue with your characterization of someone with just a high-school education as being unfit to serve. Is there some radical checkbook balancing function that involves math operations beyond adding and subtracting? Does one need an advanced degree to see that our roads are crumbling? Next time you need new tires thank your local high school grad for remembering to tighten all your lug nuts. When I was awarded my degree, I don't remember being given a sense of entitlement, or the right to look down on others. Only in Ann Arbor.


Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 4:31 p.m.

After 14 years on City Council Marcia Higgins educational background has little meaning. Her activities on City Council, or lack thereof, should be the basis for considering reelection.

Nicholas Urfe

Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 3:22 p.m.

Some people are very insecure about their educational background. They haven't accomplished much other than a degree, so they try and hold it over others. At least that isn't something we can criticize Higgins for.

Colorado Sun

Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 2:15 p.m.

Her husband, Pat Putnam had been a GOP Ann Arbor City Councilman in the 1990s. That is her primary qualification for office.


Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 1:24 p.m.

What does education N/A mean? Didn't complete pre-school? Or, as I suspect from the short answers, couldn't be bothered communicating with her constituents anymore here than she can be elsewhere (or bothered for showing up for meetings)? No one needs to spend 14 years on a city council. At that point you're not serving, you're making a career out of it.


Mon, Aug 5, 2013 : 1:42 a.m.

Naval Academy is usually listed as NA. But most people mean - no degrees when they put N/A


Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 1:30 p.m.

Now I've heard of a BA and an MA, but never a N/A.

Ryan J. Stanton

Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 11:31 a.m.

If you're not sure which ward you live in or where to vote on Tuesday if you are in the 3rd or 4th wards (there are no races in other wards in Ann Arbor), here's the city website link to the individual ward maps, showing each precinct, with polling locations in red: You also can check to make sure you're registered to vote (and find out your precinct and polling location for Tuesday's primary) here: That last link is especially helpful if you've recently moved and are unsure if you're still registered at your old address.

Alan Goldsmith

Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 11:15 a.m.

Higgins is for "transportation for everyone"? What in the world does that even mean? A new Honda and a shiny new bike for everyone in the 4th Ward? Lol.


Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 4:54 p.m.

Ask her if it means rail transportation which will be very costly to Ann Arbor tax payers who may have to pay as much as $66 million to build a Fuller Road railroad station and then heavily subsidize rail operations.

AA Neighbor

Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 4:48 p.m.

It means taxing us to bring people from Ypsilanti and Howell to AA on our dimes. That's the Hieftje-Higgins "vision of the future".


Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 10:32 a.m.

Where is the discussion of Higgins support for the "art" program, the pedestrian crossing debacle, the car idling joke, the layoffs of police and firemen, the lack of infrastructure maintenance, her horrible attendance - missing 15% of council meetings and leaving early on 12 other instances, failure to attend election/debate events, failure to communicate with constituents who contact her with issues, her lack of community engagement, etc, etc.?


Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 10:24 a.m.

I like one of Mr. Eaton's answers: I am a "lifelong" Democrat. Nice subtle jab there, Mr. Eaton. :)


Mon, Aug 5, 2013 : 1:51 a.m.

Vivienne is correct. She switched parties ca. 2004 or 2005 and gave the Mayor glowing reviews. I was living in her ward at the time. The Democrats had a 9-1 majority on council in addition to holding the Mayor's seat. I remember reading the Ann Arbor News column that profiled the last Republican on council with the lede "And Then There Was One." Forgot his name, but he lived in 2nd ward. Chris, something.

Vivienne Armentrout

Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 1:50 p.m.

She also ran for Mayor as a Republican, opposing John Hieftje. I think that was 2002.

Ryan J. Stanton

Sun, Aug 4, 2013 : 11:50 a.m.

Just for background, for those unaware, what metrichead is referring to here is that Higgins served on council as a Republican before switching parties in 2005.