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Posted on Tue, Aug 7, 2012 : 9:12 p.m.

Warpehoski beats Armentrout in 5th Ward race for Ann Arbor City Council

By Ryan J. Stanton


Democrat Chuck Warpehoski and his wife, Nancy Shore, director of Ann Arbor's getDowntown program, out on the town after finding out he won the 5th Ward City Council primary.

Ryan J. Stanton |

With all 11 precincts reporting, Chuck Warpehoski has defeated fellow Democrat Vivienne Armentrout in the 5th Ward primary race for the Ann Arbor City Council.

The final vote count was 1,709-1,320, giving Warpehoski 56.3 percent.

Armentrout and Warpehoski were competing for the open seat being vacated by Carsten Hohnke, who announced earlier this year he wouldn't seek re-election.


Vivienne Armentrout


Chuck Warpehoski

The winner of Tuesday's primary will take on Stuart Berry in the November general election, but the chances of a Republican winning are slim.

Armentrout was at somewhat of a loss of words at the end of the night, but she said she doesn't think she lost by a humiliatingly large margin.

"I'm really going to have to sleep on it to say what my larger thoughts are, but I'm not personally upset and disappointed, but I am concerned about the direction of the city," she said. "I've been told repeatedly tonight that I must continue with my blog and I must continue offering my insights and knowledge and so forth."

Armentrout added that it was personally satisfying that she received so much support and that she was able to make sure there was a public discussion on important issues.

"I had a lot of people work very hard for me and give very generous of their time and it was a really rewarding experience on a personal level, even though the result was a loss," she said.

Warpehoski, director of the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice, ran against Armentrout with support from Mayor John Hieftje and some of his political allies, including Hohnke.

Warpehoski, an alternative transportation advocate, is in favor of expanding public transit services countywide and building a new train station in Ann Arbor. Armentrout, a former Washtenaw County commissioner and staunch council critic, ran on a campaign platform at odds with the mayor's agenda, including those projects.

In the past, Armentrout opposed decisions to build a new police-courts building and a new underground parking garage downtown. She also worked to defeat a hotel and conference center proposal for the Library Lot, where she and others would like to see a new downtown central park atop the underground garage.

Some pundits saw Armentrout as the favorite because of her name recognition in the ward, having been a county commissioner from 1997 to 2004. She lost by a 53-vote margin when she ran against Hohnke in 2008, and only after Hohnke spent $20,000 campaigning that year.

Even though he has the mayor's endorsement, Warpehoski noted during the campaign that he and Hieftje don't see eye to eye on every issue.

Comparing himself to Council Member Sabra Briere in terms of style, Warpehoski said he's already informed the mayor he would push him on some issues and act independently on council.

"The way I lead and the way I serve is by listening, by engaging people, hearing what their concerns are, finding out where that common ground is to move forward," Warpehoski said during the campaign. "This is the skill, this is the value, that I hope to bring to City Council."

Armentrout and Warpehoski both said during the campaign they wanted to improve public process. Armentrout said if the city is going to choose to involve the public, it should take into account what the public has to say, and she's not sure that happens all the time.

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.


Jim Schueler

Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 6:42 p.m.

3000 votes in a primary? Dubious distinction of most conscientious citizens. Maybe we need to get a life in the 5th ward. OWS News anyone?


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 2:28 p.m.

I agree with Basic Bob - from what I've heard, this guy is, potentially, more gaf-prone than Mitt and Bush ll, combined. And what he doesn't know about managing municipal finances could fill Hieftje Hall - not a comforting thought in difficult times. The economy may have improved slightly, but the money woes states, and cities, including this one, are likely to persist - even worsen, in the years to come.

Fifth Warder

Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 5:20 a.m.

While I respect Mr. Warpehoski's efforts at the ICPJ and congratulate him on his victory, I think that Vivienne has a far better grasp of budget and other public policy issues that are going to face the replacement for Carsten Hohnke. There are probably few in Ann Arbor that have the abilities to have performed a better job on City Council than Dr. Armentrout. Her tenure on the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners resulted in her being one of the most recognized and respected experts on county finance matters. It was sad that a majority of Ann Arbor voters could not recognize Vivienne's clear superiority in qualiffications in this race. Good luck, Vivienne. I hope you are able to serve our city or county in some other meaningful capacity.


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 2:37 a.m.

At this point in time I do not consider Mr. Warpehoski to have Vivian Armentrout's knowledge and understanding of local issues nor dedication to placing constituent interests ahead of personal interests. Hopefully, Mr. Warpehoski will either prove me wrong or work hard to gain the missing knowledge and skills. Mr. Warpehoski needs to learn what new debt obligations the City will incur if a new railroad station is built on Fuller Road, especially if federal funding support is limited. The estimated $3 million to $6 million that Ann Arbor must contribute, according to the Mayor, is not already sequestered in the City's budget. The City's budget does not have that much discretionary funds nor additional finances to support annual maintenance and operational expenses. Maybe Mr. Warpehoski would not mind recommending a new millage or an income tax to pay for the railroad station but his constituents may have a different opinion. Mr. Warpehoski will get credit if he assesses his voting base's opinion about approving speculative construction, continued gifting of TIF payments back to developers, 1% for art decisions confined to the seven Ann Arbor Public Art commissioners and the Mayor, the DDA's probable insolvency due to a new loan commitment and another bond issuance to construct an underground parking structure for the Village Green City Ann Arbor apartments project. Mr. Warpehoski is an important spoke in the City Council wheel. Hopefully, he will help the City Council wheel to run smoothly and in the right direction.


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

oh boy...... another dog and pony show at taxpayers expense about to happen. too bad.

Basic Bob

Wed, Aug 8, 2012 : 3:40 a.m.

I look forward to plenty of unintended comedy from Mr. Warpehoski. With any luck he will embarrass the mayor right out of office.


Wed, Aug 8, 2012 : 3:02 a.m.

25 votes is not much of a lead... more like, "to close to call" - right, Ryan???!! Sheeeesh!!


Wed, Aug 8, 2012 : 1:27 a.m.

Less than half the precincts reporting, its not over yet!