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Posted on Tue, Aug 7, 2012 : 8:44 p.m.

Petersen beats Derezinski in 2nd Ward race for Ann Arbor City Council

By Ryan J. Stanton


Incumbent Tony Derezinski with supporters at Heidelberg in Ann Arbor on election night.

Ryan J. Stanton |

With all nine precincts reporting, Sally Hart Petersen has defeated Democratic incumbent Tony Derezinski in the 2nd Ward primary race for the Ann Arbor City Council.

The final vote count was 1,160-938, giving Petersen 55.2 percent. She now advances unopposed to the November general election.

Derezinski, who earlier this year suggested he might run for mayor eventually, said he's not sure what the future holds for his political career now.

"I don't know, but my political future could be amazing — I mean, I'm only 70 years old," he quipped. "I think I'm going to be a player in the political scene here in the planning of this community. I'm involved in a lot of other things than just city council and I really want to maximize that."

Throughout the campaign, Petersen repeatedly asked voters to look to her business background over Derezinski's municipal government experience.


Sally Hart Petersen, who defeated 2nd Ward incumbent Tony Derezinski, talks with her supporters at The Last Word in downtown Ann Arbor.

Jeffrey Smith |

Petersen has been a stay-at-home mom since 2007 but previously held senior marketing positions at companies like CFI Group and Health Media Inc.

Derezinski, an attorney and a former state senator, has been on council the last four years and is a close ally of Mayor John Hieftje. He also serves on the city's Planning Commission and Public Art Commission, and previously served on the Eastern Michigan University Board of Regents.

"I'm sorry to lose Tony," Hieftje said Tuesday night. "I'm sure he'll stay involved in the community. He's a great council member. He has tremendous experience."

Petersen was backed by some of the same supporters who helped Independent challenger Jane Lumm take down Democratic incumbent Stephen Rapundalo, one of Derezinski's allies on council, in last year's 2nd Ward race.

Petersen was hoping for similar support from 2nd Ward voters on Tuesday, and she got it.

"I'm just elated," she said. "I am incredibly grateful for the support I've had along the way. I've always felt like there was good momentum in this campaign, and I really felt it build as I went door to door."

The campaign brought out distinct differences between the two candidates. Derezinski is a big supporter of the concept of building a new train station in Ann Arbor, as well as expanding public transit services countywide — two ideas Petersen has her doubts about.

Petersen criticized Derezinski during the campaign, calling into question the openness of neighborhood meetings he holds with residents. Petersen said she's never been invited.

Derezinski responded by subtly questioning Petersen's allegiance to the Democratic Party, saying all of his meetings are advertised through the party.

"I think it's a bit disingenuous when you all of a sudden become a Democrat and run on what I think could accurately be phrased as a flag of convenience," he said during the campaign.

"While I have not been active in the Ann Arbor Democratic Party, I have been a very active Democrat in Ann Arbor," Petersen said in response.

Petersen said during the campaign she may be against building a new train station and the countywide transit plan, but she's not negative on the city.

"Sometimes we go in the wrong direction, but I'm not against the city at all," she said. "The city has done well in the last 10 years. I love the city and I want to become part of its leadership."

Asked if she had any last words about the race, Petersen, who was celebrating her victory at The Last Word bar in downtown Ann Arbor on election night, replied: "The Last Word is the last word."

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.



Wed, Aug 8, 2012 : 3:20 p.m.

While i have great sympathy for Tony D,,I am greatly relieved that the power structure in the city council will take a step forward.No longer will Prince John have the power to overide sensible legislation..What a lot of these city council members don't realise is that power is fleeting attribute thats very short lived.I can only urge all elected members to rely on good faith ,honesty ,integrity and do things that would allow their conscience to be the flagship of their decision making..Good luck Tony D I hope that your next venture will allow you to pursue sound,solid decision making skills or else you'd end up in the same old boat with the rest of the "good ole boys". losing again.Congrats Sally.. job well done.


Wed, Aug 8, 2012 : 1:31 p.m.

Better of two evils anyway....


Thu, Aug 9, 2012 : 2:54 a.m.

Please explain. This is Mrs. Petersen's first political office. For what reasons should you consider her "evil", other than her running as a Democrat?


Wed, Aug 8, 2012 : 6:39 a.m.

Congrats Sally P!


Wed, Aug 8, 2012 : 4:22 a.m.

He has done enough damage ...

Ron Granger

Wed, Aug 8, 2012 : 1:41 a.m.

Won't someone stop all these beatings? Why must candidates be beaten? Why can't other candidates simply BE LEADING?


Wed, Aug 8, 2012 : 4:03 p.m.

Tom Wieder, Congratulations on your conversion to civility. I am glad that you have learned that shouting "You lie!" like a back-bench Republican is not helpful.

Tom Wieder

Wed, Aug 8, 2012 : 1:53 a.m.

You're right. Leading is the correct word, not beating.


Wed, Aug 8, 2012 : 1:30 a.m.

If he's out, does he still keep his seats on the various committees and commissions, or are those filled by sitting council members only?


Wed, Aug 8, 2012 : 1:05 a.m.



Wed, Aug 8, 2012 : 2:32 a.m.

You got that right. Hopefully GOOD change, but man, the way it's been going in council, it seems unlikely change can be worse.