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Posted on Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 11:46 a.m.

Early voters in Ann Arbor favor incumbents, say they're pleased with direction city is headed

By Ryan J. Stanton


This was the scene early this morning inside Lawton Elementary School, where a steady stream of 4th Ward Ann Arbor residents made their way to the voting booth.

Ryan J. Stanton |

The polls are open in Ann Arbor, and voters are speaking. 

So far, they appear to be saying they want to keep Mayor John Hieftje and all three incumbent Ann Arbor City Council members who are up for reelection today in office.

In more than two hours of talking to voters outside various polling locations this morning, was unable to find a single person who had cast a vote in favor of any of the challengers running for city offices.

Voters overwhelmingly supported Hieftje over his opponent, Patricia Lesko, saying they're generally pleased with the direction the city is headed. And incumbent council members — Sandi Smith, Margie Teall and Carsten Hohnke — also received praise from voters.


Precinct worker Joshua Simon helps 4th Ward voter Donna Shubin at Lawton Elementary School this morning.

Ryan J. Stanton |

"I don't think this is a race where we need people who challenge the incumbents and say they're not doing a good job because they are," said 4th Ward resident Amy Higgins, who cast her vote at Lawton Elementary School.

"I definitely went for John Hieftje," she said. "I think he's been a great mayor. I think those who oppose him are myopic. They're looking at very minor issues. He has a long-term vision for our area and our city and I think that he chips away at that in an extremely organized, calm, forward-looking way."

Higgins said she supported Teall over opponent Jack Eaton for the same reasons.

In the 1st and 5th Wards, voters also favored the incumbents. Smith, D-1st Ward, faces challenger Sumi Kailasapathy. Hohnke, D-5th Ward, faces Lou Glorie.

Glorie, Kailasapathy, Eaton and Lesko are part of an unofficial slate of candidates hoping to oust the current council majority.

Election Day

Fifth Ward resident Bryan Weinert, who cast his ballot at Slauson Middle School, said the choice was easy today. He voted to reelect both Hieftje and Hohnke.

"He's a very thoughtful individual," he said of Hohnke. "He's sharp and open to getting feedback from his constituents. In my mind, he is exactly the kind of citizen leader that we would hope for, so I'm very pleased with Carsten's work the last two years and the spirit he brings to the City Council."

Weinert was one of several voters who said they felt the incumbents would work better with others to move the city forward.

"I think he has an ability to work well with people from a variety of ideological perspectives," he said of Hieftje. "And I think his opponent certainly came across as someone far less willing to be able to work in a collaborative, cooperative manner, and sometimes in a way that requires political compromise in order to move forward. I'm tired of idealogues who are so rigid and cocksure of themselves. I always appreciate a little humility."

Other voters said they were turned off by the negative style of campaign the challengers ran and believed Lesko particularly propagated myths and inaccurate depictions of the incumbent and Ann Arbor city government in general.

But the races for mayor and City Council aren't the only draw for voters today. Also on the ballot are important state House and Senate races, as well as choices for Michigan's next governor.

Several voters said they were torn between Jeff Irwin and Ned Staebler in the 53rd District state House race and Pam Byrnes and Rebekah Warren in the 18th District state Senate race.

Voters were more sure of their picks in the gubernatorial race.

Several Democrats said they liked Andy Dillon over Virg Bernero. Those who voted for Bernero cited his pro-choice stance and said he was the truest Democrat in the race. Those who voted for Dillon cited his moderate political leanings and willingness to work across the aisle.

But multiple voters who identified themselves as Democrats said they crossed over party lines completely today and voted Republican because they either liked the candidates on the GOP side of the ticket better or just felt their vote was better used there.

"I'm not a usual Republican, but for the governor's race I voted for Mike Bouchard," said 4th Ward voter Laura Ent. "I didn't see a lot of negative campaigning on his part, and you don't hear a lot of negative things about him from other opponents."

First Ward voter Fred Lee went for the local guy.

"I felt that Rick Snyder might be a good candidate because he has experience in creating jobs and all that, and I think that's what we need right now," he said, also citing Snyder's moderate leanings. "He's more open-minded. I'm a Republican, but I don't want to be extremely conservative. That's what I think led to where we are today."

Debbie Foster, a recently retired teacher and 4th Ward voter, rode her bike to Pioneer High School to cast her ballot mid-morning.

“The economy. Jobs. Education,” Foster said when asked what issues were the most important to her this election season. "Michigan has to get back on its feet.” Foster chose Bernero over Dillon. But she said if Dillon and Snyder faced off in November, she would cross party lines to pick Snyder. Foster and other teachers voting Tuesday declared Dillon enemy No. 1.

Dillon favors the state’s Race to the Top legislation, which would tie teacher pay to student performance and create more charter schools. He’s also in favor of a push for state-run health insurance plan for teachers.

“Snyder has experience creating jobs - we have to create jobs and bring business here,” she said.

Polls are open until 8 p.m. Click here to find out where to vote.

Reporter Juliana Keeping contributed to this report. Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529.



Thu, Aug 5, 2010 : 9:12 p.m.

Sorry, meant to post this precinct's data...


Wed, Aug 4, 2010 : 7 a.m.

It turned out this unscientific polled was accurate - Heijt 84% of the votes, Lesko only 16%.

Mitch Ganian

Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 9:11 p.m.

Drawing conclusions about the direction of an election based on morning exit poll interviews has been regarded as an unacceptably manipulative journalistic practice for many years. The Ann Arbor News has a new name, but your standards remain unworthy of this town.


Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 5:55 p.m.

What I've noticed most during this election season were how many stories there were about Rick Snyder. There seemed to be far more about him than about any of the other candidates, indeed about all of them put together. Yet, Ann Arbor is predominately Democrat, not Republican. I wish that we'd have had more stories that reflect the local population. Still, if we end up with a Republican Governor, I'm hoping it will be Snyder. I'm voting for Bernero if he wins the primary, though.

Bill Wilson

Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 5:40 p.m.

@ Deb, I agree. It's sad to think of the tremendous damage that the Clintons did to this country.


Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 5:37 p.m.

It's a standard open primary's not a new thing. You seem to know a lo9t about Ann Arbor history, so you should know that's the kind of primary we have.

David Cahill

Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 5:06 p.m., what will you be doing to report the precinct-by-precint and race-by-race returns as they come in?


Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 4:57 p.m.

hopefully we will have a good independent candidate in Nov. I will not forgive the mayor saying (not the exact quote) "the maintenence on the infastructure was behind when I got here" He has been mayor for 10 years, how long does he need to catch up? Until the "great recession" taxes in the city went up as services got cut. Now taxes have dropped and services get cut. We do not need a underground parking structure or a 50 million dollar city hall. We need a bridge that isnt falling down. Instead of 1% for art, we need 1% for humanities. I would rather have tax dollars help with victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence, or feeding the hungry then painting pretty pictures or installing waterfalls. We need someone to dismantle the DDA, whose metal signs are as hideous as the Halo was at michigan stadium. Someone to cut a better deal when it comes to running our parking structures. The mayor is by no means a terrible person, I bet hes a pretty good guy actually. (well other then pulling his signs out of peoples yards, thats just childish), but to say he is doing excellent or a great job because A2 has fared better then other Michigan cities, is just foolish. Although the u of m is the largest landowner in the city and the county and dose not pay any taxes it does generate a shipton (yes thats the scientific term) of dollars for the area. As most other cities in the areas supporting industries took nose dives so did their cities. That won't happen here becaue of the U. However, just because we know things arent that bad, and are unlikely to get worse, instead of saying the mayor has done a great job, shouldnt we be looking at how much better we could be doing? Instead of comparing ourselves to Ypsi and willow run, we should be comparing ourselves to the cities it seems like the residents want to be like, for example; boulder, co., berkely, ca., madison, wi., etc. Just because its ok now dosent mean we couldnt be doing a much better job.

Jay Allen

Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 4:32 p.m.

Lokalisierung is dead on. This entire chain is confusing. To the brainiac who said to run as a republican.......Really? In a LIBERAL University city? Just more worthless rhetoric from the left.


Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 4:19 p.m.

"that half of the city voting Republican is not allowed to vote for the Democrats running for city offices..." This is confusing on so many levels.


Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 4:15 p.m.

The Ann Arbor Chronicle has been publishing much more balanced coverage. The First Ward City Council race, according to the Chronicle, indicated Suni Kailaspathy was encouraged by the large turnout of newly registered and Chinese-American voters at the polls.


Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 2:58 p.m. did not run an exit poll. They talked to people and presented some of the quotes. Inside the Hall is correct that the results from exit polls are not released in the middle of the day or before noon because of the potential to influence voters - why bother to vote for x - they are getting smashed; or my candidate is way ahead, no need for me to vote. might as well have run a poll on their site for the local candidates. I notice that they did for governor, but not for the other races. Exit polls usually gather additional information about the voter: race, age, gender, political leaning, religion, income, and a few attitude questions about important issues (environment, war, etc). For a local election the issues would likely be about new City Hall, income tax, convention center, maybe Huron Hills golf course. The results of exit polls are pretty informative. But, as mentioned above, I don't believe was really doing an exit poll. And, finally, I'm sure their convenience interview poll suffered from exit polls sometimes do. The interviewer approaches who looks friendly, like the interviewer, etc. rather than every 20th exiting voter.


Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 2:57 p.m.

Ann Arbor is the ONLY city to live in, in Michigan! Celebrate the good times ahead and vote John Hieftje and Virg Bernero! Yahoo!


Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 2:30 p.m.

@xmo, really? I didn't know that "pro-business" was a candidate. I always thought it was an empty platitude.


Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 2:28 p.m.

@John, I could not agree with you more. Ann Arbor is the best city in Michigan to live in. Let's keep it that way by not voting in a lose cannon.


Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 2:28 p.m.

It sure is hard to tell who the Ann Arbor News (and now favors in elections. Although I'm a strong believer in the importance of a daily paper and was sad to see the News essentially go under, pieces like this make that sympathy hard to maintain.


Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 2:25 p.m.

I Voted PRO_BUSINESS in Ann Arbor and Michigan. The city and the state are headed in the wrong direction and we need to make U-turn!

David Cahill

Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 2:08 p.m.

Gee, nobody from was at precinct 1-6 this morning to talk to me as I left, having voted for Kailasapathy. Kailasapathy was endorsed by the Michigan Daily on Sunday. Here is what they had to say about her: But Sumi Kailasapathy also has a remarkable record in human rights, most notably as a leading student organizer at the University of Jaffna during the 1980s, where she co-founded a womens shelter for victims of the militarys sexual violence and fought for human rights. Now a certified public accountant, Kailasapathy, more than any other challenger this year, demonstrates an incredibly strong grasp of the citys finances and the skeptical voice the Council needs to keep its spending in check, ask the right questions and ensure that all available options are explored. While Smiths record on human services is indeed commendable, Kailasapathy too shares this passion for helping societys less fortunate members. More importantly, she demonstrates an immense knowledge of the issues at play in this election, including the citys complex financial picture. She argues enthusiastically and rightfully for the need for independent voices on the Council. The Daily endorses Sumi Kailasapathy for City Council in Ward 1.


Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 2:01 p.m.

Meh. I don't care who wins or loses; I just want the robocalls to stop...


Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 1:56 p.m.

@bunnyabbot, the grass is not always greener on the other side. We have lived in AA and a dozen other cities throughout the country. This is the best so far.


Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 1:47 p.m.

"There have been studies done that such articles or hints of exiting polling can actually discourage people from voting because they conclude their vote will not matter." Please provide us all with links to these studies.


Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 1:39 p.m.

I've lived in A2 on and off for 32 years, and continuously for the past 20, and think our city has never been better. Is it perfect? No, but Hieftje is moving us in the right direction. To me, Lesko is a loose cannon and not the kind of person I want holding the keys to our city.


Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 1:36 p.m.

Ms Murray: It being common has nothing to with the ethics of it. There have been studies done that such articles or hints of exiting polling can actually discourage people from voting because they conclude their vote will not matter. This is especially true when time zones and staggered polling hours are in play. In the age of internet where information is available at the speed of now media outlets need to have a heightened sense of ethics of election day. Obviously, fails in this regard.


Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 1:33 p.m.

@blessed, I assume you're referring to the christian theocracy people keep referring to that apparently got left out in my high school's government class?


Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 1:12 p.m.

The last thing ann arbor needs is hetfje. What a2 needs is fiscal responsibility! If you re elect these incumbent chuckleheads then A2 gets what it deserves. But if you really want business to be attracted to A2. If you want fiscal resposibility?.?.? Then vote these jokers out unless you want your city finances to be continuosly trashed. VOTE LESKO!


Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 1:09 p.m.

Oh, says exit polls are the norm for news reporting. Yes, but, is this an exit poll? If so, then what was the scientific method that informed your polling? We'd love to know? How did you select which precincts to go to? How did you select how much time to spend there? How did you select which voters to approach?


Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 1:07 p.m.

@Barb - the only silver lining in this news coverage is that perhaps journalism professors can use Stanton's election coverage portfolio as a teaching tool to instruct students on how a reporter can easily cross the line into thinking he is being neutral when he in fact is not. An exit poll interview by a reporter is not a controlled study. It's a series of chance conversations with the early morning voters. How many voters were interviewed to earn the headline on this story? "More than 10 early voters in Ann Arbor favor incumbents...." "More than 25 early voters in Ann Arbor..." "X-number of voters at subset of total polling sites approached by staff between the hours of ____ and ____ said they were in favor of the incumbents...."


Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 12:50 p.m.

@aaparent, you raise some valid concerns... exactly the kind the others raise when discussing exit polls. is doing nothing but being consistent.


Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 12:45 p.m.

First of all, I'm a "pleased with the direction" voter and to answer your question I'ved lived here for 13 years. And just as Mitch said I stayed here after graduating from U of M because I love this city and love the direction it has gone in since I moved here in 97. I'm also an employed hippie who wakes up before 7 AM. I voted at 8 this morning. This city will only continue to get better.


Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 12:45 p.m.

"I am disappointed that has a headline implying that the incumbents are ahead before the polls have closed." You have seen election coverage before today right...on any level?


Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 12:43 p.m.

This headline should be changed until the pools closed. I am disappointed that has a headline implying that the incumbents are ahead before the polls have closed. Is Ryan Stanton related to the mayor or jockeying for a job with the mayor if re-elected? I do not support the mayor or Pat Lesko, but think we need a city government reporter and editors at who are able to print stories that are more neutral and objective. This is story would be similar to a sports reporter taking an exit poll at a U-M football game and reporting that U-M football fans love the Wolverines. In an Ann quick interview of voters at "various" polling sites at a particular time of day, the voters approached by a reporter said they are in favor of the incumbents. What is the total number of voters interviewed? Why is this story being printed before the polls closed? Should voters not bother heading out to the polls since the incumbents are going to win anyway?


Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 12:33 p.m.

And @Mitch wins for being the first person to insert Godwin's Law into the discussion. Kudos! It wasn't a "poor decision" on Hieftje's part. It was childish act based on his inability to deal with dissent. Of course Mr. Hieftje is a nice guy. I don't think anyone's debating that. Or even his passion about Ann Arbor. I just don't think he makes good decisions that make sense for the long-term health of our city.


Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 12:27 p.m.

Lesko can go bye-bye!


Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 12:26 p.m.

@Forever21. Have you read the law? I might assume that you haven't. So break the mold of a typical Democrat and stand up for Americans and force non-Americans to follow our laws if they want to live here. So far off topic, just pray for changes to our State and Federal goverment to start to bring things back to where our founding Fathers planned it to be.


Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 12:21 p.m.

This is a piece that should be in the "opinion" section and not presented as "news." This is the kind of biased, impressionistic posting that imitates cable news, not journalism. We all know which interest this blog represents. I suppose no one should be surprised....

Concerned Citizen

Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 12:18 p.m.

@goblue7182 I'm an Independent voter. I am not agreeing with or not agreeing with the Arizona law itself. I am saying that the resolution it is a waste of time and resources. You don't think that there are more important local issues to be spending time on. The resolution is not going to make one bit of difference in the big picture. Local governments are elected to govern locally. If the government of the city Ann Arbor had any impact on a national or global level, I would argue that their are much more important issues to pass a resolution against.


Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 12:18 p.m.

Early voters favor incumbents because early voters tend to be employed. The crazy drug addicts and hippies that oppose incumbents don't wake up until noon.


Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 12:18 p.m.

OK...I'm voting for the incumbent, also, so my comments are not releated to my candidate being "cheated". But, I must say, the bias on during the course of this election would be laughable, if not for the seriousness of the issue -- who to elect as our leaders in these changing times. Ryan Stanton's articles have read more like campaign releases than journalism. Seriously, these articles have made my blood boil. How is it "news" to publish an article in the middle of a voting day essentially saying that the incumbents are going to win? Go to other news sites. On no other reputable site will you find any hints of who is winning the election because reputable news sources don't want to do anything that might even theoretically effect someone's motivation to vote. Here, we get an article reporting an unscientific survey that Ann Arbor voters are favoring the incumbents. I'm embarrassed that this is the nature of "journalism" in Ann Arbor today. We are all worse off when political reporting turns into biased political cheerleading.


Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 12:13 p.m.

I'm also a non-Republican who agrees with Erik. My going with incumbents was a lot more "lesser of the evils" than "pleased with direction". I suspect I'm not alone. I'm wondering how long the typical "pleased with direction" voter has actually lived here.


Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 12:13 p.m.

@blessed, you've completely missed the boat on the debate for the Arizona Immigration law. I'm not happy that the city council has decided to devote even the littlest amount of time to it, but still, before you go off spouting terrible analogies like that you might want to make sure that they are at least applicable to the situation.


Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 12:01 p.m.

Sorry, it happened Friday, July 23 and not last Friday...


Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 12:01 p.m.

@goblue: The Mayor took his sign down from my yard and other neighbors in the First Ward last Friday due to not wanting his sign next to Sumi's. I witnessed it, along with several neighbors. He spoke to me beforehand about his reasonings, but I felt very uncomfortable.


Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 11:48 a.m.

I question the ethics of an article like this while the polls are open.


Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 11:38 a.m.

Maybe we aren't that happy but we think the person running for mayor is a lot worse than what we already have? As far as the rest of new people running, they did not help themselves at all by aligning themselves with Lesko.


Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 11:35 a.m.

Lesko is wasting our time. Not that Eric is wrong about the Arizona thing. They should leave that alone since all they are doing is making people follow the law. What is wrong with that? Did you get offended when you had to show your ID today to vote? Enough of that, anyway The current Mayor/City Council is doing a fine job.

Ryan J. Stanton

Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 11:34 a.m.

@townie I assume you're implying that she must be somehow related to Marcia Higgins? That was my first question and the answer I got was "no."


Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 11:32 a.m.

Hilarious "Fifth Ward resident Bryan Weinert, who cast his ballot at Slauson Middle School, said the choice was easy today. He voted to reelect both Hieftje and Hohnke." Uh, is this the same Bryan Weinert who was/is the "manager of resource recovery" for the city of Ann Arbor?


Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 11:31 a.m.

Well, if you want to grind all of City Hall to a stop and start moving backward, vote for Lesko, Eaton and crew. Just ONE example: They have never even bothered to research work being done at City Hall or WHY the budgets are divided the way they are, yet feel free to attack everything being done by staff(other than the Fire fighters). Eaton is EXACTLY like Lesko, prone to distortions and outright lies when he doesnt agree with the actual facts. From personal experience, there are no simple 'agree to disagree' conversations with him (or Lesko). Lesko even had the nerve to attack numerous City staff members BY NAME on her blog without even asking the staff member(s) for verification of the story. Is that how she will base decisions as mayor??

Urban Sombrero

Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 11:24 a.m.

Honestly, I felt like the mayoral race was a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" type of thing. I voted, but I still felt eerily like I'd made a deal with the devil. Both candidates, in my opinion, were inferior.


Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 11:24 a.m.

@townie - good catch! :)


Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 11:23 a.m.

Amy HIGGINS? Are you really trying to pass this off as a random snippet from unbiased exit polling?


Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 11:21 a.m.

How about by his own admission... I posted a link to the article from 2 days ago where it was discussed but it's being moderated. And they're not his opponents' - they're his yard signs. He won't allow his yard signs to be placed on a lawn near someone else's that he doesn't agree with. I think this race has shown a side of Mr. Hieftje that is not very mature. And I think it's evidence that dissension among his ranks is not tolerated which frankly, explains a lot.


Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 11:18 a.m.

Ok the day is upon us and I am very anxious to see the numbers when they are complete. I know soime people on here love to act like everyone can't stand the current Mayor and Council but in real life most people are very pleased. I saet Lesko top number at 11%...interested to see how far off I am. Anyway, I'll be off to vote in the next hour or two.


Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 11:17 a.m.

Seriously? Do you even pay attentions?


Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 11:14 a.m.

Do you have any evidence or pictures proving your statement that Mayor Hieftje was removing opponents yard signs?


Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 11:09 a.m.

"... they appear to be saying they want to keep Mayor John Hieftje and all three incumbent Ann Arbor City Council members who are up for reelection today in office." That is exactly what I said on my exit from the poling place... : )


Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 11:04 a.m.

That's funny Erik, because as an Ann Arbor resident, I support the resolution against Arizona's racist policies, support the distracted driver proposal, and generally am very happy with the direction of our great city. Maybe you should run for office in Ann Arbor as Republican, we'll see how far you get.


Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 11:02 a.m.

if people think a2 is heading in the right direction I am afraid for this place and really glad I have my five year plan to leave the joke of this place. Lived here my whole life and I am starting to hate it here.

Concerned Citizen

Tue, Aug 3, 2010 : 10:56 a.m.

Good job Ann Arbor. Keep the people on the counsil who waste time on things like resolutions about Arizona rather than focusing on things that will make an impact. Oh yeah no cell phones or GPS units at all, that's a good one too.