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Posted on Mon, May 21, 2012 : 1:01 p.m.

Election 2012: Mayor John Hieftje's only challenger disqualified from running as Republican

By Ryan J. Stanton

Albert Howard has been disqualified from running as a Republican against Democratic Mayor John Hieftje this year, but he's not counting himself out.

He pulled petitions on Friday to run as an Independent and has until July 19 to file to be placed on the November ballot. Hieftje has no other challengers right now.

City Clerk Jacqueline Beaudry confirmed Howard didn't turn in enough valid signatures by the May 15 deadline to run as a partisan candidate.


Albert Howard and his children gathering petition signatures in downtown Ann Arbor recently.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Howard turned in nominating petitions before the deadline to run as a Republican, but the city clerk's staff determined he didn't have enough valid signatures.

Mayoral candidates must submit 50 valid signatures from registered voters in each of the city’s five wards for a total of 250 signatures.

While Howard had more than 50 signatures from the 1st Ward, only 44 were determined to be from valid registered voters.

Howard and his wife, Ingrid, work together as pastors at Ann Arbor Different Church, where Howard is known for making prophecies.

A lifelong Ann Arbor resident and 1984 graduate of Huron High School, Howard waged a campaign for president of the United States in 2008, believing he was instructed by the "Angel of the Lord" to run against Hillary Clinton.

He later waged a campaign for the Ann Arbor school board last year but pulled only 3.5 percent of the vote.

Howard and his wife have eight children, all of whom joined him while collecting petition signatures in Ann Arbor.

He tweeted this on Monday: "#Reasons2Run for public office/purpose in a time capsule/and it's like fire shut up in my bones. Jeremiah 20:9 #theocratic #backtothebasics."

Hieftje has been mayor since 2000. He was last re-elected in November 2010, pulling 82 percent of the vote compared to Independent challenger Steve Bean's 17.6 percent.

He also fended off Democratic challenger Patricia Lesko in the August 2010 primary with 83.9 percent of the vote compared to Lesko's 15.6 percent.

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.



Thu, May 24, 2012 : 4:17 p.m.

I'm willing to vote for anyone that is against making Jackson into 3 lanes. Other than A. Howard that is. Anybody but Hieftje will get my vote!


Tue, May 22, 2012 : 10:15 p.m.

This is the only challenger to the current spendthrift?

Steve Hendel

Tue, May 22, 2012 : 11:44 a.m.

I think Jane Lumm will eventually run. I always used to vote Dem, but geez, this guy needs some competition, and I don't mean the flame-spouting kind he had 2 years ago.

say it plain

Tue, May 22, 2012 : 1:54 p.m.

Yeah, if you mean Lesko with the "flame-spouting" comment, I agree. Bean seemed reasonable though... Hieftje has been brilliant at convincing people that somehow he's irreplaceable. It might have something to do with the clear indications we get as citizens that there is so much he's hiding, if someone comes in and shines the light of day on his operations the past 10 years we'd all want to avert our eyes. Lesko was trying to flame-throw him out and that was not a great tack to take (besides of course all the style issues that came up). Heiftje comes off as calm and leader-like in contrast, and that plays in his favor. We need a smart, calm, effective-seeming candidate, who can provide evidence that he or she can work well with various issues and people, and who seems very *trust* worthy...thereby able to credibly point out how the mayor has been deflective.


Tue, May 22, 2012 : 11:04 a.m.

I feel sorry for the residents of Ann Arbor who apparently are stuck with another two years with their Mayor. If no opponent exists, can they write in "None Of The Above" like in the movie Brewster's Millions?


Mon, May 21, 2012 : 11:25 p.m.

Bring back Dave Adgate who ran a few years ago!


Mon, May 21, 2012 : 9:49 p.m.

Hieftje is clearly looking to make a career out of his elected position as mayor. I don't know about this challenger, but I think it is high time he step aside so we can see someone else run this city. He's getting wayyyy too confortable in his chair.


Mon, May 21, 2012 : 9:35 p.m.

Four more years...............can hardly wait...............

Ryan J. Stanton

Mon, May 21, 2012 : 11:42 p.m.

Hieftje is running for another two-year term, not four years.


Mon, May 21, 2012 : 9:04 p.m.

I'm disappointed that we won't get to see Prophet Howard's planned changes for the Big House: "A spirit of stagnation settles over the city of Ann Arbor, MI. God is waiting for His bride to know her purpose in Him and not in the religious denominational mold. God spoke to me about the precious idols that have been severely curtailed or demolished. Namely the Ann Arbor News and the bankruptcy of Borders Books. He wants the prophetic decree to go forth that Michigan Stadium is no longer relevant in the natural realm. The multi-billionaire dollar corporation University of Michigan will begin to lose significant influence in the community at large and internationally. God is sovereignly positioning a large scale event to take place in the stadium. Michigan Stadium will not be known as the 'Big House' or the 'Harvard of the East' but as the 'Artery of Soteria' which pumps out the pure blood of the Lamb cholesterol free and unclogged to the nations." See:


Mon, May 21, 2012 : 8:34 p.m.

He should rename his church to "Ann Arbor does it up Different Church". I'd vote for that.

say it plain

Tue, May 22, 2012 : 1:42 p.m.

Such a roll with the funnies @Brad :-)


Mon, May 21, 2012 : 8:31 p.m.

@Dave Cahill How enlightened of you Davey. These last 12 years of defacto unopposed Hieftjeism makes the rest of us yearn for some sort of alternative however. Even if he is a... (cough) Christian.


Mon, May 21, 2012 : 8:05 p.m.

Nothing says "democracy" like the mayor winning an uncontested election. This town is like a banana-republic dictatorship.


Mon, May 21, 2012 : 10:22 p.m.

Why don't you run then?


Mon, May 21, 2012 : 9:14 p.m.

Its not like IS one.... Any single viable candidate running against Hieftje would that democrat, independent, or Republican....but if you have no viable other candidates to vote for, there you have it....


Mon, May 21, 2012 : 8:04 p.m.

Sounds like we are in the south during Reconstruction! i.e after the war between the states


Mon, May 21, 2012 : 7:37 p.m.

Someone please please please please file to run !!!! Please!!!!


Mon, May 21, 2012 : 7:25 p.m.

The funny thing is that it is more peculiar to see a Republican run for office in Ann Arbor than a prophesier.

David Cahill

Mon, May 21, 2012 : 6:59 p.m.

It's always good to see a theocrat run.


Mon, May 21, 2012 : 8:54 p.m.

On the bright side, at least he acknowledges being a theocrat. :-)


Mon, May 21, 2012 : 6:51 p.m.

I dream of the day a decent candidate with the potential to actually be elected runs against the mayor. This is not a personal poke at Mr. Howard. I just don't think he has the skills to be effective. That being said, please don't delete me. If someone can say, "hit job journalism", than my comment should stand.


Mon, May 21, 2012 : 6:19 p.m.

What does this guy do for a living again?


Mon, May 21, 2012 : 8:53 p.m.

Interesting question, Gee. How does one support a family of 8 by leading a church without any followers?


Mon, May 21, 2012 : 5:20 p.m.

Now you would think a guy that makes prophecies would've seen that coming.

say it plain

Mon, May 21, 2012 : 5:53 p.m.

Lol @Brad... I prophesize that Hieftje will win again this time, sigh... That said, I was one of the 17.6% who voted for the independent Bean who opposed him last time (Lesko was unelectable, unfortunately, given the reports about her that appeared not only here, but also elsewhere)... Please, someone electable, step forward and run as an independent (of course, running as a Republican could never work in Ann Arbor lol, another potential prophesy missed?!)... No disrespect to Mr. Howard, just, please, someone????

Alan Goldsmith

Mon, May 21, 2012 : 5:15 p.m.

"He also fended off Democratic challenger Patricia Lesko in the August 2010 primary with 83.9 percent of the vote compared to Lesko's 15.6 percent." Oh who could ever forget THAT election and the hit job journalism?