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Posted on Wed, Aug 5, 2009 : 1:07 a.m.

Stephen Kunselman celebrates six-vote victory in Ann Arbor City Council race; Leigh Greden calls for recount

By Ryan J. Stanton

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(This story has been revised to correct an error of fact.)

In between high fives and handshakes, Stephen Kunselman clanked jars of beer with friends and campaign supporters as he celebrated victory at Casa Dominick's bar Tuesday night.

The former 3rd Ward Ann Arbor city councilman will most likely return to office after beating incumbent Leigh Greden by six votes in Tuesday's Democratic primary, according to unofficial results from the City Clerk's Office. LuAnne Bullington, another contender for the 3rd Ward seat, finished last.

The total vote count was Kunselman 511, Greden 505 and Bullington 379.

In the city's 5th Ward, voters picked incumbent Democrat Mike Anglin over challenger Scott Rosencrans by a margin of nearly 2-to-1.

“I'm very overwhelmed. It was a very close vote, but we've taken down the incumbent,” said Kunselman, an energy management liaison for the University of Michigan, who waged a campaign that was heavily critical of Greden and e-mails he sent at City Council meetings.

“This vote is reflective of where people want to take our City Council and that's in a new direction,” Kunselman said. “This was about who the incumbent really is, and when you're a politician, it's all about your character, being trusted. And I think that's what this election is about.”

Greden said he plans to request a recount.

“Initial results indicate that Mr. Kunselman is ahead by six votes. I believe strongly in the democratic process, but with a margin of less than one-half of 1 percent, it's appropriate to request a recount,” he said, declining to comment further on the election.

Kunselman spoke out against Greden's use of a city-provided laptop to exchange e-mails with fellow council members during city meetings.

Several voters said after leaving polls they were voting Greden out of office because they considered the e-mails unprofessional and rude. Some of the e-mails poked fun at others, and some of them discussed city business and upcoming agenda items outside the public eye.

“I'd never vote for anybody who sat there and sent e-mails like that,” city resident Marjorie Barnett said of her reasons for voting against Greden and supporting Bullington.

Other residents said they voted against Greden because he supports putting a city income tax question on the November ballot.

Kunselman said his first priority in office is to restore public trust in city government and listen to the concerns of residents. He said he'll work hard to push for a city budget that maintains services for working class residents and fixes roads and infrastructure.

“I want to bring back the ice rinks I had when I was a kid,” added Kunselman, reminiscing on outdoor skating rinks the city used to provide, one of which was in Burns Park.

Greden was one of the leading proponents of putting a city income tax proposal on the November ballot for voters to consider. Because he won't officially step down from his council position until after the November general election, he'll still be able to push the issue, which Kunselman opposes.

Kunselman, currently unopposed as he advances to the November general election, would take office at the first City Council meeting after the November general election, assuming he doesn't lose to a write-in or independent candidate.

Tim Colenback, former chairman of the Ann Arbor City Democrats, called Kunselman's victory the biggest upset in Ann Arbor city politics in the last 30 years.

“I supported LuAnne, but I'm very happy Steve won,” he said while celebrating at Dominick's after the election results came in. “I think we need a change on the City Council.”

Bullington, though she lost, joined Anglin's reelection celebration at the Firefly Club, 637 S. Main St. She said she's just glad Greden is out of office.

“I hoped I won, but if I couldn't win, I wanted Steve to win, so I'm very happy for the city. Steve is a good, honest man and he'll do right,” she said. “I hope we see a change on City Council, such as spending more time attending to the business than e-mailing each other.”

About 11 percent of the 30,631 registered voters in the two wards with contested races cast ballots.

Anglin said he'll continue to be an advocate for residents on issues like trees, housing, the environment, transportation and other neighborhood concerns. He said he had more than 100 people helping him on his campaign, which he believes led him to victory.

“It was a big group effort. We had a platform that spoke to so many people that they responded to it,” he said. “What resonated in the community most was fiscal responsibility.”

Anglin said he's leaning against supporting a city income tax, but he hasn't made up his mind. He also continues to oppose the planned construction of a $55 million parking structure near the Ann Arbor District Library downtown. He said such spending doesn't seem prudent while talks of closing city parks, laying off firefighters and other service cuts are happening.

Anglin, who as of now is unopposed in November, said his primary focus in the next two years will be the city's budget, including looking for ways to improve the budget process and involving all council members.

Photos by Lon Horwedel of Ann
Top, Dana Barton, right, congratulates Stephen Kunselman at Dominick's in Ann Arbor during his victory party.
Bottom: Mike Anglin celebrates with his supporters at the Firefly Club in Ann Arbor.

Ryan Stanton covers government for He can be reached at (734) 623-2529 or


Fred Zimmerman

Fri, Aug 7, 2009 : 8:53 a.m.

It's disappointing that Mr. Greden is obfuscating his responsibility for his sudden lack of popularity: his unprofessional behavior at council meetings. As a member of the bar, he should know that more is expected, and as an accountable adult, he should man up and take full responsibility that his own behavior got him in this situation.


Wed, Aug 5, 2009 : 11:26 p.m.

STEVE YOU HOONER!! I dint agree with yer chicken-in-every-backyard agenda, but, otherwise, you da man! Ya gotta remember that Greden was smart enough to graduate from law school, pass the bar exam, and become a lawyer. So maybe he has a re-count loophole angle. I would not put it past him. Lawyers are sneaky, ya ken? That being said, I think yer gonna be declared DA WINNER and go on to greater fame serving on the City Council. Just do NOT accept or send any email when yer ON DUTY at Council Meetings. Ya dig? (Greden must be kicking himself all over fer the Blunder; Geeze, now it is doubtful that he will run to fill Rebekah Warren's soon-to-be-empty seat. Greden will have to forfeit that shot to either Hefty or Irwin. My money is on Hefty for that plum! (the question would be: who is more of a twerp? Irwin or Greden). Just thinking out loud here, ya dig?


Wed, Aug 5, 2009 : 2:51 p.m.

Bob & Jackie: Thanks for the good update (and clearing up the confusion on provisional ballots). I like my old paper, but nothing happens when I talk to it. Also, I like the chart embedded in the story. Well done.

Bob Wheaton

Wed, Aug 5, 2009 : 2:34 p.m.

TaylorMachine: I just talked to City Clerk Jackie Beaudry. She told me that there were no provisional ballots cast on Tuesday and that all ballots for voters who signed an affidavit were included in the vote totals reported. Provisional ballots are actually for cases where someone's name doesn't show up on the registered voter list. In that case the ballot is set aside for further examination. But, as I said, there were no such cases on Tuesday. Affidavits are for cases where a voter doesn't have a picture identification.


Wed, Aug 5, 2009 : 2:28 p.m.

Voters who signed the affidavits that they were not in possession of photo ID at the polling places were allowed to cast regular ballots in-precinct. This is different than the provisional ballot process for voters whose names do not appear on the voter registration list. We did not have any provisional ballots last night. Vivienne is correct that a recount is a hand-count of the ballots; the optical scan tabulators are not used. The recount is conducted at the Washtenaw County Clerk's Office.


Wed, Aug 5, 2009 : 2:23 p.m.

DDOT1962: To imply that a candidate is not honorable by requesting a recount - when he lost by SIX votes - is ridiculous.

Vivienne Armentrout

Wed, Aug 5, 2009 : 12:56 p.m.

I'd be pretty hypocritical if I didn't support Mr. Greden's right to a recount, since I requested one for a wider vote difference. Clarification: the ballots for a recount are counted by hand. One volunteer calls out the vote for a ballot and another records it. Observers from both candidates can watch the process. There are book-keeping procedures and if numbers don't add up, the vote is counted again. One complication is that if ballot boxes were not sealed properly, that precinct cannot be recounted. That happened in my contest with precinct 5-11.


Wed, Aug 5, 2009 : 12:18 p.m.

Does anyone know how or when the provisional ballots are counted? If you don't have your ID, you can still vote after signing an affidavit. If valid, your vote will be counted, but are they in the 511-505 tally?


Wed, Aug 5, 2009 : 11:08 a.m.

Gavin's confused about the butterfly ballot.


Wed, Aug 5, 2009 : 11 a.m.

Gavin? that was me, Moose who made that comment and I agree, voting is just one aspect of being a good citizen.


Wed, Aug 5, 2009 : 9:48 a.m.

As a sidebar: Isn't it grand when primary results become the election results? Who needs November? Win the primary... win the election... Ann Arbor!


Wed, Aug 5, 2009 : 9:45 a.m.

Ann Arbor is using an optical scanning system, so a recount just means putting putting ten scanners in a room and running 140 ballots through each one. That shouldn't take more than an hour or two, assuming the clerk's office can find ten people to feed ballots through. Of course, the scanning systems are extremely accurate, and Ann Arbor voters are more than smart enough to draw lines accurately on a ballot. Chances are pretty slim the vote totals will change with a recount.


Wed, Aug 5, 2009 : 9:34 a.m.

Sorry, LBH. An old customer service addage (who remembers those?) likely applies: negative word-of-mouth publicity from one irritated customer (constituent) will not be offset by any amount of positive PR spin. Unfortunately for LG, his good works were overshadowed by his loose (email) lips. So go ahead, be like LG, and insult the same voters that ousted him. The most mud always lands on the slinger.

Patti Smith

Wed, Aug 5, 2009 : 9:27 a.m.

Any idea on how much a recount will cost the city? Is it something that's really expensive? I imagine it would cost more if there had been more voters? And for that--shame on those who didn't vote! Whenever I feel like staying home on Election Day, I remember the stories about the women who were jailed for wanting voting rights and who subsequently went on a hunger strike. Some had tubes shoved down their throats and were force fed. After that, the least I can do is haul my butt 1.5 miles to my voting booth. Okay, TeacherPatti lecture is over for today :) Congrats Steve & Mike!!!

carey jernigan

Wed, Aug 5, 2009 : 9:26 a.m.

So glad that six votes can make a difference. Welcome back Steve.


Wed, Aug 5, 2009 : 9:23 a.m.

Let's get the history of Minnesota's 2008 Senate election right. The day after the election, the counts put Norm Coleman ahead. Minnesota's election law requires an automatic recount if the difference in votes is less than 0.5%. And if law didn't haven an automatic recount, would anyone have held it against Al Franken if he had requested it? It's only because of that recount that Al Franken ultimately won. So recounts in close elections protect the democratic process. In yesterday's election, the difference is less than 0.5%. A recount is the right thing to do, no matter whom you voted for, like, or dislike.

Gavin Eadie

Wed, Aug 5, 2009 : 9:22 a.m.

While the recent and easily understood issue with silly emails is an easy target, it's not the most important inappropriate City Council behavior deserving of attention. To satisfy DDOT's comment above, "Be respectful, inclusive, responsive and transparent." requires continuous citizen vigilance -- intermittent ballot box feedback is only one aspect of this.


Wed, Aug 5, 2009 : 9:18 a.m.

C'mon Ann Arbor, you have got to be kidding me. I believe the lesson here is, do not use your city council email account to express your frustration. That was dumb. Leigh has done a lot of great work for the City of Ann Arbor, which was largely overlooked in favor of hopping in the buzz words of the moment band wagon. It is unfortunate that so many voters decided to focus solely on the negative and cheer for a self branded victim/underdog that was pretty soundly defeated the last time he ran. I just hope that ethics and transparency dont include back yard goats, or well have untold hours of council time take up with more discussions regarding livestock.


Wed, Aug 5, 2009 : 9:16 a.m.

Incumbent Greden got smoked in terms of overall votes cast between three Dem candidates. Split Dem (not dim) voters sent the appropriate bon voyage. Politico lesson for the day: unseating an incumbent appears much easier in a 3-way (or more) race. Nice strategy councilman Kunselman (you 'da council man).


Wed, Aug 5, 2009 : 9:13 a.m.

Dear Mr. Greden: In Minnesota, Republican Senator Norm Coleman lost to Al Franken. Coleman demanded a recount, and ultimately, after many months, Franken was declared the victor. Mr. Greden, are you a Norm Coleman? During the recounts, Coleman continued to lose support and gain a nasty reputation. His political career was destroyed; Gov. Pawlenty, who supported Coleman saw his own political career damaged. Yesterday voters you currently represent went to the polls and cast a lot of votes for 2 other candidates. It is obvious you have lost the support of a majority of concerned voters. Be gracious, step aside while you retain some dignity.

Duane Collicott

Wed, Aug 5, 2009 : 8:21 a.m.

I have to think that if Greden had issued a sincere apology for his behavior he cold have swayed four voters over to his side, or six "dim bulbs" would have stayed home from the polls, and he would have retained his seat. There's a real lesson there. Great work, Ward 3 voters! Now it's up to the rest of us to dump the others who participated in the arrogant, illegal emailing next year.


Wed, Aug 5, 2009 : 7:17 a.m.

Wow, interesting to see how many 5th warders get out the vote! Why don't you do a story about this? I'm wondering if this is typical. You go, good folks in the 5th!!!


Wed, Aug 5, 2009 : 7:08 a.m.

Congratulation Mike and Steve! Now get to work and return local government to the people! Be respectful, inclusive, responsive and transparent.


Wed, Aug 5, 2009 : 6:42 a.m.

"Sure Leigh, you can have a recount. Just stand right there, this will only take a minute. One, two, three, four...nope, you still lost. Sorry" C'mon, Greden! A recount on less than 1400 total votes? Just do the honorable thing and congratulate your opponents on a competitive race and go home to do a little self-reflection.