Margie Teall faces second challenger in 4th Ward Ann Arbor City Council race
Margie Teall, Ann Arbor's incumbent 4th Ward council member, potentially faces challenges from two attorneys with backgrounds in labor law in the Aug. 3 Democratic primary.
Fourth Ward resident Jeremy Kennedy, who works for a law firm in Detroit, has pulled nominating petitions to seek Teall's seat. Attorney Jack Eaton, who practices law in Southfield, also announced his candidacy last month.
Kennedy, a 33-year-old native of Grand Rapids, said he came to Ann Arbor as an undergraduate at the University of Michigan in 1995 and has lived here most of the last 15 years. After graduating from U-M's law school in December 2001, and marrying his wife Karen, Kennedy said he decided to stay rooted in Ann Arbor and believes the next step is getting involved in city politics.
"I've always had an interest in politics and over the past year or so, I just decided I really need to get more involved," he said. "It's one thing to say you need to change things, but it's another thing to step up and work to make the community a better place and that's what I'm looking to do."
Kennedy said he brings with him six years of experience working in municipal law for the city of Westland, from 2002 to 2008. After that, he worked as an attorney for Masco Corp. in Adrian. Since December, he has worked in employment law for the Miller Canfield firm in Detroit.
In Westland, Kennedy said he worked closely with the City Council and its various boards and commissions. He said he could bring that perspective and new ideas to Ann Arbor.
"Politics and public service has always been an interest of mine — I want to try to make a difference," he said. "I'm not sure if the City Council as a whole has done enough. I'm not saying they've done a bad job. I think Ann Arbor is a great city and it's one of the best cities in the state, if not the country. But when I look around, I'm just not sure that there isn't more that we could do. I decided to run to see if maybe we can get some new ideas in there and maybe bring in some of the ideas that I saw when I was working in Westland."
Kennedy said it doesn't seem like the city takes enough advantage of the asset it has in the University of Michigan. He said he's discouraged to see Ann Arbor struggle to retain bright young students after they graduate from U-M.
"It struck me as odd and it's one of the things, if I'm elected, I'd like to work on changing," he said, adding that he wants to work on developing more jobs in Ann Arbor. "I think we need to look at the whole structure of city government and say, 'What can we change to help bring people here?'"
Kennedy said another driving reason he decided to seek office is the time he spent unemployed last year. He said Masco laid him off in April, and it's only been since December that he has been working for Miller Canfield on a temporary basis.
"I had a lot of free time on my hands, so I had a lot of time to look around and see what it's like and how it's affecting people out there," he said. "And more than just myself, everybody knows somebody (with employment struggles). But when you're out there and you feel it firsthand, you think, 'What can I do to make it better?'"
The 4th Ward encompasses the southwest portion of Ann Arbor. Click here to view a map of the ward boundaries.