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Posted on Tue, Nov 6, 2012 : 11:58 p.m.

Hieftje and Warpehoski beat opponents by landslide in Ann Arbor mayor and council races

By Ryan J. Stanton

This story has been updated.

After being re-elected to another two-year term Tuesday night, Mayor John Hieftje says he's excited about working with a new Ann Arbor City Council with a few new faces.

"I'm excited about Ann Arbor's prospects right now," he said. "I think we have the budget in good shape and it's an exciting time as we're coming out of the Great Recession. The job numbers are looking good — it looks like we're continuing to add jobs."

Hieftje, a Democrat, cruised to victory over Independent challenger Albert Howard with 84.1 percent of the vote.

Political newcomer Chuck Warpehoski, a Democrat who ran with Hieftje's endorsement in the 5th Ward, just as easily defeated Republican Stuart Berry.

He had 81.5 percent of the vote.


Albert Howard took on Democratic Mayor John Hieftje as an Independent in Tuesday's election.

Ryan J. Stanton |

There were no other contested races for council. Democratic incumbents Christopher Taylor and Margie Teall ran unopposed in the 3rd and 4th wards, respectively.

Two new faces to council — Democrats Sumi Kailasapathy and Sally Hart Petersen — also ran unopposed in Tuesday's election after beating challengers in the primary.

All incoming council members and the mayor will be sworn in and start new two-year terms later this month. That marks the start of a new council in which Hieftje loses some control and might have a harder time pushing forward his agenda, including a new Amtrak station on Fuller Road and an expansion of transit services.

Given that several outlying townships have opted out of the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority's countywide transit expansion, Hieftje said he's in favor of taking a step back and reassessing.

"I appreciate the fact that AATA has gotten the question out there and gotten that conversation going," he said. "This particular version of it doesn't look like it's going to work, but that's fine. Maybe we need to look more at the core — the cities and townships closest to Ann Arbor."

Instead of a true countywide expansion, Hieftje said it might make sense to start a new discussion with the city of Ypsilanti and Pittsfield and Ypsilanti townships about expanding transit services in the county's urban core, since other townships don't seem too interested in that.

Hieftje said he also wants to reassess the city's efforts around public art after the defeat of Tuesday's ballot proposal for a dedicated public art tax.

"The voters spoke on that one and I can understand why and what their feelings were," he said. "I think we'll need to take another look at art. There's going to have to be a conversation at City Council about how we can continue to be one of the leading cities in the state when it comes to art."

Hieftje has seen his political allies, who once held a strong majority on council, drop off over the past few years. In 2009, Stephen Kunselman ousted Leigh Greden, one of his allies.

Last year, Jane Lumm ousted Stephen Rapundalo, another of his allies. And in this year's primary, Petersen ousted Tony Derezinski, another of his allies.

Kailasapathy, a stanch critic of the mayor's agenda, also defeated Eric Sturgis, who had backing from the mayor's supporters, in the August primary this year.

Kailasapathy replaces Sandi Smith, one of two Hieftje allies who are stepping down voluntarily this month. The other one stepping down is Carsten Hohnke.

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.


Albert Howard

Thu, Nov 8, 2012 : 2:57 p.m.

This is nothing! We're just getting started!


Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 4:39 p.m.

I'm with you Rev. Howard!

Vivienne Armentrout

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 9:39 p.m.

A resolution to withdraw from the Act 196 authority and from the Public Transportation agreement (aka 4-party agreement) is on the council agenda for tomorrow

Alice Ralph

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 8:27 p.m.

One factor to keep in mind is that the ballot was unusually long. Several slots were not competitive in the partisan section. However, voters were encouraged to vote "straight ticket" to save time. In an abstract way, some vote totals hung on the coattails of the races that were tied to partisanship, rather than being a show of support for an individual candidate. In a non-national election, the picture would have been different, perhaps indicating a more telling level of support.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 7:53 p.m.

"Shouldn't Amtrak be funding the new station?" to quote my spouse. Art is a luxury especially when people's basements are at risk for flooding because there isn't enough sewage infrastructure. If we are supporting public art, it should at the very least be going to local artists. There was once a time where the City of Ann Arbor could afford a much more luxurious spending model, but that time isn't now.

Vivienne Armentrout

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 7:08 p.m.

The mayor's comments about transit are Delphic. Would we start again with a new configuration or try to somehow remodel the current failed effort under Act 196? One of the problems is that there are many transit issues besides the bus system. I attempted to summarize this in a recent post The finances just don't work out if all these ventures are to be funded through our Ann Arbor transit millage. There will be a lot to discuss.


Thu, Nov 8, 2012 : 2:49 p.m.

Ann Arbor millage is not the sole source of funding for AATA. Instead of scrapping all of the expensive work that has been done; why not work with the communities that need to support transit too.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 3:20 p.m.

yes you are right. better talk about art and how it is used, funded and spent. i am sorry but we all talk about tough times. tough times means we look at what is necessary and what is a luxury. my onion is that art falls in the later group. we sure do have better use for our money than art. sorry art people but this is the real world. we have other stuff that need help. if i had a choice i sure would put art as one of the lowest thing to think about. streets and crosswalk lights that have not yet been put up is one of them. the lights might save a person life. art does not even come close to saving a person life. so it is a no brainier.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 3 p.m.

The Hieftje will be next, as soon as we find a credible candidate to run against him. His time has passed. "Release the Hieftje!!" (from public office) will be the battle cry!


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 1:59 p.m.

42,000 votes speaks volumes. I am assuming there were more than 58,000 voters in A2.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 1:37 p.m.

"The voters spoke on that one and I can understand why and what their feelings were," he said. "I think we'll need to take another look at art. There's going to have to be a conversation at City Council about how we can continue to be one of the leading cities in the state when it comes to art." Thank you mayor for being so condescending about it. Conversation should be directed towards spending wisely and with the town's needs in mind, spending with the safety and security of the taxpayers in mind, spending OUR hard earned money in a manner that provides US with the best city services possible. Spend with the intention of cleaning up this city...not putting overpriced, imported, art over the potholes, crumbling infrastructure, and police/fire departments. Spend as though YOU earned the money. Like the rest of us.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 11:23 a.m.

It's a landslide for mayor because there was nobody else to vote for in this town that has effectively cut-off any competition with the ridiculous primary system. Here's what I want to know: of all eligible voters who did cast ballots, how many did not vote at all in the mayoral race?


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 8:57 p.m. 16K didn't vote for Hieftje...or suddenly not so landslide ish...

Ryan J. Stanton

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 11:42 a.m.

If I'm reading the county results correctly ... Ballots cast: 58,529 Hieftje votes: 42,255 Howard votes: 7,649 Write-ins: 335 Subtotal: 50,239 Undervote: 8,290

Unusual Suspect

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 11:38 a.m.

I didn't. There was nobody to vote for.


Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 5:30 a.m.

hard to lose when your opponent is, well, not a contender. with joy i look forward to a new term of jollies with mayor hieftje. hopefully he wont do too much more damage.

Kai Petainen

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 5:10 a.m.

congrats to the mayor!

Kai Petainen

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 : 6:13 a.m.

whether i agree or disagree with the mayor... i respect the voting process... .... and i believe in wishing a sincere congrats. hate my comment all you like, but it is respectful to wish congrats.