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Posted on Tue, Jul 13, 2010 : 2:22 p.m.

Newcombe Clark files to run for Ann Arbor City Council as independent candidate in 5th Ward

By Ryan J. Stanton

Newcombe Clark made his candidacy official today in the Ann Arbor City Council's 5th Ward race, turning in 159 petition signatures to have his name placed on the November ballot.

Clark, who is running as an independent, will face off against two other candidates in November: Republican John Floyd and the winner of the Aug. 3 Democratic primary matchup between incumbent Carsten Hohnke and challenger Lou Glorie.


Newcombe Clark had Ann Arbor Transportation Authority officials last week take down this billboard bearing his image now that he is officially a candidate for the Ann Arbor City Council in the 5th Ward.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Clark is one of the development partners behind two recently defeated housing projects in Ann Arbor: Heritage Row and the Moravian.

Both projects were proposed for the Germantown neighborhood immediately south of downtown, but failed to get the eight votes needed from the City Council to move forward. Council members who opposed the projects, including Hohnke, said the developments were out of character with the neighborhood.

Clark announced his intentions of running against Hohnke in the week after the Moravian's defeat. He now has a campaign website at

"I can barely spell my own name — I can't expect other people to remember it," he jokes of shortening "Newcombe" to "Nuke."

Clark said he'll talk more about why he's running and lay out a detailed platform after the Aug. 3 primary. But he said his candidacy is a direct response to his frustrations with city government, which he believes are shared by many others. He said he feels the city is missing the mark in cases where it claims to have values, including in housing and transportation.

"We're lucky enough to have people who want to invest in this community, yet we can't put the pieces together," he said. "I think there are some deficiencies in the process and the execution, if not the talent and skill sets of council members, which are mainly driven by, unfortunately, political forces. Things aren't getting done that we know should be done because of perceived political realities. My hope is that my campaign, which I plan to run differently than most, can try to break free that log jam."

Clark said he's making two campaign promises: He will only serve one two-year term and then step down, and he will donate his entire council salary — a little less than $16,000 — to local charities.

"In two years, my accomplishments are limited and I do plan on focusing almost exclusively my efforts on housing and transportation," he said.

In preparation of his anticipated candidacy, Clark approached the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority last week and had the agency take down a billboard bearing his likeness in front of Pioneer High School. Clark said he didn't think it was appropriate for a city taxpayer-funded agency to promote his image while he campaigned for a city elected office.

Clark grew up on North Ashley Street with his mother. After graduating from Pioneer High School in 1999, he entered U-M's School of Engineering. In 2004, he graduated with degrees in mechanical engineering and Japanese language and culture.

In 2005, he formed Bluestone Realty Advisors, a local commercial real estate brokerage and consulting firm. In 2006, he was recognized as one of the "20 in their 20s" inaugural class by Crain’s Detroit Business for his professional and philanthropic contributions.

In 2008, Clark became the founding publisher of Concentrate Magazine. Exiting in 2009, he took on a part-time consulting position at Ghostly International, an Ann Arbor-based music and design firm with offices in New York, Los Angeles and Berlin.

In April, Clark became vice president for office and industrial brokerage at Jones Lang LaSalle, a global firm with an office in Detroit. He serves clients in Ann Arbor and western Michigan and specializes in landlord and tenant representation.

A downtown resident, Clark currently is working on his MBA at the University of Michigan. He is past president of the Main Street Area Association and currently serves on the board of the Downtown Development Authority, in addition to a long list of other civic involvement.

The deadline for independent candidates to file for office is Thursday.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529.


Aaron Wolf

Mon, Jul 19, 2010 : 7:07 a.m.

I strongly support whatever gets rid of the obnoxious (non)-celebrity bus advertising garbage.


Wed, Jul 14, 2010 : 11:45 a.m.

You have my support Newcombe...good luck and i'll be an advocate.


Wed, Jul 14, 2010 : 11:40 a.m.

I can't think of a better reason to run then "sour grapes". Someone didn't get what they wanted and now they're mad about it...and no better campaign slogan then Newcomb's initial statement: "I don't want to be on City Council, but everyone has to make sacrifices". Somehow I doubt he'll "sacrifice" much if he were to actually win. Not to mention, how could he possibly be an effective member of council when he'll have to abstain from a large portion of the development votes given his interest in so many of them. Newcomb, we get think your a big deal...get over the implosion of your little development plan, grow up and move on. Carsten is a great guy, sharp as hell and will be far more effective then you'll ever be simply because he has tact. You won't like every decision, but no one ever said we are all entitled to getting everything we want...MAKE SACRIFICES.


Wed, Jul 14, 2010 : 9:50 a.m.

I'm impressed with Mr. Clark's background and am inclined to support him, given the reactionary representation the 5th Ward currently has. However, nothing gets done on Council without 6 votes, so I would urge him to think longer term than a mere 2 years. It requires cooperation and relationship-building to muster those 6 votes. Being a lone wolf won't cut it.


Wed, Jul 14, 2010 : 8:57 a.m.

From Clark's Concentrate blog: "The quickest shortcut to the chairmans office in your own job is having powerful and influential allies and customers singing your praise due to your astounding performance on the board which they serve on with you. Im a real estate salesman who serves on over a half dozen non-profit boards and commissions. My fellow board members just happen to be presidents and CEOs who have turned out to be some of my best customers and professional contacts over the years. Who said altruism is dead." Altruism: "Unselfish regard for or devotion to the welfare of others." --Merriam-Webster


Wed, Jul 14, 2010 : 7:54 a.m.

So Clark has been pushing for years, with his involvement in the DDA, Mainstreet Association and probably lots of other organizations I am unaware of, for issues related to housing and transportation. He then takes the bold step of investing himself in a couple of projects that will help address those issues. Which of course must be profitable ventures to actually occur and logically he would profit as well. Then after continuing to see Council act in ways he disagrees with, he decides to run for office. This is what is great about our country and system of self governance. Every one of us has the same opportunity to do what Clark is doing, run for elected office to address issues we think the current leadership is failing at. It is disappointingly childish to see the stone throwers attacking someone who is willing to take some initiative simply because he happens to have a fundamentally different perspective on an issue from them.

rusty shackelford

Wed, Jul 14, 2010 : 7:50 a.m.

I don't understand the whole "tantrum" thing or juvenile language directed at Clark. He's like 30 years old, he founded and runs a successful business and has served in numerous capacities in civic service in the past. If you disagree with him that council has become dysfunctional to the point of absurdity, that's fine, continue to vote for the man who refused to compromise on a good project and thus ensured a worse one. But there's really no reason to talk about Clark like he's some kind of childish buffoon just because he has the audacity to run for city government in the town where he's lived his whole life.


Wed, Jul 14, 2010 : 7:46 a.m.

For those that complain about him, at least he has to be given credit for taking actions to make a change. Others are more comfortable simply complaining from their lounge chair.


Wed, Jul 14, 2010 : 7:39 a.m.

@suswhit - I'm not a big Newcombe fan, but he is doing the OPPOSITE of a toddler tantrum he is taking productive action, not just complaining on a blog. Like it or not, that is democracy, just like the fact a couple of neighbors could swing Carsten's vote instead of him looking at the facts. Carsten has been weak on Council, caving to a small minority of vocal people instead of looking at the good for the whole City. Nuke may not be the answer, but at least he is willing to put some time(only 2 years)in AND donate his entire salary to charity. Let's see Kunselman(who wouldnt even take a pay cut) match that!!


Wed, Jul 14, 2010 : 7:21 a.m.

Speechless, you obviously never take the bus! AATA has these giant signs in the very few bus shelters we have with photos of "celebrity bus riders" that I NEVER see on any bus during my 20+ bus trips per week! These photos replaced useful information like time schedules & maps!


Wed, Jul 14, 2010 : 3:16 a.m.

So does Newcombe Clark actually moderate the user comments on this website, or just one of his friends?


Wed, Jul 14, 2010 : 12:28 a.m.

As if its not bad enough that comments that are critical of Newcombe Clark's candidacy are being deleted, comments complaining about these deletions are themselves being deleted. The practices of AAdotCom's community moderators are shameful. Not only does this article stop just short of an endorsement, all the comments relating to this article are singing his praises, with the most negative being "I don't like some of his stances, but I'll be voting for him". Negative comments, even if they are far from calumniatory, are promptly deleted. Comments referencing deletions are deleted. We'll see if this comment stands, but the chances are not good.


Tue, Jul 13, 2010 : 10:28 p.m.

Comments critical of Mr. Clark apparently are not being published, nor are administrative notices that said comments have been deleted.


Tue, Jul 13, 2010 : 10:23 p.m.

Go Nuke! It'll be nice to add a rational person to the 5th ward representation on council!


Tue, Jul 13, 2010 : 9:02 p.m.

Newcombe Clark's campaign is simply his latest vehicle for personal advancement. The people who are foolish enough to help this egomaniac garner more personal attention truly deserve to have him as their representative on the council.


Tue, Jul 13, 2010 : 8:43 p.m.

Were those bus shelter billboards actually for real?  Yow! Now that Newcombe's larger-than-life visage has left the house, will the AATA's signage department please replace him with Harvey Pekar (RIP), the Chekhov & Dostoevski of the commuting class? While you have to be native-born to run for the White House, (sorry, Jenny and Ahnold), I'm grateful we live in a society open to having even Moravians campaign for local offices. But will Clark's campaign drive home its points by organizing ghostly, spectral, all-night rave dances throughout Germantown? You may as well have some fun while running a hopeless fall campaign.


Tue, Jul 13, 2010 : 6:25 p.m.

Common theme: Nuk is a partner in The Moravian. The Moravian is defeated. Nuk plans revenge. Nuk is reported to be a partner in Heritage Row. Heritage Row is defeated. Nuk plans revenge. This candidacy is meant to seek vengeance, not to serve the public good. It is no coincidence that Nuk is also the product name of a famous pacifier.


Tue, Jul 13, 2010 : 6:01 p.m.

From what I hear, AATA had started the process of removing Clark from all of their advertising weeks ago and the Pioneer location was just the last to come down. To imply they were just sitting there waiting for his orders is laughable. Did anyone from ask anyone at AATA what the real story was?


Tue, Jul 13, 2010 : 5:35 p.m.

I have a lot of respect for our 5th ward Councilmember Carsten Hohnke who took the time to fully understand zoning laws and master planning instead of buckling under developer threats. Mr. Nuke didn't get his way with his supersized developments so he's running for council in the spirit of a toddler throwing a temper tantrum. So far the only thing he's shown any interest in is his own profits and ego -- certainly not the best interests of the citizens of Ann Arbor. Carsten has the maturity and intellect to rise above -- unlike what's-his-name.

Ryan J. Stanton

Tue, Jul 13, 2010 : 4:36 p.m.

@rusty shackelford No, it's not online. But I've requested it from the clerk.


Tue, Jul 13, 2010 : 4:27 p.m.

I talked to Carsten about two weeks ago when he stopped at my house campaigning for the primary in August. I am not a fan of his stand on both developments in "Germantown". I put Germantown in quotes because it is obvious that this is a concoction of some local NIMBYs to thwart a couple of developments in that area. I see most houses in that area as typical student rentals and see no reason that the Moravian and Heritage Row developments should have been built. It looks to me that the council was being used by the landlords in the area as a shield against having to spend money to upgrade their properties because a couple of spanking new apartment developments were proposed. If most of the houses in the area were single family, I would stand against these developments, but they are not. Sorry Carsten, I am looking for new blood on the council and will be voting against you in the primary and if you make it through the primary, again in the general election.


Tue, Jul 13, 2010 : 4:10 p.m.

What exactly are "perceived political realities"?? Doesn't reality mean it's real, but perceived means it's not? Huh? Talk about the rhetoric of a politician! I live in the 5th Ward. I don't know if I'll vote for Mr. Clark or not until I hear a little more about what his priorites are. But honestly, to state up front that you're only going to serve for one term... while that may sound noble, it also smacks of trying to get something you want then getting out after you do (or don't) as opposed to a real interest in the long-term future of our city.

rusty shackelford

Tue, Jul 13, 2010 : 3:16 p.m.

Ryan, is some version of the filing petition available online? It is a public document and its of public interest to know who signed the petition.

A Pretty Ann Arbor

Tue, Jul 13, 2010 : 3:15 p.m.

"Nuke the 5th" - that is exactly what he wants to do with Germantown - get rid of he won't have my vote! I think his website name says it all.


Tue, Jul 13, 2010 : 2:06 p.m.

Thank goodness somebody is mad enough to run for city council who is pro-growth! Go Big or Go Home!


Tue, Jul 13, 2010 : 2:05 p.m.

Good luck bud - its time Ann Arbor had some young blood on the council and a townie to boot.