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Posted on Tue, Feb 2, 2010 : 5:39 p.m.

Patricia Lesko, the voice behind A2Politico, to take on Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje this election

By Ryan J. Stanton

One of Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje's most vocal critics is about to take a shot at ousting him from office.

Patricia Lesko, a Democrat who admits she thrice voted for Hieftje but now finds herself at odds with him politically, has launched a Web page declaring her candidacy via Facebook. She's also tweeting it.


Patricia Lesko poses in this file photo.

Lesko, a grassroots political activist who has been a vehement critic of the current council majority, has spent the last several months anonymously running the blog under the pseudonym "Sam Rosenthal." Her posts are often filled with venomous attacks against Hieftje and other city officials.

For the first time, Lesko publicly acknowledged today she is the masked blogger behind the A2Politico moniker.

"For me, A2Politico was an opportunity to have a discussion about the policy decisions being made by our elected officials, and that's something that's really important I think," she said. "With A2Politico, the idea behind it was and still is to comment - sometimes critically, always constructively - on those policies in a way that hasn't been done before. Has my goal sometimes been to create outrage? Absolutely."

Hieftje, who has been mayor since 2000, said he doesn't know Lesko very well, but knowing she's behind A2Politico, he knows he's up against a tough critic - one he claims doesn't always get the facts straight.

"I don't really read it - I have it in my spam filter," he said. "But people will sometimes send me stuff and everything I've read has turned out to be completely false."

Hiefte and Lesko will face off in the August primary for a chance to advance to the November general election. No one else has announced plans to run yet.

Lesko has more than two decades of experience in marketing, management and finance. She says she's running for mayor because she wants to change the direction public policy has taken under the current administration’s watch. “My campaign is about moving the focus of city government back to the basics: people, services, infrastructure, and responsible spending," Lesko said in a written statement today.

Lesko is publisher and CEO of a national higher education publishing group headquartered in Ann Arbor called Part-Time Press, which publishes professional development materials.

Lesko has been involved in several local political campaigns aimed at ousting incumbent office-holders. This past election cycle, she managed the unsuccessful campaigns of Hatim Elhady, who ran against Council Member Marcia Higgins in the 4th Ward, and LuAnne Bullington, who ran alongside Stephen Kunselman against Leigh Greden in the 3rd Ward.

Lesko lost in a race against Sandi Smith in 2008 for one of the 1st Ward seats on the City Council.

If elected, Lesko would be the second openly gay mayor in Michigan, and one of only 21 openly gay mayors nationwide. She also would be only the third woman to serve as Ann Arbor's mayor since the city's incorporation in 1851.

Lesko said she believes Ann Arbor needs a mayor prepared to work with council members to tackle the serious challenges that face the community. She points out spending on government overhead has increased 35 percent since 2006, by $33 million dollars per year - spending she vows to rein in.

Commenting on the fact that the University of Michigan's acquisition of the former Pfizer property took $1.2 million in tax revenue away from the city, Lesko says she would propose a PILOT program - or payment in lieu of taxes - to raise $4 million to $6 million in additional revenue each year.

"MIT has been paying the city of Cambridge PILOT payments since 1928, and Harvard has since 1968. PILOT programs are nothing new to world-class universities with billion-dollar research budgets," she said. "I am prepared to do whatever needs to be done on behalf of the citizens of Ann Arbor to get a PILOT in place.”

Lesko calls the city's switch to single-stream recycling a "$6 million mistake" and "an environmentally regressive policy shift.” She also believes city employees' pension and health care plans need to be restructured, and the savings should be reinvested in the city.

She argues the current administration has reduced the number of police and firefighters, yet the city is still paying $13 million per year more for emergency services than it was in 2005. She said gaining the trust of unions will go a long way toward reducing costs.

Lesko also vows to work to halt the downtown Library Lot underground garage project currently under way. She says floating the bonds for the project was a costly mistake, and she has an "exit strategy" that will save $70 million to $80 million. Lesko grew up in Dearborn and also lived in Wyandotte. A resident of Ann Arbor for 28 years, she moved here to attend U-M, where she earned undergraduate and graduate degrees.

With her partner of 19 years, Marjorie Winkelman Lesko, she is the mother of two sons, Bram, 9, and Lane, 12.

Lesko said she hopes to have up and running soon. Ryan J. Stanton covers government for Reach him at or 734-623-2529.



Sun, Jun 20, 2010 : 2:06 p.m.

@a2grateful It's interesting that you would comment on your own story Ms. Lesko, and anonymously at that.


Fri, Apr 2, 2010 : 11:33 a.m.

Best of luck in beating Hieftje!!!!

Pete Bigelow

Fri, Feb 5, 2010 : 3:34 p.m.

A comment has been removed from this story because it was off-topic.

Alan Benard

Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 8:57 p.m.

I don't know who Ms. Lesko is and haven't read her blog. But I do see the same talking points about her offered over and over and over again. Do I pick up my copy at the Washtenaw Dairy, or can I have it faxed over from Democratic headquarters?

John Floyd

Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 5:18 p.m.

Ms. Lesko certainly brings out strong emotions, pro or con. This could be a fun election to watch. I think Mayor Heiftje has a sound re-election strategy: encourage people not to look at any of the issues, and ease policy discussion off to the side of the road. Encouraging people to look at the issues, strongly championing your own point of view, and asking voters to decide who is right, is not good election strategy. Once people actually start examining issues, you never know just what will happen. Better to discourage discussion altogether.

Steve Pepple

Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 10:21 a.m.

A comment has been removed because it contained a personal attack against another commenter.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 9:52 a.m.

You may not like Ms. Lesko's method of delivering the message. You may not like message of the Pew report cited in a prior post. You probably won't like Gov. Granholm's State-of-the-State comments last night, either: "Seventy eight percent of auto industry jobs disappeared in the last decade, contributing to the loss of a million Michigan jobs." "Our world has changed utterly," she said. "The old Michigan economy is gone." "Anyone who believed that Michigan would naturally rebound without making deep and lasting change had a rendezvous with reality in 2009." Maybe Ann Arbor avoided the rendezvous with reality in 2009. Like it or not, a2 City government, and its citizens, certainly face the rendezvous in the very near future. It's time to scrap "business as usual", and reform wasteful, selfish government.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 9:48 a.m.

It is interesting that Ms Lesko talks about improving relations with unions when she recently endorsed Stephen Kunselman. In a article you can find on, from July 25 of 2008, this is the language used regarding Mr. Kunselman's service the last time he was a council member: "As one example, earlier this year Kunselman met with some of the city's unionized public services employees, where he used an expletive to criticize their performance in the winter's snow removal. When asked by an employee about the automated compost pickup, Kunselman said, "You guys are getting lazy," according to a letter of complaint from the union president to City Administrator Roger Fraser. That letter ultimately led to a formal apology from Kunselman. The administration and union leaders have worked hard to improve their relationship in recent years. It's important that council members not jeopardize that effort." It's one thing to complain about snow removal as a citizen, though one could argue that expletives are unnecessary and unimaginative, and another thing entirely to speak this way to people over whom you have power in the form of your position in public office. Perhaps her support is based on just this type of behavior as it appears to be somewhat reflective of her own. I'm not sure why anybody would feel that this would benefit Ann Arbor.


Wed, Feb 3, 2010 : 8:39 p.m.

Those who can do, those you can't "BLOG", be careful because they say pay back is a "B"


Wed, Feb 3, 2010 : 7:06 p.m.

Comments like the one from A. Green seem typical of the anti-Lesko views seen on this list, "Her use of ridicule and venomous attacks shows her true character, which is a trait that I do NOT want in a mayor who represents my city. Even if she might have a rare idea that is plausible, her actions and writings show that she does not understand how to talk to people, work with people as colleagues, or how to compromise. How will she act when an angry constituent communicates with her? Will she use ridicule and attack them? How will she act when a vote does not go her way? Will she disparage her colleagues publicly and embarrass them until they give in to her every whim?" A "rare idea that seems plausible...", get real! The PILOT program (getting UofM to pony up money to the city) is just one in a string of ideas Pat has thought of. You will never see anything like this coming out of the current Mayor's office. Pat, "(can't) with people as colleagues..."; neither can the current Mayor. Maybe A. Green did not hear about the constituent who was told by the current Mayor via email that there were no plans to develop the Library Lot at the same time he was attending meetings to develop the Library Lot. Is this your idea of how to handle angry constituents? If you want private developers running city government, vote for Hieftje; if you want a city manager (who does not live in Ann Arbor) running the city government like a private for-profit corporation, vote for Hieftje; if you want more service fees with less service, vote for Hieftje (developers need the money, you know.) We expect the people we elect to be Mayor to actually provide accountable, transparent leadership. We've just gotten through eight years of a rudderless Governor who was always for the "Good" people and against the "Bad" people (she would never step on any toes--so nothing ever got done and Michigan's situation got worse.) A. Green (and people like him/her) should watch what they say since his comment is nothing but venom.


Wed, Feb 3, 2010 : 5:21 p.m.

"which is zero." Agreed.

Marvin Face

Wed, Feb 3, 2010 : 5:03 p.m.

This conversation is all well and good but let's all be honest. She has as much chance as winning the mayoral election in Ann Arbor as Sabra Briere or Tom Wall...which is zero.


Wed, Feb 3, 2010 : 4:35 p.m.

Again this is always a horrible thing to do if you really want change. She's a far out candidate who wants to shake up the norm by being totally venomus and all that...which I have no problem with. But the tin foil hat crew vote is going to goto her and take away from any any legitimate candidate in the primary. Thus she will defeat herself.


Wed, Feb 3, 2010 : 4:01 p.m.

I hate it when people post on the Internet under assumed names.


Wed, Feb 3, 2010 : 3:51 p.m.

Lesko is a breath of fresh air, a Democrat who thinks spending is out of control. You go girl. As for her blog, it's not angry or vitriolic. It's amusing, but also sad because she much is true. She speaks truth to power and has my support.


Wed, Feb 3, 2010 : 2:48 p.m.

it's my understanding that ms. lesko was behind the campaign of a recent ill- fated candidate for city council, whose candidacy was ( perhaps purely coincidentally) also supported by a number of notorious one- issue cranks in town ( who are almost certainly the ones whose posts here are regularly deleted as 'off topic' or in violation of site they were on arbor update and in other venues.....) if so it speaks poorly of her ability to choose, or more accurately not to explicitly distance herself and her candidate, from such people ( as obama did with jeremiah wright). although i dont vote in ann arbor, in this case i wouldnt be inclined to support her.

Brian Kuehn

Wed, Feb 3, 2010 : 2:46 p.m.

Someone who hid behind a pseudonym while doling out caustic commentary won't get my support or vote. Ms. Lesko's explanation that she did not want her identity to distract the readers from the message rings hollow.


Wed, Feb 3, 2010 : 2:44 p.m.

@flyingsquirrel Your wrote: "examine her past history of working with groups in Ann Arbor." Please give some links or other references to support this statement. I'd be interested in reading/studying them.


Wed, Feb 3, 2010 : 12:10 p.m.

Ms. Lesko has a Master's in creative writing. And creative writing is what she is very good at. There's a reason her blog, A2politico, was anonymous--she herself states that it was that way to keep the focus on the issues. What would distract people from the issues if they knew who the author was? Perhaps her record of being incapable of working in group situations and having anything positive come out of it. I don't have a problem with her being angry about or critical of public policy. What worries me is how quickly her vicious attacks can become personal if she feels someone doesn't agree with her. I urge anyone who might vote for Ms. Lesko based on her writings to examine her past history of working with groups in Ann Arbor. She would be a complete disaster as Mayor.

winston smith

Wed, Feb 3, 2010 : 11:38 a.m.

I would almost vote for Ms. Lesko just for the entertainment value of her attempting to work with city council. Almost. I think Ms. Lesko is an intelligent woman who writes well but she has burned more bridges than the French Army in retreat. Talk to anyone who has worked with her in a group setting and it will become apparent that she is incapable of working in a group setting without alienating those around her. Our current regime is far from perfect but Ms. Lesko is certainly not the answer.


Wed, Feb 3, 2010 : 11:17 a.m.

Someone must be critical. Certainly Ms Lesko can seem abrasive. Is it warranted? Our current City officials are insensitive (verging on belligerence) to the plights of the City, County, State, National, and World economies. Instead of acting in fiscally prudent manners, they choose to threaten ending of protections and services, while handsomely funding out-of-town developers with cash and new infrastructure. When citizens protest, they offer new development as appeasement. Where has the City found all of this new development funding money in the midst of their revenue crisis? In our midst is the crumbling Stadium Bridge. Driving over it the past week revealed a far worse surface condition than last fall. Expect to see this bridge closed very soon. Please note that Stadium Bridge did not fail this year. It failed over five years ago. How did this happen when we were "flush with cash?" What has been captivating the attention of our leadership for all of these years? They have raised taxes through several millages. They have increased municipal fees in dramatic fashion. Your water bill is an obvious example. City government has insulated themselves in administrative bliss. Now, they want to "override" Headllee, or institute City income tax, or slash services and protections. Maybe this doesn't seem so bad for Ann Arbor. But what is happening elsewhere? The state of Michigan still has to learn all the things that being a POOR state means. When the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis releases finalized 2009 data, Michigan (is expected) to be among the 10 poorest states. Quote from the Pew Center on the States interview with Donald Grimes, senior research specialist, University of Michigan, Sept. 17, 2009. Michigan has spent the past decade learning the hard way about downsizing. In 2001, the famed automobile capital of the world fell into recession with the rest of the country, but it was the only state NEVER TO EMERGE. Pew Center on States, Beyond California: States in Fiscal Peril, November 2009. Economic forecasters from Moodys said they do not expect Michigan to see another peak in its business cycle during their entire 30-year forecasting horizon. Pew Center on States, Beyond California: States in Fiscal Peril, November 2009. These are some reasons why the City must totally reconstruct its idea of identity and purpose, and REINVENT the budget from the ground up. No more business as usual. Ms Lesko has considered issues that the City has been too arrogant or ignorant to consider. We desperately need new leadership for the City. Our next August primary should prove interesting. We will be deciding our Ann Arbor future. Will we choose to continue in our current 1960's mode of imaginary Big 3 automotive growth and prosperity, or will we choose to face the economic realities of 2010? What is Michigan's unemployment rate? Is Ann Arbor's rate different? What is SEMCOG's population forecast for Ann Arbor in the next twenty years? What is the economic forecast? Answers to these questions should form the basis of next course of City government discussion and planning.

Atticus F.

Wed, Feb 3, 2010 : 11:12 a.m.

I would like to see a mayor that is focused on all parts of A2, and the needs of all citizens... Northsiders, Eastsiders, far Westsiders. The city of Ann Arbor is not all about Downtown Ann Arbor and the Old West Side. Not everybody in this town makes 300k/year. I think some of the more affluent quasi-liberals in A2 have grown out of touch with some of the less affluent citizens.


Wed, Feb 3, 2010 : 10:38 a.m.

M_ONeill, what half-truths? Care to be more specific?


Wed, Feb 3, 2010 : 9:52 a.m.

Somebody who ran a blog full of half-truths under a false name. Not exactly the sort of transparency I'd like to see in A2 government.

Janelle Baranowski

Wed, Feb 3, 2010 : 9:51 a.m.

I'm sad to see the end of A2P's anonymity. Many of you are critical of her sometimes mean-spirited attacks on the current administration, but her style served the function of provoking readers. Local politics often go by the wayside because they aren't considered cool or intriguing like national politics. Ms. Lesko/A2P, with her provocative writings, made our local politics "sexy." Whether you agree with her views or not, I hope we can all agree that her blog served a valuable function in our community by raising questions and increasing citizen awareness of local issues. Regarding a few comments about the mention of Ms. Lesko's orientation, please view her press release at: You will notice that it is among the first things mentioned by Ms. Lesko.


Wed, Feb 3, 2010 : 9:47 a.m.

I'm angry about how the mayor and city council has been dealing with issues for some time. So sue me. We're supposed to just sit by quietly? Go Patricia! I'll be sending $$ and support your way. I for one read your stuff and contrary to what the honorable Mr. Hieftje says, it isn't always false. Odd that he would make a blanket claim like that and heaven forbid we should disagree and look for change is this city.


Wed, Feb 3, 2010 : 9:42 a.m.

Funny how fast she's being framed as "angry". But if you're going to frame it that way, I'm "angry" too. How can one not be? Our city infrastructure is falling apart, city spending has gone up 30 percent (is that correct?), and fees have risen. This is crazy! I for one want someone who closely scrutinizes the budget. Isn't that what people are yelling for all over the country? I rarely have time to pour through hundreds of pages of numbers I wouldn't understand anyway. So perhaps she's gotten a head start serving the public. Her blog is there in public for any council member, the Mayor or city administrator to answer and as far as I can tell they don't.


Wed, Feb 3, 2010 : 9:05 a.m.

It is utterly amazing that in a city like Ann Arbor we are relegated to selecting from Lesko and Hieftje. Please, somewhere out there someone has to come forth, hopefully a Republican, that can bring down this Democratic folly.

Top Cat

Wed, Feb 3, 2010 : 8:58 a.m.

It is rare to see an angry person get anything positive accomplished.


Wed, Feb 3, 2010 : 8:36 a.m.

She is a Democrat and does not sound like a nice person. Her" venomous attacks " is just what we do not need in this city. Her work as the CEO of a "higher education publishing group " means that she is an elitist just like the people running the country now. Please do an in depth story on her so we know where she stands on the issues not like what the press did for Presiednt Obama.

David Cahill

Wed, Feb 3, 2010 : 8:05 a.m.

Ryan, how about an poll on this race?


Wed, Feb 3, 2010 : 7:56 a.m.

What? No Tom Wall this time around?

Steve Hendel

Wed, Feb 3, 2010 : 6:51 a.m.

"We accept that views on the relevance of such information will vary and leave that up for you to decide whether it's important to you." Isn't it a reporter's function to make some judgments about relevance? Suppose she had ade some reference to her religious beliefs-would you have included those in your story?


Wed, Feb 3, 2010 : 6:41 a.m.

I hope Ms Lesko loses big- we dont need a Mayor who has nothing but irrational anger to offer. BTW, isnt she a person who presided over a couple of unsuccessful local campaigns in the recent past?

Ryan J. Stanton

Tue, Feb 2, 2010 : 10:25 p.m.

@Marvin Yes, and it's Go Ask Voters:

Marvin Face

Tue, Feb 2, 2010 : 10:14 p.m.

This should be hilarious! She's lost every race she's been involved in. Hasn't she also been leading that boondoggle "ask voters first" or "go ask voters" or whatever? What a disaster.

Ryan J. Stanton

Tue, Feb 2, 2010 : 10:10 p.m.

Following my interview with Ms. Lesko today, she made this post revealing, "I am the A2Politico."

Matt Hampel

Tue, Feb 2, 2010 : 10:05 p.m.

There are some vitriolic emails that seem to parallel a2politico -- that's probably what ends up in the spam filter.

A Pretty Ann Arbor

Tue, Feb 2, 2010 : 9:32 p.m.

I am delighted!!


Tue, Feb 2, 2010 : 8:40 p.m.

"I don't really read it - I have it in my spam filter," Wow. Our mayor really has that new fangled interweb thingy figured out. Maybe he has the city budget in his spam filter, too. Oy.


Tue, Feb 2, 2010 : 7:57 p.m.

She sounds like Monica Conyers, this could get interesting.


Tue, Feb 2, 2010 : 7:33 p.m.

"Wrong" facts can be overcome with access to information, something the City fights. "Wrong" logic can be overcome with a new mayor, whether it is Ms Lesko, or someone else. Looking forward to selecting an new mayor in the next Dem primary!


Tue, Feb 2, 2010 : 7:30 p.m.

Let's see, she has no experience in municipal government and has been a vehement critic of current elected officials, but thinks she'd make a good mayor, and reportedly is "prepared to work with council members to tackle the serious challenges that face the community". That would be a challenge in itself, after alienating so many people. And she wants to halt construction of the library lot garage that is ALREADY underway?? How in the world could that result in long-term cost savings?

A. Green

Tue, Feb 2, 2010 : 7:18 p.m.

The scariest thing that could ever happen to Ann Arbor is to have Ms. Lesko actually be elected Mayor. Her blog that she is so proud of is full of half-truths, innuendo, and flat out lies. Anyone who follows city issues can tell you that. Her use of ridicule and venomous attacks shows her true character, which is a trait that I do NOT want in a mayor who represents my city. Even if she might have a rare idea that is plausible, her actions and writings show that she does not understand how to talk to people, work with people as colleagues, or how to compromise. How will she act when an angry constituent communicates with her? Will she use ridicule and attack them? How will she act when a vote does not go her way? Will she disparage her colleagues publicly and embarrass them until they give in to her every whim? Ms. Lesko will be an embarrassment to our great city due to her lack of judgment and should not be Mayor.


Tue, Feb 2, 2010 : 7:08 p.m.

Excellent to hear! May you find great support in ending the gargantuan Hieftje folly!


Tue, Feb 2, 2010 : 7 p.m.

Perhaps if it was clear that the statement was attributed to her it wouldn't appear to be included for irrelevant reasons.

Ryan J. Stanton

Tue, Feb 2, 2010 : 6:40 p.m.

She made a point to make the statements about her sexual orientation that are contained in this story. We accept that views on the relevance of such information will vary and leave that up for you to decide whether it's important to you.


Tue, Feb 2, 2010 : 6:30 p.m.

Why is her sexual orientation relevant in this story?