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Posted on Wed, Apr 10, 2013 : 4:40 p.m.

University of Michigan student group eyes seats on Ann Arbor City Council

By Ryan J. Stanton

A group of University of Michigan students calling itself the Ann Arbor Mixed Use Party is looking to line up a slate of student candidates to run for City Council this year.

No one from the party has pulled nominating petitions from the city clerk's office yet, but the party has laid out an agenda on its website at

"In Ann Arbor, we will gain a majority on City Council to create a new zoning code, abolish tax increment financing, legalize victimless crimes, and look for other ways to improve the city," the party's website states, also calling for lowering taxes.

Law student Shang Kong, chairman of the party, told the Michigan Daily the party's platform is still in the conceptualization process, and candidates have not yet been selected. The party, which formed in January, is meeting on the last Sunday of every month at Angell Hall.

As its name implies, the party wants to replace the city's "exclusionary zoning" with a new city code that includes three types of zoning: Mixed use, restricted mixed use, and heavy industrial.

It specifically wants to abolish "extra rules" the city has for co-ops, sororities, and fraternities "that do not apply to other residents."

The mixed-use zone, according to the party's website, would make it so areas of Ann Arbor with tall buildings and late-night activity can have businesses, houses and apartments next to each other "with few rules about noise, light, building height, and opening and closing times."

The restricted mixed-use zone would place additional limits on residences and businesses, including a three-story height limit, and the industrial zone would allow for "loud and dirty activities."

"Except for public land, including parks, all of the city will be covered by these three zones," the party states. "With the new zoning code, housing will be cheaper, walking to stores will be easier, natural areas will be preserved, and people will be freer to do what they want with their property."

Under the "legalize victimless crimes" section of its website, the party advocates for easing the rules around drinking in public.

It also calls for tightening restrictions on the Downtown Development Authority to "stop the city government from making investments in private businesses," arguing the DDA "should not be able to force citizens to loan money to developers."

Because the city is overwhelmingly Democratic, council races typically are decided in the Democratic primary in August when voter turnout is low and many students are away for the summer.

Five members of the 11-member Ann Arbor City Council are up for re-election this year, but so far only two potential challengers have emerged.

Julie Grand, chairwoman of the city's Park Advisory Commission, plans to run against 3rd Ward incumbent Stephen Kunselman in the Democratic primary in August.

Planning Commission Chairman Kirk Westphal, a Democrat, plans to run against 2nd Ward incumbent Jane Lumm, an Independent. They would face off in November.

Three others remain unopposed: Sabra Briere is seeking re-election in the 1st Ward, Marcia Higgins is seeking re-election in the 4th Ward, and Mike Anglin is seeking re-election in the 5th Ward.

May 14 is the filing deadline.

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.



Thu, Apr 11, 2013 : 10:53 p.m.

Shang, as far as I know, grew up in Ann Arbor, went to UM undergrad, and is now a law student. His family still lives here. He stayed in Ann Arbor last summer and will be here this summer, when most of his classmates are fleeing for big cities. He's also far from a frat boy or a partier. So, say want you want about their politics, but Shang is certainly not "transient," "undergrad," or a "part-timer."

Leslie Morris

Thu, Apr 11, 2013 : 6:36 p.m.

Only three Human Rights Party members were elected to the Ann Arbor City Council. Nancy Wechsler and Jerry DeGrieck were elected in 1972. Kathy Kozachenko was elected in 1974.


Thu, Apr 11, 2013 : 11:58 a.m.

They should run Jimmy McMillen of the Rent is Too Damn HIgh Party. Yes, they are still out there and going strong. You can even buy a talking doll of McMillen. Style, solidarity and gloves.


Thu, Apr 11, 2013 : 10:43 a.m.

Sorry, do not agree with students running for city council. For the most part they are only part-timers here in Ann Arbor and don't wish to have our codes and regulations changed by those who are not going to be around to have to live by them. Sorry.


Wed, Jun 12, 2013 : 12:04 a.m.

They are almost all life long residents. Shang Kong has lived here since 1998, Will Leaf was born and raised here. Sometimes Ann Arbor residents do indeed attend the university and want to make an influence in our community.


Thu, Apr 11, 2013 : 4:08 a.m.

I'm all for challenging the status quo, and I find our city council to be mostly clueless, but this is ridiculous. I believe anyone should have the right to run, but most of these kids won't even be here in a few years. It's short sighted, immature, and very collegecentric. I would be all for this if these kids had a mature platform and a sincere desire to live in Ann Arbor long term, but I don't think they do. Is there any end to the entitlement attitude that so many UM students display?


Wed, Jun 12, 2013 : midnight

They are almost exclusively long term ann arbor residents and all of them are dedicated to being in the area for the long term. Given there is room for the platform to mature, there desire to improve ann arbor is sincere. I have gone to grade school through high school and into college with almost all of the candidates (Shang Kong among them). Many of them have lived in Ann Arbor longer than most current city council members. Just because they are young doesn't mean they are opportunistic, the opposite may be true.


Thu, Apr 11, 2013 : 3:29 a.m.

I like the idea of competition and debate of the young 'uns ideas! Bring it on! Don't think they will win. A2 in the 20Teens is very much different than A2 in the 1970's. But, what the heck, as we townies say: "Ann Arbor: Keep it Weird!"


Thu, Apr 11, 2013 : 3:26 a.m.

Shang Kong is a fine candidate. He's got my vote!

Jay Thomas

Thu, Apr 11, 2013 : 4:37 p.m.

Any word on how the Hamburglar will be voting? I figure you are in the know.


Thu, Apr 11, 2013 : 3:05 p.m.

He's a born leader, wherever he was born.


Thu, Apr 11, 2013 : 12:59 p.m.

@Pineywoodsguy I believe he moved to Ann Arbor when he was like 9


Thu, Apr 11, 2013 : 3:30 a.m.

Was Shang Kong born here? Or did he come to Ann Arbor as soon as he heard about it?


Thu, Apr 11, 2013 : 3:06 a.m.

More competition for the City Council is always a good thing, especially if someone finally sends Marcia Higgins packing, but some of their ideas aren't very well thought and I'm not convinced a student-centric platform will get anywhere in Ann Arbor in this day and age.

An Arborigine

Thu, Apr 11, 2013 : 2:37 a.m.

Pay taxes, then "eye seats"

Nicholas Urfe

Fri, Apr 12, 2013 : 3:06 a.m.

Ah yes, the old "only property owners are worthy argument".. Renters pay property tax.

Nicholas Urfe

Thu, Apr 11, 2013 : 2:23 a.m.

I hereby declare my candidacy for the election, running in my newly formed party, the Beer Pong Party. Thank you for your support of the party. And by the party, I do mean my beer pong fund.


Thu, Apr 11, 2013 : 1:56 a.m.

I don't need some kid from Long Island voting on City Council. I pay my taxes!


Tue, Jun 11, 2013 : 11:49 p.m.

They are almost all Ann Arbor natives, where did you grow up?


Thu, Apr 11, 2013 : 1:33 a.m.

Before they can run shouldn't they at least be tax payers for Ann Arbor and not just going to school here without any connections except maybe their parent's money to support them.


Thu, Apr 11, 2013 : 12:56 p.m.

Shang Kong is a local

Angry Moderate

Thu, Apr 11, 2013 : 1:47 a.m.

Who said they don't have any connections here? Some U of M students are local you know.


Thu, Apr 11, 2013 : 1:42 a.m.

bluejunk - Go back to the time of the constitution of the US being approved and see who was allowed to vote. In a little over 200 years, I think we have made the right kind of progress on voting rights. Let us not go backwards to protect the current sitting city council.


Thu, Apr 11, 2013 : 1:15 a.m.

It is a shame when candidates run unopposed for seats. Their is so little debate now about city priorities, when there is no challenger there is even less debate. Good luck to whomever decides to run from this group. When I first heard about this I was hoping for a little more promising platform, however.


Thu, Apr 11, 2013 : 1:16 a.m.

SB "There is so little debate..."


Thu, Apr 11, 2013 : 1:03 a.m.

Must be the effects of the Hash Bash reunion, sure lets lower taxes for more services and legalize victimless crimes, and look for other ways to improve the city. I'll smoke to that.

David Cahill

Thu, Apr 11, 2013 : 12:48 a.m.

"Loud and dirty activities"? Do I want to go there? Sounds like they could be fun. 8-)

Dog Guy

Wed, Apr 10, 2013 : 11:46 p.m.

Assuming that Shang Kong is not just needling Ann Arborites, their mixedupparty would have a good chance of gaining a council seat if they chose an attractive candidate with good slogans.


Wed, Apr 10, 2013 : 11:30 p.m.

Shades of 1972 and the good old student-driven Rainbow People's (aka Human Rights) Party. Never a dull moment back then. They won some council seats too.


Thu, Apr 11, 2013 : 12:57 a.m.

As a hippie student led party in very conservative (at the time) Ann Arbor, two seats was huge! They made way more noise than you'd expect with two seats. The audience a council meetings was filled every week back then and the theatrics routinely made national news. The patina of 40 years has worn nicely. Seems quaint now.


Wed, Apr 10, 2013 : 11:54 p.m.



Wed, Apr 10, 2013 : 11:06 p.m.

YES! Legalized couch burnings! Sparty on U of M!


Wed, Apr 10, 2013 : 10:24 p.m.

I remember back in the 1970s when students at University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University ran for the City Council seats in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti under the Human Rights Party ticket - and often won. Kathy Kozacheff, a U-M student, became the first openly lesbian candidate elected in the U.S. to public office when she was voted into office in Ann Arbor. Eric Jackson was elected in Ypsilanti and served two terms on its City Council.

Anonymous Commentor

Thu, Apr 11, 2013 : 10:40 a.m.

Wasn't Benita Kamowitz also on council for a couple of terms?


Thu, Apr 11, 2013 : 4:20 a.m.

@Jay Thomas: Eric and I worked in the same law office in the 1980s. He is now in Panama, his place of birth, where he is the publisher of the Panama News. @ David Cahill: Yeah, Kathy was also the first Ukrainian-American on Ann Arbor City Council. She was preceded on City Council by two other Human Rights Party nominees - one was named Sue Wechsler and there was a fellow also whose name I can't recall.

Jay Thomas

Thu, Apr 11, 2013 : 1:46 a.m.

I remember Jackson; he was outraged that the government would require people to work ("workfare") in order to collect welfare benefits.

David Cahill

Thu, Apr 11, 2013 : 12:50 a.m.

Er, she was Kathy Kozachenko.


Wed, Apr 10, 2013 : 11:11 p.m.

"and often won." Please fill us in as to how many other than the 2 mentioned EVER won. The Human Rights party was a factor for a total of 2-3 years.


Wed, Apr 10, 2013 : 10:13 p.m.

If they are who is running against Marcia Higgins they have my vote.


Wed, Apr 10, 2013 : 11:10 p.m.

And I bet they'd show up regularly to council meetings.


Wed, Apr 10, 2013 : 10:23 p.m.

Maybe *they* can get rid of the Georgetown Mall.


Wed, Apr 10, 2013 : 10:08 p.m.

A coup d'├ętat by a Fraternity? You don't say?


Wed, Apr 10, 2013 : 9:39 p.m.

Public drinking, no noise restrictions, and unregulated frat houses...sorry thats a no go. Ann Arbor isn't a just play-ground for transient college partiers, people live and work here.

Angry Moderate

Wed, Apr 10, 2013 : 8:56 p.m.

Unregulated frat houses and more public drinking? Do these people know that the voters are townies with jobs and children, not undergrads?


Wed, Apr 10, 2013 : 10:59 p.m.

The link shows... 2 dozen beer drinking students rally. And that qualifies as a "proud history"? I don't think so!

Ryan J. Stanton

Wed, Apr 10, 2013 : 9:19 p.m.

University of Michigan students have a proud history of fighting for their right to party:


Wed, Apr 10, 2013 : 8:53 p.m.

It will be interesting to see if they can get enough people to change their residency, and their street adress in Ann arbor for that matter to cover all the precints, to even make a dent in the politcal landscape


Wed, Apr 10, 2013 : 8:52 p.m.

Competition is good, open debate and discussion hone ideas and stimulate progress. I am glad to see people get involved, regardless of their background and ideas. Go Mixed Use Party, challenge the status quo. May the best ideas win.