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Posted on Tue, Aug 6, 2013 : 12:39 p.m.

Voters take to the polls in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti Township for primary election

By Amy Biolchini


Ypsilanti Township resident Salieta Jenkins feeds her ballot into the counter while voting at the Ypsilanti Township Fire Station 1 after working out on Tuesday, August 6, 2013.

Melanie Maxwell |

Washtenaw County voters cast their ballots on several key races and ballot issues in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti Township and Whitmore Lake in Tuesday’s primary election.

Voter turnout was slow Tuesday morning. Polls opened at 7 a.m. and will close at 8 p.m.

Voters in the 3rd and 4th wards in Ann Arbor will decide the primary race between Democratic candidates for seats on the Ann Arbor City Council, where two incumbents will be defending their spots.

In Ypsilanti Township, voters are being asked to approve three tax increases and a renewal of a millage for roadwork. Initial responses from voters in the township indicate that there may be significant support for the millage increases.

Whitmore Lake Public Schools District is asking its taxpayers in Washtenaw and Livingston counties to approve a $12.3 million bond issue that would be used to remodel and update school facilities and technology, purchase school buses and to construct athletic buildings and playing fields. The estimated tax rate to pay back the general obligation, unlimited tax bond in the first year is 2.5 mills.

Ann Arbor’s 3rd Ward

In the 3rd Ward, incumbent Council member Stephen Kunselman is defending his three terms against challenger Julie Grand, the chairwoman of the city's Parks Advisory Commission.

Low voter turnout has marked many previous city council elections.

At Tappan Middle School — precinct 3 in the 3rd Ward — 79 of 2,573 registered voters had cast their ballots by 9:45 a.m.


Ann Arbor resident Edith Hurst waits for her ballot as she prepares to vote at Tappan Middle School on Tuesday, August 6, 2013.

Melanie Maxwell |

Voters Tuesday morning were more willing to state they voted for Kunselman than Grand.

Betty Bishop said she voted for Kunselman because she likes his experience and ability to do his job well as a council member. Bishop said she wanted to make sure she has a say in the city’s direction, as the council determines the level of city services that she receives as a resident.

Monica Liebert said she also voted for Kunselman.

“Grand is a mayor’s rubber stamp,” Liebert said, explaining that she was sick of the development downtown and liked Kunselman’s approach to the issue.

Anita Baker-Blocker said Kunselman received her vote Tuesday.

“Kunselman is a man of the people and has ordinary Ann Arborite’s interests at heart,” Baker-Blocker said.

Several voters at Tappan Middle School said they voted for Grand but declined to provide their names on the record to when asked.

Two of Grand’s campaign staff members were handing out literature to voters at Tappan and were standing within the 100-foot legal limit Tuesday morning before city attorney and election commissioner Stephen Postema arrived about 9:30 a.m.

Postema had the campaign staff move back to the 100-foot boundary. There were no Kunselman campaign staff members present at the time.

At precincts 4 and 7 of the 3rd Ward at Allen School, a total of 99 of 3,984 registered voters in the precinct had cast their ballots as of 10:10 a.m. The 3rd Ward encompasses much of the south side of Ann Arbor.

Ann Arbor’s 4th Ward

In the 4th Ward race, incumbent Council member Marcia Higgins is defending her seat against challenger Jack Eaton. Higgins has served 14 years on city council.

Eaton is a labor attorney based out of Southfield who has lived in the 4th Ward since 1998.

Voter turnout was slow at Pioneer High School, which serves as a polling place for both precincts 4 and 8 in the 4th Ward: 64 of 5,158 registered voters had cast their ballots as of 10:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Nearby at Dicken Elementary — the polling place for precinct 7 in the 4th Ward — voter traffic was slightly heavier: 115 of 1,983 registered voters had voted as of 11 a.m.

Among the voters at Dicken was Lisa Murray, who said she voted for Higgins.

“I think she’s been doing a good job,” Murray said, noting that she felt it was important to vote in the primary election because it was her duty to participate in government.

Candy Hiller said she voted for Jack Eaton because he serves as a good opposition voice to the majority on city council.

Marilyn Tower voiced a similar sentiment as she explained why she voted for Eaton.

“It’s time for a change,” Tower said.

Eaton’s position on public safety issues was what won Tower’s vote, she said.

Ypsilanti Township ballot issues

Ypsilanti Township voters are being asked to approve three tax increases and to renew a millage for road improvements. The tax increases will be used for fire protection, police protection and for garbage, recycling and compost collection, as well as water quality and environmental protection.


Poll volunteers wait for voters at Precinct 7 at the Ypsilanti Township Fire Station 1 on Tuesday, August 6, 2013.

Melanie Maxwell |

The tax rate increases would mean a homeowner with a house with a taxable value of $100,000 would be paying an additional $175 per year if all three are approved.

Most voters surveyed in Ypsilanti Township Tuesday morning by said they supported the tax increases, though voter turnout was fairly slow.

There are 40,109 registered voters in Ypsilanti Township, which is divided into 13 voter precincts.

About seven of 2,684 registered voters cast ballots in the first hour and a half that polls were open Tuesday at Precinct 1 at the Free Methodist Church, 1800 Packard Road.

By 9 a.m., 19 of 3,480 registered individuals had voted at precincts 2 and 3 at Polo Fields, at 2955 Packard Road. Among the voters there was Mary Miller of Ypsilanti Township, who said she voted for the three tax increases and the one tax renewal.

“I think if people want services they need to be willing to pay for them,” Mary Miller said. “Townships and cities have lost so much revenue from foreclosures and everything. Somehow things need to be paid for and it’s not like national money will drop from the sky. We have to pay for it and also these are services that we rely on and a lot of times people have come to expect them.”

Bryan Miller of Ypsilanti Township voiced a similar sentiment to Mary Miller, though there is no relation between the two individuals.

“I voted yes for all four,” Bryan Miller said. “I want to see our community stay clean and safe. I hope this increase will allow the township to do that. I believe in sharing the responsibility.”


Poll volunteer Betty Jessee smiles as she hands over a ballot to a voter at the Ypsilanti Township Fire Station 1 on Tuesday, August 6, 2013.

Melanie Maxwell |

Debbie Wilbanks of Ypsilanti Township said she voted for all four ballot proposals as well Tuesday morning. As a retired teacher who had a 38-year career at Estabrook Elementary School, Wilbanks said she thinks the tax increases are necessary to keep the township a safe place in the future.

“…We need to do what’s best for our kids and the future of Ypsilanti so that it can continue to grow and be a safe place to live,” Wilbanks said. “More police protection, more fire services. …Ypsilanti is a great town and it doesn’t always get that good reputation. Having been a teacher in Ypsilanti for years, I know what a wonderful place it is and we just have to keep it that way.”

Steve Sicinski of Ypsilanti Township said he voted against the tax increases and road millage renewal.

“I’m tired of paying taxes. The taxes in Michigan just keep going up and up and up. Our payroll doesn’t and we’ve got to the point where people just don’t have any more money,” Sicinski said. “(The township) needs to fund this some other way, other than through property owners because we’re out.”

Ypsilanti Township officials have argued for the necessity of the three tax increases by citing the decreased revenue from declining property tax values in the township.

Sicinski was one of 18 voters that cast their ballots by 9:30 a.m. Tuesday at the Victorious Life Church at 860 E. Clark Road in Precinct 4. There are 2,733 registered voters in the precinct.

Check Tuesday night for election results as they are released.

Intern reporter Chelsea Hoedl contributed to this report.

Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for Reach her at (734) 623-2552, or on Twitter.



Wed, Aug 7, 2013 : 3:29 a.m.

All four Ypsilanti tax increases were approved.


Tue, Aug 6, 2013 : 11:56 p.m.

Let's go people! You have 4 minutes left to vote for Jack! Get up off of that couch and run, run, run...... VOTE FOR JACK in the 4th Ward!

Nicholas Urfe

Tue, Aug 6, 2013 : 8:42 p.m.

Bet Higgins isn't absent for this meeting.

Nicholas Urfe

Tue, Aug 6, 2013 : 11:36 p.m.

You each make a compelling argument.

Jack Gladney

Tue, Aug 6, 2013 : 10:49 p.m.

No. She was there but left before she voted.


Tue, Aug 6, 2013 : 8:48 p.m.

I don't know - an absentee ballot would seem kind of fitting.

Elijah Shalis

Tue, Aug 6, 2013 : 7:46 p.m.

My boyfriend and I both voted for Eaton at Cobblestone Farm. We noticed that the ballot actually says "John Eaton".

J. A. Pieper

Wed, Aug 7, 2013 : 12:56 a.m.

Yes, and John F. Kennedy was also referred to as Jack.

Jack Gladney

Tue, Aug 6, 2013 : 10:47 p.m.

Who's on third? No. What's your vector Victor? Huh?

The Infinite Jester

Tue, Aug 6, 2013 : 8:39 p.m.

Seems strange to have a 4th Ward precinct with the polling place in the third ward....


Tue, Aug 6, 2013 : 8:34 p.m.

Cobblestone is in the 3rd ward but it's a 4th ward polling place. Like the church/synagogue on Packard.

Elijah Shalis

Tue, Aug 6, 2013 : 8:07 p.m.

The Infinite Jester - no it is in the 4th

The Infinite Jester

Tue, Aug 6, 2013 : 8:05 p.m.

Isn't Cobblestone Farm in the third ward?

Colorado Sun

Tue, Aug 6, 2013 : 7:54 p.m.

John Eaton is his legal name.


Tue, Aug 6, 2013 : 7:08 p.m.

I question that, at least in Ypsi Township, they try to pass millage increases when they no voter turnout will be poor. Just my feeling, which is why I make sure I get my vote in. I don't understand the entire game of politics, nor do I want too, but it seems wasteful to me to even have these elections when it is certainty that turnout will be low. Why not just wait until November. Is there something I am missing or is the township afraid of a larger turnout?


Wed, Aug 7, 2013 : 1:40 a.m.

I think having multiple elections is a waste of money and resources, but I don't agree with blaming anyone for voter apathy except for the voters. Folks love to complain, but not to act. Not saying that you're one of them, glimmertwin, just saying that I can't emphasize with people who are too busy to vote more than once a year or even once every couple years.


Tue, Aug 6, 2013 : 9:05 p.m.

Its because the County will be asking for tax increases in future elections. It's easier to reject tax increases when they all hit at the same time. $200 here, $300 there, and somehow families still need to pay their bills and get the kids ready for school.


Tue, Aug 6, 2013 : 8:41 p.m.

@ Glimmertwin,, I will not argue you on that point at all. I agree that the spring and summer elections seem wasteful, especially if we are paying the pole workers to sit and have a coffee klatch all day.


Tue, Aug 6, 2013 : 8:39 p.m.

I don't necessarily disagree with you regarding the township being aggressive. But they are supposed to be representing their constituents. After all, they are elected officials. I wonder why putting millage increases on a ballot in August is trying to circumvent that.


Tue, Aug 6, 2013 : 7:49 p.m.

The township administration is aggressively trying to curb blight and the like. If you want to see your property value flatline don't vote for the millages. If you want to have any hope of rising from the lost city of Atlantis and helping homeowners get out from their underwater mortgages do the right thing and support the millage request.

Little Patience

Tue, Aug 6, 2013 : 7:37 p.m.

I agree, glimmertwin. I haven't made it up yet, and am still unsure how I'm going with a couple of the millage increases.


Tue, Aug 6, 2013 : 6:32 p.m.

I voted for Julie Grand first thing this morning. I have never met Steve Kunselman and didn't even know he was our city councilperson! We get a lot of city council communication from Christopher Taylor. I saw a lot of Julie Grand signs and door hangers all over our neighborhood and have seen a lot of people canvassing for her. She personally came by our house, sent emails and has been very accessible during her campaign. I see all of this as a great sign. Vote for Grand!


Tue, Aug 6, 2013 : 10:15 p.m.

I may not have personally met Kunselman, but at least I know the names of my councilpersons. Shame on you for at least not knowing who your council people are. While I always like to know that new people step forward to run, I am not about to vote for someone (Grand) who will just be anther puppet in the mayor's performance. We need more people to stand up for the citizens' of their wards and not just go along with the mayor on every issue. I may not like everything Kunselman does, but at least I know he is not afraid to speak his mind and he will not just automatically vote with the mayor on every issue.


Tue, Aug 6, 2013 : 10:08 p.m.

Once again proving the power of marketing instead of quality product. The one who spends the most usually wins.

Ingrid Racine

Tue, Aug 6, 2013 : 9:59 p.m.

Hattrix, just out of curiosity, how do you get city council communication from Christopher Taylor? I also live in the 3rd ward (Mitchell neighborhood) and I haven't received any mailings or newsletters-- just curious if there is an email list I should seek out. I've received prompt responses to my emails to Kunselman, and have found him friendly and open to conversation when I've bumped into him at Banfield's...


Tue, Aug 6, 2013 : 9:24 p.m.

Hey, Brad. Read that again. I didn't know that Steve Kunselman was our council person. Christopher Taylor is also our city council person and he communicates with us a lot. As did Leigh Greden. Hopefully we can add Julie Grand to that list. Thanks for your comment.


Tue, Aug 6, 2013 : 8:44 p.m.

Didn't know who your councilperson was? Hmmm.

Colorado Sun

Tue, Aug 6, 2013 : 6:13 p.m.

Heavier turnout at Dicken Elementary is a good sign for Jack Eaton - he lives in that neighborhood and Dicken Woods area 4-7 precinct voters have been his strongest supporters in prior elections. I attended his Allmendinger Park picnic Saturday and many many residents turned out. Jack's supporters will have a post-election gathering at Cubs A.C. tonight commencing at 8:30.

Amy Biolchini

Tue, Aug 6, 2013 : 6:08 p.m.

Many voters at Ann Arbor polls were reluctant to share who they voted for in the 3rd and 4th ward City Council races -- some said it was because they weren't interested, and others relayed the fact that it was such a personal election as the candidates were friends and neighbors. Most seemed to have made up their mind before walking in to the polls.

Vivienne Armentrout

Tue, Aug 6, 2013 : 9:40 p.m.

Glad to hear they had made up their minds! I found myself just once standing in the ballot enclosure trying to decide. (Can't remember what it was, not Council.) At that point the dartboard wins. I was wondering why no one in Ann Arbor has ever tried "exit polling".


Tue, Aug 6, 2013 : 6:06 p.m.

Amy. can you find out how many absentee ballots were cast in these two wards?

Ed Golembiewski

Tue, Aug 6, 2013 : 7:23 p.m.

In addition the absentee result and in-person result for each precinct can be viewed on the County's Election Results page here:

Amy Biolchini

Tue, Aug 6, 2013 : 6:55 p.m.

Great question. I just got off the phone with the city clerk and will be posting a short story shortly (say that 10 times fast, hah) on the subject. To give you the scoop: 1,053 absentee ballots were issued in the 3rd and 4th wards.


Tue, Aug 6, 2013 : 5:47 p.m.

I was at a township poll this morning and the turn out is pathetic. The apathy of those with suffrage is downright shameful.


Wed, Aug 7, 2013 : 2:06 a.m.

When I voted at 6:30? There were only 47 that voted. Total sad.

Chelsea Hoedl

Tue, Aug 6, 2013 : 6:33 p.m.

Workers at the Polo Fields polling location said they expect around 100 people to vote at their location by the end of the day. I also talked to workers at the Free Methodist Church polling location who gave a similar estimate and said they are usually busiest between 5 and poll-close when people are off work.