Anti-tax proposal candidates bid for Ypsilanti Council seats in 2 of 3 wards
After two tax proposals were defeated by a 2-1 margin on May 8, volunteers of the group opposed to the taxes called for fresh blood to replace Ypsilanti City Council members who supported them.
Those calls were made as its treasurer and volunteer, Steve Pierce, delivered what was essentially a victory speech at a celebration on election night.
A week later, Pierce, along with Mike Eller, another Stop City Income Tax volunteer, are among the challengers hoping to unseat two incumbents who supported the taxes in the first and third wards.
In the August 7 Democratic primaries, Pierce will face Mayor Pro Tem Lois Richardson in ward 1, while Eller will face Council Member Peter Murdock in ward 3. Ted Windish, who has twice run for council but lost in 2008 and 2010, is also running in ward 3.
There is no mayoral election this year and in ward 2, Susan Moeller is running unopposed in the Democratic primary after Council Member Mike Bodary recently announced he will not seek re-election to spend more time with his family and focus on his job.
Pierce was not immediately available for comment, but Eller said there is no coordination between his campaign and Pierce’s.
Pierce, who runs Wireless Ypsi, was defeated by Mayor Paul Schreiber in the mayoral primary in 2006. He campaigned for Council Member Peter Murdock in Murdock's failed bid for mayor in 2010.
Murdock was elected to council in 2008 in part for his work on a campaign that helped defeat a 2007 city income tax proposal. He defeated Windish and Eller, who were running as independents.
His support for the new income tax proposal and Water Street debt retirement millage cost him some of his previous supporters.
Eller said he believes that makes Murdock - who has served as mayor and on city council periodically since the late 1970s - vulnerable. But he called Murdock a “very smart man” and “savvy politician”.
“I’m not taking anything for granted,” said Eller, who is 52-years-old and owns the Populist Cleaning Company.
Eller said he had been contemplating a run at the seat for several months but was increasingly urged to do so over the last month by SCIT volunteers and his neighbors.
“I think that people see that council and city government has had two regimes over the last 20-30 years. There has not been a whole lot change and we’re not in a good spot right now,” he said. “There’s a lot more that we can do that we haven’t done. It requires some different thinking and bringing new blood to the table.”
He said he voted against both tax proposals and believes the city hasn’t explored all its options in balancing its budget.
“There are a lot of rocks left to be turned over and looked under before we say 'Let’s put a tax on the back of the residents,'” he said.
Eller said he has never been a member of the Republican Party and has been a member of the Democratic Party for the last two to three years.
Windish, 52, said he voted for the Water Street debt retirement millage because it had an expiration date and voted against the income tax proposal.
“If the millage and income tax went through, that would have castrated us in Ypsilanti in terms of business,” said Windish, who owns AAAbsolutely Best lawn Care and a nursery where he produces flowers to sell at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market.
But he said paying for “the Water Street debacle” out of the general fund will present the city with significant financial challenges.
“I realize police won't work for free and fire won’t work for free and Waste Management doesn’t work for us because they love us,” he said.
He asked what the city has been doing to attract development to Water Street and said it needs to figure out a better plan to attract development.
“It appears (Council) have lost their way they just haven’t found it,” Windish said.