Slate of 10 candidates aims to unseat incumbents in Ypsilanti Township elections
A group of 10 candidates is hoping to bring drastic change to Ypsilanti Township’s elected offices.
The group, which is calls itself "Y-Town Future”, is running candidates for supervisor, clerk, treasurer, three trustee seats and four park commission seats in the August 7 Democratic primaries.
Stumbo has served as supervisor since 2008 when she defeated Y-Town Future’s candidate for clerk, Ruth Ann Jamnick. Jamnick defeated incumbent Clerk Karen Lovejoy-Roe for the supervisor’s seat in 2004, before losing to Stumbo in 2008. She has also served as a state representative and Ypsilanti Township treasurer in her long political career. Brenda Meadows is also listed among the candidates but couldn't be reached by AnnArbor.com.
Roe and incumbent treasurer Larry Doe are seeking re-election. Doe faces a challenge from Larry Davis, pastor of the Christian Tabernacle Baptist Church and owner of Hallelujah Beauty & Barber Shop.
Incumbent trustees Jean Hall-Currie, Mike Martin, Stan Eldridge and Scott Martin are also seeking re-election.
They are facing challenges from Carlton Fields, who has worked as a teacher at Lincoln High School and is seeking a second master’s degree from Grand Canyon University; Maria Sheler-Edwards, who is a public relations and marketing specialist at the University of Michigan; and Sylvia Spurlock, an administrative assistant with an investment banking firm.
Park Commissioners Debbie Swanson, Carissa Collins-Watson and Monica Ross-Williams are incumbents seeking to retain their seats. Gail Boyd-Palmer is seeking a seat on the Park Commission.
Lonnie Scott is also running for the commission, though he isn't involved with Y-Town Future.
Central to Ypsi-Future’s campaign is the argument that the township should have prevented blight from becoming an issue and is now spending significant resources on addressing problems associated with it.
“That shouldn’t be a story right now,” Hoops said. “That should have never been allowed to exist. If things were done properly that would have never come to fruition. If the township were enforcing codes and ordinances, you never would’ve had these places that are so dilapidated that they need to be demolished.”
Hoops also charged that the current voting majority on the board of trustees has been in place for over 20 years, questioned why there is little dissent to the majority opinion and questioned why the board regularly votes 7-0 on issues.
“That I find very interesting,” he said, highlighting that Y-Town future comes from diverse background geographically, in their education and socioeconomically. “It doesn’t seem like anyone has their own minds. It boggles my mind that so many things can be so thought of that everyone votes the same way.”
Lovejoy-Roe said the current elected officials have a strong team that works well together and has been able to increase the township's fund balance despite facing huge economic challenges from declining property revenues and a dramatically shrunken industrial tax base. She said they have largely maintained services while addressing blight issues caused by the economic downturn.
“(Other municipalities) are calling us and asking how we’re doing this, how we are pulling this off,” she said.
She said the current group in office is “uniquely qualified” because they “been through the worst” of the economic downturn and “come out on top.”
“Everyone is on the same page and working well together and there isn’t all the bickering that there was when Ruth Ann was supervisor,” Lovejoy-Roe said. “Our ability to work together and put residents first beyond our own politics and personal motives has helped the township.”
Stumbo said the number of rentals for single family homes has increased by 118 percent since 2008 and the township has responded with a team that includes ordinance, building, legal, fire and residents who report the issues.
"I am not sure my opponent understands the full impact of the housing crisis and the far reaching consequences it has had in our neighborhoods," Stumbo said. "The number one investment people make is in their home or business. We have been working together for the last three and half years to restore and maintain values in spite of the economic tsunami that has hit the State of Michigan and our community."