2 potential challengers emerge in races for Ann Arbor City Council
Two potential challengers known for their leadership on city boards and commissions have emerged in this year's races for the Ann Arbor City Council.
Planning Commission Chairman Kirk Westphal announced Thursday night he's planning to run against 2nd Ward incumbent Jane Lumm.
Meanwhile, Julie Grand, chairwoman of the city's Park Advisory Commission, is hoping to unseat 3rd Ward incumbent Stephen Kunselman.
They've each pulled nominating petitions from the city clerk's office. They now have until the May 14 filing deadline to submit 100 signatures to officially appear on the ballot.
Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com
No other candidates have entered either race.
AnnArbor.com spoke with Westphal and Grand about the reasons they're running. Both said it's a chance to continue their service to the city at a higher level.
"I received a lot of positive feedback, so I'm just really interested in making a positive contribution to the city on a larger scale," Grand said.
"I love public service," Westphal said. "I have had an incredibly rewarding time on the Planning Commission and the Environmental Commission and other civic-oriented volunteer opportunities, so I think I'm ready to step in and play another role."
Westphal and Grand are both well known around city hall, and they speak positively of the city's leadership, including Mayor John Hieftje.
"I put great stock in people's track records, and I think we need to acknowledge that a lot of credit should go to the city's leadership in terms of where we are today," Westphal said.
Lumm and Kunselman have questioned the mayor's priorities, particularly the push for a new train station on Fuller Road.
"It's pretty clear that I have distanced myself from the mayor's policies and I expect Julie will be supporting the mayor's policies," Kunselman said of the differences between him and his opponent.
"I think I do have the mayor's support in this race, but it doesn't necessarily mean I'm his lackey or his puppet," Grand said. "I'm capable of making my own decisions."
Grand came to Ann Arbor in 1996 after graduating from Bryn Mawr College. Except for two years she spent living in the Detroit suburbs, she's lived here ever since.
She is a lecturer in health policy studies at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. She holds both a master's degree and Ph.D. in public health from U-M in Ann Arbor.
Grand has served on PAC since 2007. She also serves on the city's North Main-Huron River Vision Task Force and the subcommittee that crafted the plan for a greenway park at 721 N. Main. She also has been on task forces charged with improving the city's golf courses and senior center.
On PAC she has served alongside fellow Burns Park resident Christopher Taylor, who is the other 3rd Ward representative on the City Council.
"I think we would make for a good partnership on council," Grand said. "I feel like his process is thoughtful and I appreciate as a constituent how he reaches out to us."
Westphal, a native of New York, moved to Ann Arbor with his wife in 2005 after 12 years living in New York City. His wife took a job with the University of Michigan as a musical theatre faculty member, and he quickly enrolled in U-M's urban planning masters program.
Westphal, who holds a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of Pennsylvania and now a master's in urban planning, runs a company called Westphal Associates, which researches and produces documentary videos generally about best practices in cities and local government.
Just because he came from New York, Westphal said that doesn't mean he's interested in "the Manhattanization of Ann Arbor."
"I don't think we are in any way going to become a mini-Manhattan," he said. "We have unique strengths as a mid-size city and we are a regional and increasingly national player in terms of being an attractive place to live and I think there is always opportunity to grow even stronger."
Westphal served on the committee that helped craft the Downtown Development Authority's Connecting William Street plan for future redevelopment of five city-owned properties downtown. He also served on the city's Design Guidelines Task Force.
Some of the differences between Lumm and Westphal already are apparent. Lumm has repeatedly questioned the city's efforts to advance multiple public transit initiatives simultaneously, including a new train station, commuter rail between Ann Arbor and Detroit, and the connector project that's starting to look at future options for a high-capacity transit system such as light rail or bus rapid transit.
Those are all efforts Westphal supports.
"I'm strongly pro-environment, pro-transit and non-motorized transportation, and strongly pro-alternative energy," he said. "I believe there's a great number of my ward mates who share those values and I'd like the opportunity to represent them."
Asked more specifically about a new train station, Westphal said: "I think we need to really decide as a community where our priorities lie. I happen to be a huge advocate of transit and rail. If the community decides it's a smart investment, I would certainly be in favor of that."
Lumm could not be reached for comment.
Grand said there's not one particular issue on which she's running, but she is concerned about the divisiveness she's seen on council. She sees differences between herself and Kunselman.
"I think we have a different approach to government," she said. "I feel like I have a consensus-driven leadership style, so I tend to listen to all the opinions around me and try to find common ground to make a decision, and I think that's been fairly successful on PAC."
Kunselman sees Grand's candidacy this way: Supporters of the mayor are putting up another candidate to try to oust him in retaliation for defeating Leigh Greden, an ally of the mayor, in 2009.
"Basically it's the same group," Kunselman said. "I always expect to have an opponent and that's what happens when you knock off Leigh Greden. I call this the Greden grudge group."
Grand laughed off Kunselman's assertion that she's trying to settle a score.
"I'm not doing this because this is my good friend and I'm avenging his six-vote defeat," she said. "It's really not the motivation. The motivation is I'm term-limited on the Park Advisory Commission in October, I did a lot of thinking about what I want to do next in terms of career and community involvement, and I feel like I've just been raised to do this from birth."
Grand explained she was raised with a strong ethic of public and community service and her decision to run was influenced by those values instilled in her at an early age.
Five council members are up for re-election this year, but so far three 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.
Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for AnnArbor.com. Reach him at email@example.com or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to AnnArbor.com's email newsletters.
Sun, Mar 24, 2013 : 2:36 p.m.
Ann Arborites owe a huge debt to Pat Lesko for continually uncovering facts and corruption behind the facade of official pronouncments. She posted a comment here that all should read for the info it contains. Under it, Ryan Stanton asks her some questions (thanks, Ryan), and she posts even more crucial info regarding our recycling program.
Sat, Mar 23, 2013 : 1:31 p.m.
Why even bother with an election? Why not just have them interview with the current city council to assure they are liberal enough to serve the residents of OZ?
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 9:07 p.m.
I sincerely hope someone runs against Marcia Higgins in the 4th Ward ! Two invisible women in one Ward is two too many !!!
Sat, Mar 23, 2013 : 1:01 p.m.
And their being women is relevant how?
Frustrated in A2
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 7:31 p.m.
I wonder if Jack Eaton is going to put his hat in the ring again for the 4th ward.
Sat, Mar 23, 2013 : 6:48 p.m.
Jack told me he has no plans to run. I hope he changes his mind. Marcia Higgins has been solicitous to his wishes, I think he is satisfied. Marcia also gets to keep her seat by being nice to Jack.
Sat, Mar 23, 2013 : 6:48 p.m.
Jack should run for Mayor!
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 10:25 p.m.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 7:18 p.m.
Bingo! "Unless Mr. Westphal can show he spoke out against awarding multiple six-figure contracts to fellow Environmental Commission member David Stead's employer (RRSI) as a part of the switch to single-stream, and unless Mr. Westphal can show he spoke out against awarding a $10M no bid contract to Recycle Ann Arbor, I have no confidence in his ability to recognize ethical lapses, conflicts of interest and the financial impact of cronyism on taxpayers". Ryan, maybe you can ask the Mayor's candidate about these issues? The key to good reporting is 'folow the money'...as you know...
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 6:10 p.m.
If you want to judge the influence of the anti-Hieftje grumps, just remember that in all his elections the mayor has never lost a precinct.
Mon, Mar 25, 2013 : 2:11 p.m.
That's pretty easy to do when you never have a serious primary opponent and are often unopposed in the general election.
Sat, Mar 23, 2013 : 6:45 p.m.
Perhaps that is because Kwame Hieftje and his gang got the only election that matters (the Democrat primary) moved to August when most voters are gone, and not focused on local politics - easier to win elections when half the electorate is out of town for one reason or another - and Kwame's gang is well organized and disciplined when it comes to voting. I'm sure they vote early and often!
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 7:23 p.m.
Most voters can't see past the D on the ballot. Ann Arbor survives because of the University and the vast resources that brings to the area. This city would thrive if it weren't held back by Hieftje, his cronies, and his 19th Century ideas.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 5:23 p.m.
Jane Lumm is sensible, level-headed, and she's done a great job representing the 2nd ward and keeping Ann Arbor on a reasonable track. I'd vote for her again just to minimize the back-room decision making and cronyism that this council got so used to in years past.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 5:22 p.m.
Mr. Westphal is on the Environmental Commission. These are the folks who brought us single-stream recycling for $8 million and promises of rainbows, unicorns, and doubled recycling collection rates. Not only were these collection rate predictions way off the mark (they were projected by the company of one of Westphal's colleagues on the Environmental Commission), overall diversion rates have FALLEN since single-stream was implemented, according to the recent 5 Year Solid Waste Plan. We're paying exponentially more for recycling, and more materials are ending up in the landfill than before Mr. Westphal and his colleagues recommended to Council that we spend $8M to upgrade the MRF and switch to single-stream recycling. Now, the Environmental Commission, Mr. Westphal included, is pushing for taxpayers to foot the bill for the construction of a new MRF. In addition, Mr. Westphal would like to cut the frequency of garbage collection, as one of the authors of the new 5 Year Solid Waste Plan. That's not my main concern, however. Unless Mr. Westphal can show he spoke out against awarding multiple six-figure contracts to fellow Environmental Commission member David Stead's employer (RRSI) as a part of the switch to single-stream, and unless Mr. Westphal can show he spoke out against awarding a $10M no bid contract to Recycle Ann Arbor, I have no confidence in his ability to recognize ethical lapses, conflicts of interest and the financial impact of cronyism on taxpayers. The city needs Council members who are strongly ethical and scrupulously honest rather than strongly "pro-environment and pro-transit." Mr. Westphal's contributions on the Environmental Commission have cost taxpayers wasted millions, and have sent millions of tonnes of additional waste to our landfill.
Sat, Mar 23, 2013 : 10:07 p.m.
Maybe Ms. Lesko and Mr. McMurtrie are measuring different things, although it seems hard to reconcile the two estimates of the cost of single-stream recycling. I personally am delighted that I am able to discard a lot more materials than I was before. I used to take our "true trash/garbage" out every week. Now, with single-stream, I take it out every 3 weeks.
Sat, Mar 23, 2013 : 8:52 p.m.
Ryan, I was at the EC meeting at which Tom McM presented the proposed 5 Year Solid Waste Plan. I spoke because when I studied the proposed plan it showed our overall diversion rate had dropped, and that the plan was focused on recycling (which is only good for the company with the collections contract). After I spoke, Tom McM. told the EC that the diversion rate problem was because leaf pick-up had stopped. Seriously? More materials are going to the landfill because the city stopped picking up leaves? This focus on total tonnes collected is playing politics with the environment. Keeping materials out of the landfill is what matters, and after spending millions to implement single stream we're increasing the total amount of materials sent to the landfill and the amount paid for collections. That 68 percent he boasts about is single-family households. Multi-family and business recycling goals from the previous Solid Waste Plan were never met. Collections are up 20%? McM sold SS by projecting collections would double, and we'd save a bundle. The 10/yr no bid Recycle Ann Arbor contract revision took a huge bite out of the projected increase in revenues. The projections were: $30,000 annual savings in recycling Dumpster collection, $450,000 annual savings in curbside recycling and $450,000 annual revenues from merchant MRF users. The bottom line is this: SS was implemented based on empty promises. There were no bid contracts and contracts given to the company that employs EC member David Stead (that's cronyism). Recycle Ann Arbor came back for a taxpayer bailout and got it. RAA also got a lengthy no bid contract. Twice. If Mr. Westphal spoke out against these no bid contracts and cronyism, if he voted against these no bid contracts and cronyism, let's have the dates of the meetings and the video clips.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 10:24 p.m.
Ms. Lesko, please consider running for the first ward seat this year as an independent. The city could really use someone like you to keep things in line and fight the excessive spending habits of our current administration.
Ryan J. Stanton
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 10:07 p.m.
Pat, It's been a while since I went back and looked at the single-stream recycling issue, but I will take a close look at what you're claiming. Can you cite specific sources for the information you provided? It seems contrary to the following statement put out by Tom McMurtrie today: Just for clarification of the record, we invested $3.6 million in our recycling facility. The City has received $2.8 million from the sale of recyclable materials since single stream started. Recycling tonnages are up about 20%. 68% of the public say that they are recycling greater amounts with single stream than before. 74% say that they are increasing the variety of materials that they recycle.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 6:39 p.m.
C'mon! Since switching to Single Stream, my skin has cleared up, I've stopped snoring, the Lions won the Superbowl...
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 4:54 p.m.
So Mr High Rise is trying to change back the makeup of council to fit his needs. Let us hope that the citizens of the respective districts do not reward him so. Now if only we could be rid of Higgins ...
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 4:20 p.m.
big questions: Will these aspirants support a "Library Green" and civic space on the surface of the underground parking by the library, or vote to sell it to the highest bidder and biggest building? This will influence the future of Ann Arbor downtown for years. So far the Mayor and his sell-it-all-and-build-it-biggest friends have been wrong. Will these aspirants hold firm to stop the out of scale monster building at East Huron and Division? Or will they buckle to out of state developers' will to profiteer on the ruin of our town?
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 4:06 p.m.
I guess the opposition to the Major is being felt! Voters will decide if they want to go back to a City Council who always agrees with him.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 3:47 p.m.
Did any of these people graduate from Ann Arbor schools or are they all aliens?
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 3:45 p.m.
Tom Vanderbilt -- While you proclaim your favoritism for the Mayor and acknowledge that Mr.. Westphal and Ms. Grand will align themselves with the Mayor, you do not mention what future plans the Mayor offers that are so enticing to you. Could the potentially $66 million dollar new railroad station excite you as it does the Mayor even though only six commuters may get off and on each workday and another 130 passengers proceed to Chicago on a train that could carry over 300? Do you like the Connecting William Street plan that will build 12- and 14-story buildings on four city properties which are presently financially productive parking lots? Do you realize that construction on those sites will be entirely speculative without anyone knowing who will occupy the buildings and whether they will be successful enterprises? Do you like the idea of a handful of amateur art critics, appointed by the mayor, spending tax dollars on public art like the $700,000 Dreiseitl monstrosity outside the Municipal Build or the $150,000 chandelier which is destined to hang inside the Municipal Building? The Mayor had veto power over those projects. Under the patronage of the Mayor and his supporters the city has spent excessively and unwisely for an overly large subterranean library parking structure that is now saddling the DDA with a debt load that likely will contribute to its insolvency. Overly burdened by debt already, the DDA with its Mayor appointees is adding still more debt by financing the parking facility associated with the Village Green's Ann Arbor City Apartments project. Ms. Grand and Mr. Westphal can be expected to support the Mayor's profligate spending pattern and will not constitute a deliberative pairing such as is provided by Ms. Lumm and Mr. Kunselman now.
Sun, Mar 24, 2013 : 2:02 p.m.
He just meant the Mayor says "hi" to him at parties.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 3:45 p.m.
"Both challengers are running as Democrats" Shocking!!!
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 3:38 p.m.
I'm in Kunselman's ward and have only disdain for him. In an email exchange on city issues it was clear that he was not interested in hearing his own constituent's opinion and clearly not interested in hearing my opinion. He was incredibly arrogant, uncaring, and dismissive. It was apparent to me he is only interested in furthering his own goals, which had nothing to do with those of us in his ward. I don't know Grand, but I do know that she has my total support. While not in his ward, I do know Westphal and know of him to be intelligent, respective, and articulate.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 5:40 p.m.
You have a councilperson who returns e-mails? Oh - you don't live in the 4th ward.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 3:28 p.m.
Incredibly, I've now had 2 comments here deleted. Both on the topic of media propaganda. No obscenities, no name-calling, no slanderous statements, etc.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 3:17 p.m.
"Reading the comments here and seeing what's been voted up and down, you'd think Ann Arbor was a right-leaning town. " Good rule of thumb with annarbor.com: The degree to which a politician or policy is supported or opposed on the pages of these message boards is inversely proportional to its actual support or opposition by the voters of Ann Arbor.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 5:40 p.m.
@sig - a lot of the people on the losing side of the recent new library proposal said exactly the same thing - BEFORE the election. After - not so much.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 3:47 p.m.
Since AnnArbor.com is on the Internet, segments of reality do make it on to the website, much to the dismay of Annarborites.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 3:36 p.m.
Hi sig- I think your comment is a good reinforcer as to why we encourage all readers to weigh in if they have the time to do so. We welcome all sides to express their thoughts, and while it is understandable the scales may be tipped to one side or another on certain topics, the more input everyone weighs in the more balanced the conversation often is.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 3:10 p.m.
All of the candidates for Ann Arbor city offices should address the top priorities to enhance and restore its livability, i.e.: Police and fire protection Road maintenance/improvement
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 2:40 p.m.
Kirk is a good guy, smart, open, thoughtful, cares about Ann Arbor, and full of ideas to make living here better for everyone. Just talk with Kirk, he'll listen.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 2:10 p.m.
Reading the comments here and seeing what's been voted up and down, you'd think Ann Arbor was a right-leaning town. Mercifully, that's not the case. Lumm will have to sink or swim at the polls based on her anti-transit, anti-development, anti-common-sense attitude. As we've seen time and time again, the grumps so active in A2.com comments don't represent the views of people who actually live in Ann Arbor and vote.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 5:38 p.m.
"As we've seen time and time again, the grumps so active in A2.com comments don't represent the views of people who actually live in Ann Arbor and vote." So how did Ms. Lumm get on council then? And please remember that Ms. Teall escaped the last "primary" by the slimmest of margins. And with any luck she will escape the next one not at all.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 5:26 p.m.
"anti-common-sense attitude"? Are you kidding? She might be the ONLY one on council with a shred of common sense!
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 2:26 p.m.
"Anti-giant-student-storage-towers" is not the same as "anti-development." "Anti-transit" is not the same as "anti-boondoggle," either. Just because Lumm is not in lock-step with the mayor, his developer pals and his council followers does not mean she isn't interested in the good of the city. Maybe you can defend those assertions?
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 2:08 p.m.
"Grand came to Ann Arbor in 1996" "I feel like I've just been raised to do this from birth." I think she may be misinterpreting her tea leaves.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 2:03 p.m.
So, Kwame Hieftje, the Great Corrupter, has found a couple more shills to run-up the electoral flagpole. I see that, like Kwame, visions of choo-choo trains, and endless taxpayer dollars to squander on useless pet projects, dance in their heads. Not in my ward, so not my decision, but they would NEVER get my vote. Hopefully, voters in their wards, will feel likewise.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 2:01 p.m.
Lumm and Kunselman seem, more or less, like political ding-bats, but I cherish them for their consistent opposition to High-Rise Hieftje. Plus, Westphal seems like a carpet-bagger from NYC. No thanks.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 3:06 p.m.
Thank you, annarbor.com, for changing Lumm's photo.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 2 p.m.
I'd rather see an independent like Jane Lumm who is willing to buck the system instead of falling to ground and kissing the mayor's feet at every request.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 1:48 p.m.
@Goober: "A Democrat replacing a Democrat will not help our city." For the past few years I've looked beyond a city council candidate's 'label' to examine what they personally think... Re: NY developers & skyscrapers downtown; preserving our history; the ethics of using, say, the water budget for art; fixing our long-neglected roads; responsible and caring public safety; stormwater management; parklands for parks only; DDA skimming taxes from public schools, libraries, and city general fund; funding basic services; fiscal responsibility. There's a lot more... I will vote for a person from any party who basically agrees with my thinking on the above list. So far these have not been candidates recruited by the mayor, those in his inner circle, or those on commissions (which he recruits for.)
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 2:50 p.m.
@Goober. No. I've voted for dems, reps, independents, and greens - all were candidates for city council who's ideas resonated with my own. I pay little attention to the labels, and take the time to look into a candidate's views on current city issues.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 2:40 p.m.
So - only self-identified Democrats have ideas that align with yours? It seems that only Democrats are elected by the voters in AA. I would recommend that the new candidates identify themselves as independents. If they did, they would not be elected in AA.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 2:29 p.m.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 1:33 p.m.
Wow. Sorry, Ms Grand. Any politician that feels that they have some kind of birthright to an office better be named Kennedy or Dingell.. Or Rockefeller or Daly... Or Kilpatrick or Levin... Delusions of GRANDeur.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 2:28 p.m.
Citizens who hold candidates--especially first-time ones--accountable for every minor misspoken statement get politicians elected instead of community servants. This isn't a statement about Grand. Why the clarification? Because some will misinterpret it as such without asking for clarification. Of course, carefully chosen words are lost on those who seek words to criticize. Elections are more about voters than candidates, but so many voters don't realize it. How little time we spend directly communicating our preferences and concerns to representatives and candidates relative to our hours upon hours of broadcast griping and hand wringing.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 1:24 p.m.
I'm sure that AnnArbor.com has Jane Lumm's campaign portrait still on file (or can retrieve it from that coverage). There have likely been quite a number of candid shots from her tenure on Council. So why is such an unflattering portrait used? (It appears to have been from a campaign debate, so is not recent.) Was this an editorial decision?
Sat, Mar 23, 2013 : 10:16 p.m.
It's disappointing to read a reporter (Stanton) using the term 'nit-picky' to describe a reader. It seems that reporters should have the utmost respect for readers. And, of all people, they would understand the power of the media, both words and images (I refer to Lumm's photo.)
Sat, Mar 23, 2013 : 6:45 p.m.
I like the photo used. I also like the "sugarbowl" haircut of JaneLumm. It is very becoming.
Sam S Smith
Sat, Mar 23, 2013 : 12:53 p.m.
Better yet, I hope Armentrout runs for mayor! She'd have my vote for sure!
Sat, Mar 23, 2013 : 11:35 a.m.
As usual, a very saavy comment by Vivienne. I hope she runs for council again---and that AA.com can find a nice photo of her.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 6:21 p.m.
Nitpicky? Use a nicer photo of Westphal if you like. Putting the worst face out for a sitting politician is in itself a political statement. I think you are saying that you chose the original Lumm photo purposely? That's not the way to achieve "balance". Looking at the Westphal photo again, he does not look unpleasant, merely very serious and focused.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 2:30 p.m.
No slight intended and yet it's the same shot you use every time.
Ryan J. Stanton
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 2:20 p.m.
Vivienne, if we're going to get nit-picky, Kirk Westphal has the exact same expression on his face as Lumm had in the previous picture that was up. I thought the photos were well balanced. But I can see how juxtaposed under Kunselman's smiling mug you might raise that concern.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 2:01 p.m.
No slight to Jane Lumm was intended in using this photo, but we've changed it.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 1:37 p.m.
Lumm's "Rebekah Warren Glamour Shot" pic was not available at the time of publishing.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 1:04 p.m.
Good news, I'm excited to hear that Kirk Westphal is running. This is a big positive for Ann Arbor.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 3:40 p.m.
Really? Exactly what do you expect him to do on City Council, other than look to the Mayor for indications on how he should vote? Does he have any extraordinary ideas to express at City Council? What constitutes a "big positive"?
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 12:51 p.m.
What is their forward thinking position on building a spaceport in town?? We need to do a study on this and start planning for the future! Potholes just aren't cool enough....
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 12:40 p.m.
Westphal has a smart and calm head on his shoulders. He will make good decisions on behalf of Ann Arbor residents. His commitment to transit, non-motorized transportation, and alternative energy is what the city council needs to lead the community forward.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 3:30 p.m.
Nora, how do you know what decisions Westphal will make on behalf of Ann Arbor residents and how do you know that Ms. Lumm would not make good decisions? What disagreement do you have with Ms. Lumm's positions or actions so far? How do you know that the transit system being considered is necessary and will be cost effective? All passenger railroad systems require subsidies. Lately, the federal and state governments have been reducing support for rail systems rather than increasing or even maintaining support. Should Ann Arbor taxpayers provide the $66 million that may be required to build a new railroad station? And how much subsidies will be required to properly operate the railroad station each year? Anyway no one has any idea what Wetphal and Grand will bring to City Council. Lumm and Kunselman have records, for sure, which, if examined impartially, will be creditable.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 12:35 p.m.
When Westphal was a newborn, in the hosp nursery, he Knew what he wanted to be when he grew up? How Very Strange . . .
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 6:45 p.m.
Ryan, you are so correct! Mr. Westphal, I apologize. Ms. Grand, I acknowledge that you have been training for a spot on the City Council for a very long time. My error on the attribution; years ago I took a speed reading course and have been applying those principles to reading aa.com. As Warren Buffet famously said: "Reading is my job. I do it 16 hours a day, but there is a limit; I only have two eyeballs." — or words to that effect . . .
Ryan J. Stanton
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 1:19 p.m.
You've taken the quote a little out of context and attributed it to the wrong person.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 12:32 p.m.
"Westphal and Grand are both well known around city hall, and they speak positively of the city's leadership, including Mayor John Hieftje." Anyone who does this definitely DOES NOT have My vote! We don't need more of King John's cronies!
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 12:31 p.m.
Kunselman and Lumm are no longer the challengers and need to realize that they now have records to be judged by. It is always easier to just run a "no to everything campaign, but the public needs to ask themselves "what have they actually done for us?"...."Have they moved the city forward in anyway?"...."have they fixed any of the old problems?" the answer to the all those questions is NOTHING. Kunselman isl blaming Greden because his constituents are now unhappy with the job he is doing. Wake up kunselman. People are unhappy with the job YOU are doing. Kunselman and Lumm are not leaders in any sense of the word. They complain about issues and run on rhetoric, but when it comes down to actually making any reforms they fail in every aspect. They either bring up an idea that is not actionable, an idea that is not viable or legal or an idea that is so unpopular no one in their contingent will support it. Budget talks are going on now. Yeah, it is great to want more police, but what are you going to cut to get more police? Are you going to take money from parks, from human services, from roads? There is only so much money to go around. It may be easy to complain about a future train station that is not effecting the budget when arguing for more police, but it is not practical. A leader can do two things at one time, plan for the future and future needs, while dealing with present issues. For some reason, Kunselman and Lumm have now proven that they are incapable of this. I say the city should try some new ideas and Grand and Kunselman should be able to bring in those fresh ideas.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 2:58 p.m.
Forward Progress -- No one will believe you unless you provide specific examples of poor positions that Lumm and Kunselman have taken and, while at it, provide examples of the "new ideas" professed by Grand and Westphal. If you actual have observed City Council in action then you must admit that both Lumm and Kunselman provide detailed facts to support their contentions and if they are against a resolution they provide alternatives or acceptable modifications. By the way, the future train station has a $2.6 million expense listed for the FY 2015 budget. You are not aware of that even though it has been mentioned in articles at annarbor.com and, of course, is listed online with the projected budget.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 2:46 p.m.
"A leader can do two things at one time, plan for the future and future needs, while dealing with present issues." Given the state of our roads and other infrastructure, hizzoner clearly fails as a leader. He has focused on his beloved choo-choo trains to the detriment of those things that our taxes are supposed to provide.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 12:48 p.m.
"the public needs to ask themselves "what have they actually done for us?" Well what they have tried to do is slow down the Mayors freight train. That's about all they can attempt to do. "I say the city should try some new ideas and Grand and Kunselman should be able to bring in those fresh ideas." Are you typing that with a straight face? I doubt it. New Ideas? LOL. You mean the Mayor and his posse don't bring forth "fresh ideas." The D's remind me of the clicks in high school. It does not matter what is going on around them as long as the click sticks together.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 12:28 p.m.
As mentioned just rubber stamps for choo choo charley....
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 12:24 p.m.
Complaining that Lumm did not support green inititives that currently make no economic sense and only sound good to those who have no idea of what the costs are versus the returns is nuts. Don't believe it, take the time to do a little research, stop buying the BS that is passed around and presented as facts. Passing stuff so you can get a "warm and fuzzy feeling" spending other peoples money is not good leadership.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 12:15 p.m.
Only two? I would have thought that with all of the people that post here about how they know best how to run things that there would have been a dozen new candidates.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 10:20 p.m.
It takes a certain type of person to open themselves to the scrutiny that comes with Ann Arbor politics. That is one reason we have the type of "leadership" we have had for the last 10 years or so...thoughtful people shy away from the grind that politics imposes on what might otherwise be a rewarding way to serve your community.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 12:12 p.m.
" and they speak positively of the city's leadership, including Mayor John Hieftje." .....and that, of course is the most important thing.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 12:11 p.m.
Having all Democrats or all Republicans control ANY form of government is not a good thing. Having one party in COMPLETE control without dissension is akin to marrying your cousin. Nothing good will come from it.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 5:21 p.m.
Veracity Progeny appears to be whats happening.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 2:42 p.m.
Party politics are really not as important at the city government level. If you watch the City Council meetings live or on CTN you must certainly notice the amount of discussion and difference of opinion that occurs. Do you want Republicans on the City Council introducing resolutions to impair women's rights, or to replace our public school system with schools of choice, or to impose an income tax on anyone earning less than $250,000 a year, or to deny rights to our gay community? Although we do not see state and national political issues at the city level, you should be aware that Washtenaw County voted 70% for Democrats in the last election. By the way, I would not be surprised to learn that some cousin marriages do very well, except for the risks to progeny.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 1:42 p.m.
There is a sizable faction, now, of councilmen/women intent on keeping the most profligate tendencies of the mayor in check. If Westphal and Grand win seats, that faction will be reduced by two.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 12:05 p.m.
" Grand said. "I will probably agree with the mayor more times than my opponent will, though." "It's pretty clear that I have distanced myself from the mayor's policies and I expect Julie will be supporting the mayor's policies," Kunselman said of the differences between him and his opponent." reason enough for me to vote for Kunselman though I am not a big fan. I think what would serve this city well would be political gridlock. Thats what I think. I fully realize others won't agree. The problem with politicians is they always think they need to be DOING SOMETHING. That seems commendable until you pause to realize they do something with somebody else's money.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 2:16 p.m.
It's not even about the money, Craig. It's mainly the distraction from reality and the lives of current residents, including children, due to a focus on an unrealistic future vision.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 11:55 a.m.
What one of them calls "divisiveness" the rest of us call "refusal to go with the Mayor's group-think". We think that is a GOOD thing.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 11:54 a.m.
"Both challengers are running as Democrats, which means" that the citizens of OZ won't have to listen to ANY views other than those of the czar Hieftje! Contrary to your view from the mountain top Tom Vanderbilt. I don't think we want to model our city after the type of dictators that we see around the world. Even those have started to fall.To characterize ANY opposing view as negative is very disingenuous!
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 1:01 p.m.
I didn't infer that Tom Vanderbilt was saying that any opposing view is negative. The simple fact is that the comments on this blog and the candidates statements are negative. Kunselman and Lumm consistently say NO, criticize any new is idea, and are never willing to compromise to get anything done. This is all negative speech. Opposing views are fine, they just have to come with realistic alternatives. Alternatives that never materialize under Lumm and Kunselman.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 12:18 p.m.
Put your name in the ring. What forms of dictatorship have you seen in Ann Arbor? Has voting been curtailed or forbidden? Has the press been rounded up and imprisoned? Or are you full of hyperbole?
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 11:49 a.m.
These two seem to want to direct progress instead of just stopping progress. Lumm's opposition to solar energy and mass transit is telling. It's time to bring Ann Arbor into the 21st century with some new faces and new ideas.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 11:59 a.m.
Tell me how choo-choo trains are so 21st Century? Choo-choo trains are from the 19th century. What's progressive about that?
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 11:56 a.m.
I am all for new faces. But lets wipe the slate clean. What you really mean is lets get more drones in here that agree with you.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 11:46 a.m.
I say we need to add more like Lumm to council. So who can we get in the 4th ward to start the turnaround there?
Mon, Mar 25, 2013 : 2:03 p.m.
Agreed. Two lackeys of the Mayor who rarely show up. We have to have the worst representation in the city. If I had the free time, I wouldn't mind running against Higgins. She's ripe to be knocked off, I think Eric Scheie put up about 40% against her last time in the general.
Sat, Mar 23, 2013 : 9:21 p.m.
well, Brad, why don't you step up?
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 9:24 p.m.
AMEN .... how about someone who actually shows up regularly to City Council Meetings until they end ? Someone who returns emails, answers or returns phone calls and correspondence ? Someone who is engaged in the governance process, and isn't an INVISIBLE WOMAN ?
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 11:15 a.m.
Anti- everything mayoral opponents? Anti- everything seems to be more the mayor's status quo: Anti public safety . . . Anti existing infrastructure. . . Anti pension and retiree healthcare funding. . . Anti fiduciary responsibility with $100,000,000 + more, siphoning into shell-game folly buckets as we debate. . . Some people love this, thinking mass transit is our main problem? OK, then. . .
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 11:15 a.m.
Thank you Kirk and Julie! Public service is hard and often thankless (always thankless on annarbor.com). Until now - THANK YOU.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 11 a.m.
LOL, here comes the anti-everything crowd, as expected. You hate everything, yes we have heard these ridiculous accusations before. Fact is that Hieftje has done more for this city than other Mayor. Either you are not paying attention or you are a person who nothing will ever please. Independent thought does not have to align with negativity or anti-everythingness. How about candidates coming up with some fresh ideas that tweak what you don't like about the Mayor's ideas. The anti-crowd just says No instead of thinking about and solving the problems. They emulate the congressional republicans. I guess if you like that style you would support people with that style. The majority of Ann Arbor thinks that....Yes, transit is good. Yes, planning is good. Yes, forward thinking is good.
Stephen Lange Ranzini
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 8:34 p.m.
@Tom Vanderbilt: Among his accomplishments during his term in office, debt including underfunded pension and retirement healthcare liabilities have risen from $250 million when he was elected to over $600 million, and cash on hand has dropped from $250 million to $200 million. The pension funds went from being substantially over funded to massive deficits. So, net, net, Mayor Hieftje has done more for this city than [any] other Mayor. He's put us into massive debt and taken a city that had no net debt and put it $400 million in the hole!
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 5:47 p.m.
"Fact is that Hieftje has done more for this city than other Mayor." "For" OR "to"? Clearly he has not risen to Kwame levels, but apparently the voters are willing to give him time...
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 12:21 p.m.
Now Tom, you know that A2 is a Hell-hole that nobody wants to live in. I can see it in the drop in housing prices and the glut of homes for sale. I can see it in the high unemployment rate and the lack of foot traffic downtown, not to mention the huge vacancy rate in the business district.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 11:58 a.m.
LOL at you for getting up so early to spearhead the puppet propaganda. The Planning Comission has acted little to improve the city, through their inaction they have done harm to historic neighborhoods. Everyone knows these two are right out of the pool of Heiftje appointees. Nice try but don't presume to know what the majority of Ann Arbor thinks.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 10:53 a.m.
Any new face is what the city needs. Oh - those running against incumbents are Democrats.....then forget it! Nothing will change other than more tax and spend, more art, more chasing personal agendas, another train station or two, etc., etc., etc. Go figure!
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 2:35 p.m.
Its not what I think or feel, rather its what the majority of registered voters in AA think, believe, feel and want for their city. Note I said a majority of registered voters in AA versus the small turn outs we seem to have allowing a small group to set the direction for the city. I believe voter rules and laws should be changed to insuring that most registered voters do exactly that - vote. If they do not wish to vote or wish to be selective on what they vote for, then don't register. Let others set the direction and approve or deny city issues. But, if you register to vote, I believe you owe it to society to vote.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 1:42 p.m.
If you are against wasteful spending of tax dollars on unneeded and impractical large ticket items like a new railroad station or light rail running down Plymouth Road into North Campus towards the Hospital and downtown then Ms. Lumm and Mr. Kunselman should be retained on City Council. Only those aligned and friendly with the mayor are appointed to committees and commissions as I expect is the case with both Mr. Westphal and Ms. Grand. Certainly Mr. Hieftje will rally support from those constituents that are indebted to the mayor. But both Mr. Derazinski and Mr. Rapundalo, close friends with the mayor, were defeated despite the mayor's help. Second and third ward voters should acknowledge good constituent representation and reward Jane Lumm and Stephen Kunselman by providing them with another two year term as City Council members.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 10:45 a.m.
Say hello to the mayor's newest mass debt (transit) proponents. About the divisiveness Grand sees on council: That's good government at work. When one heads a board seeded by the mayor's hand-selected like-minded group, alternative voices must seem disturbing and divisive. The divide seems to emanate from the priority clash regarding city service and accountability (new council voices) vs old guard patriarchy (Hieftjen chieftans marching to the their father's grand vision). I will vote for the former, thank you.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 10:37 a.m.
It is critical that anyone who cares about reason and wants to reduce the considerable wasteful spending of this city gets their friends, family, and coworkers out there to make sure these people do not get close to council. With the apathetic turnout of voters in this town, it is VERY easy for these small entrenched groups to drum up enough crony/political friend/business friend support to get voted into council. It's our responsibility to keep that from happening. Ms. Lumm, as depressing as the game is, you may want to make sure A2.com has access to some pictures of you smiling. I wish we could rely on common sense, message, and work ethic, but politics rarely runs that way.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 12:03 p.m.
And G.W. Bush had an MBA from Harvard. Sounds reasonable?
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 11:58 a.m.
An economist is not the right background for the position. Economists world wide have a problem with stating fact versus opinions not proving to be correct or accurate. Almost like being a trained weather person or meteorologist. Both have poor records predicting the near term based on a collection of factors. Some economists say spend, some economists say to cut debt. Note that these are at opposite ends of the spectrum. So, who is right? No thanks. No economist for me. We might be better off if the person running was a professional comedian. In this case, we could all laugh together as we spend money we do not have.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 11:19 a.m.
It's funny because you say "cares about reason." Mr. Westphal is an economist with a master's degree in city planning... to help run a city... sounds reasonable to me.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 10:58 a.m.
A Democrat replacing a Democrat will not help our city. We need political diversity, not commonality of thought, wishes, dreams and poor political ethics that our current group in city council represents. Too many 'yeah, let's waste tax payer money' people in city council now.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 10:34 a.m.
Two more Hieftje robots to replace people with some independence of thought.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 10:27 a.m.
Finally, some fresh faces who are positive and forward thinking. Kunselman and Lumm are always so negative and despondent over everything that many of us residents find great about this city. I like Westphal's attitude about transit and planning for future needs and really believe that it is more in line with how the majority of the city thinks. I think Grand sounds extremely sincere in wanting to step up and use her experience on council. It is refreshing to finally hear some positive remarks come from potential council candidates. Typically all we ever hear is doom and gloom from Kunselman, Lumm and the anti-everything party. I love An Arbor, I love that we are doing well. I, for one, want Ann Arbor to move forward and not be sent back to the 1950's by Lumm, Kunselman and the other Anti-s. My hope is that Westphal and Grand can help point in that forward direction.
Sam S Smith
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 4:59 p.m.
We need less clueless Hiefjte followers and more like Lumm
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 2:25 p.m.
I'm with you, Tom V., but based on the number of thumbs down you got, I guess we're in the minority.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : noon
I would define "positive and forward thinking" as addressing public safety concerns and infrastructure improvement solutions, not nonessential train stations. Let's keep the "negative and despondent" adults in the room to keep those dreamers in check.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 10:39 a.m.
So they're pointing in that diection by just being cheerful and throwing fistfuls of money at poorly planned and unnecessary projects? Yayyyy, we're spending money, yaaayyyy!
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 10:25 a.m.
"The motivation is I'm term-limited on the Park Advisory Commission in October, I did a lot of thinking about what I want to do next in terms of career and community involvement, and I feel like I've just been raised to do this from birth."" Raised to do this from birth? Good lord.
Sam S Smith
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 10:33 p.m.
Park Advisory Commission? The same one who is doing nothing about the proposed mega million wasteful new choo choo station that would be on park land? Choo Choo Grand!
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 1:31 p.m.
I think you picked out the pertinent sound bite, Ryan.
Ryan J. Stanton
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 1:17 p.m.
Perhaps I should have added a little more context. She was just saying how she was raised with a strong ethic of public and community service and her decision to run was influenced by those values instilled in her at an early age.
Fri, Mar 22, 2013 : 10:20 a.m.
"Westphal and Grand are both well known around city hall, and they speak positively of the city's leadership, including Mayor John Hieftje." Uh huh. A pair of hand picked Hieftje rubber stamps in waiting, ready to cut basis public services, spend millions on art, pay for a new train station while others City's get their funded through non-local funds, build a conference center and let business as usual continue with the DDA. No thanks, the City has been damaged too much by the likes of our Mayor and his shrinking number of puppets on Council. No thank you, we don't need two more.