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Posted on Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 5:58 a.m.

4th Ward Ann Arbor City Council candidates differ on AATA's countywide expansion plans

By Ryan J. Stanton

Margie Teall says she's running for reelection to her 4th Ward seat on the Ann Arbor City Council to make sure the city stays on the path it's been on for the last decade.

"Ann Arbor is doing extremely well in just about every measure for a city of its size," she said at a Tuesday night debate hosted by the League of Women Voters in Ann Arbor.

"We have just experienced our best budget year since I've been in office," she said. "We are now hiring back in our safety services area to fill police and fire positions."


Jack Eaton, a longtime neighborhood activist who ran against incumbent Margie Teall two years ago, is back taking another swing this year.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Teall is up against Democratic challenger Jack Eaton in the Aug. 7 primary. The winner advances to the November general election unopposed for now.

Eaton, a longtime neighborhood activist who ran against Teall two years ago, said he'd work on further restoring public safety staffing and keeping city fire stations open.

"Ward 4 residents tell me city hall needs to focus on sensible priorities: Safety, public services and infrastructure," he said. "I'm running because I believe Ward 4 residents deserve responsive leadership. I will answer your emails. I will return your phone calls, promptly."

The two candidates differed on the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority's plans to expand public transit services in Washtenaw County, a major decision facing the city.

Eaton argued the plan to layer a countywide transit millage on top of the transit millage Ann Arbor already pays will leave the city footing a disproportionate share of the bill.

"I believe that's not the best way to expand service because that will only fund commuter service to the out-county areas and that will encourage urban sprawl and not really provide actual regional transit," Eaton said.

Eaton said both Lansing and Grand Rapids have regional transit systems with a uniform millage across their entire service areas, offering "real transit," not just commuter service.

Teall said it's true that Ann Arbor residents would pay a larger share of the costs, but she noted the countywide plan must be approved by voters first. She said Ann Arbor would pay more, but also benefit more from a countywide expansion of the AATA.


Teall said she's supportive of the vision for a greenway and she's continuing to push for starting with anchor parks at 415 W. Washington and 721 N. Main.

Ryan J. Stanton |

"It is a city-centered service," she said.

Teall, who has been on council since 2002, rattled off a list of her recent accomplishments. She said she led efforts to secure state and federal funds to rebuild the Stadium bridges, as well as a $1 million state grant to demolish the dilapidated Georgetown Mall.

She said she also has been working with 4th Ward residents on stormwater flooding issues in certain neighborhoods.

"I have worked and will continue to work to address serious stormwater and overland flooding problems, meeting with neighbors and staff to better understand this very complicated issue and to see what can be done to lessen the impact of these ever-increasing severe storm events without impacting the downstream neighborhoods," she said.

Eaton suggested the city hasn't acted quickly enough.

"We must develop a plan to address neighborhood flooding," he said. "That plan must be implemented in a prompt manner to protect homes and property."

Eaton expressed support for an Allen's Creek Greenway to address the stormwater problem, while also addressing other environmental issues and adding green space to the city.

Teall said she's supportive of the vision for a greenway and she's continuing to push for starting with anchor parks at 415 W. Washington and 721 N. Main.

Eaton said the city should offer additional protections to lands designated as parks, including Fuller Park where the city is talking about building a new Amtrak station.

"I believe the current discussion about repurposing Fuller Park is a dangerous precedent that threatens all of our parks," he said. "If the City Council is capable of changing the use of that park land, then no park in the whole city is safe from repurposing."


Eaton said the city should offer additional protections to lands designated as parks, including Fuller Park where the city is talking about building a new Amtrak station.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Teall argued the particular piece of property on which the city is looking to build a train station has been a surface parking lot since 1993. She said 24,000 people a day travel to the location because of the University of Michigan Hospital and it makes sense to consider transit there.

Eaton said he supports the vision for a central park on the so-called Library Lot atop the city's new underground parking garage downtown.

Teall said she's concerned it might over-tax the parks maintenance budget if the city created a large-scale downtown central park.

"The library has some deep concerns about doing that as well, and they are a major anchor downtown," she said. "Our downtown parks will require more policing."

Teall said a downtown park needs activity around it. She said she would prefer to see a potentially large-scale development that surrounds a nice plaza instead.

The two candidates differed on whether the city should switch to nonpartisan elections. Teall said it makes a lot of sense since one-party control means council races are decided in August primaries when far fewer people vote than in November elections.

Eaton expressed skepticism.

"I'm a partisan Democrat. I don't mind that we're a one-party town," he said. "But I wouldn't be opposed to putting it on the ballot."

Eaton said the city has an obligation to protect and preserve what is great about Ann Arbor. He said he'd strive to protect neighborhoods from "extreme development" and he'd fight for an ordinance to addresses the problem of long-term vacant buildings.

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.


Alan Goldsmith

Thu, Jul 12, 2012 : 12:21 p.m.

Ms. Teall left out her part in helping America land on the moon, ending the Vietnam War, and curing polio I think. She deserves as much credit for those feats as she does for anything listed above she's claiming.


Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 8:24 p.m.

The City Council Members of the 4th Ward are called the Invisible Women for a reason since they don't respond to emails, they don't answer or respond to voice mails, they fail to attend or leave City Council Meetings early and they often fail to attend debates or Town Halls. The Georgetown Mall still stands, the flooding still exists, it took Congressman Dingell's efforts with the US Department of Transportation (and the President's Team not being able to travel over the bridge for his commencement speech) to get the Stadium Bridge funding approved, she participated in the horrific funding for Art program, the car idling fine program, the crosswalk debacle, the underground garage money pit, and many other fine examples of city council members gone awry. Vote Margie Teall out of office!!!


Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 4:37 p.m.

New blood must be elected to the city council so that the Mayor and city attorney lose their strangle hold on the city affairs.. remember the texting scandal, the city attorney should have been removed at that point. But why do something stupid as that..and mr mayor its good to see that youre making an effort to be etthical by not accepting your pay from U of M last year...its not a good sign to vote on issues regarding the university while being paid by them , it brings up conflict of issues ideas..


Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 3:56 p.m.

It's nice to see that Margie is able to rattle off a large list of accomplishments so readily. She neglected to mention her many absences from City Council meetings, and her well-known reputation in our neighborhood for lack of communication with her 4th ward constituents. I personally left several messages on her home phone last summer and emailed her several times - no response from her electronically or by phone. We need a representative on council that is involved, and communicates. There are a lot of flooding issues that have gotten worse in recent years, in part due to the city's footing drain disconnect program. She's been helping home-owners with that in the Lansdowne neighborhood? Margie also forgot to mention in her list that she wants the Percent for Art program boosted to two percent. She's also taking credit for securing the $1 Million MI DEQ grant for the demolition of the Georgetown Mall, just before the August primary. From my understanding, the DEQ offered to award the grant to the county, with the condition that the developer show project financing within 120 days of grant award. So, it's not quite a done deal yet, right...financing within 120 days? She dropped the ball on this project for years, and also failed to reply to emails about this project, but she takes the credit. Mr. Eaton, I hope this is the year that you defeat Ms. Teall.


Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 1:15 p.m.

It is always amusing to hear of our city officials speaking of mass transit expansion in the context of Ann Arbor as being the "center of the hub (universe)." With new state law, City of Detroit is the center, with major players like Wayne, Oakland and Macomb Counties having about 90% of the say in mass transit dollar expenditures. Unfortunately for Ann Arbor, when it comes to mass transit, we have little mass. We are just sitting at the back of the bus. . .


Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 12:52 p.m.

Margie Teall is a perfect example of why we need new people and idea on city council. The tax paying voters of Ann Arbor need to take our city back from the city council and mayor.


Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 12:41 p.m.

Mr. Eaton says he will be responsive to the people and I have found that to be true. I don't live in his ward but I asked him a question about one of his comments and got a prompt, courteous and intelligent response. I cannot say that the same has EVER happened with any of our standing council "representatives". Remember people, these city council members are there to represent YOU, not to see their plans through. Look at the DDA flyer in the fourth ward debate article, that is what staying on the same path will get us. Continued spending despite overwhelming public objections, any project dreamed up as long as we pay for it. Foot the bill for countywide transit? Why not? Stay the course.... THINK Ann Arbor voters, and turn up to vote in August. A status quo result in this election could saddle everyone of us homeowners with thousands of dollars in additional taxes for 10, 15, 20 or more years.

John S. Armbruster

Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 12:41 p.m.

A county wide expansion of the AATA is not something desired by many outside of Ann Arbor and in Ann Arbor it is desired mainly by the bureaucrats and politicians. It is designed to benefit Ann Arbor and virtually no other political entity.

John S. Armbruster

Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 2:40 p.m.

The point is that it is to bring people into Ann Arbor. It is not going to help out county. It is going to suck money from out county for minimanl service to be spent on the AATA bureaucracy and dreams of rail lines. Do you really believe Ann Arbor's bureaucrats and politicians give a rip about Dexter, Manchester, Saline, Milan, etc.?


Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 1:21 p.m.

It also benefits the business owners by giving them a way to transport their employees to town. So it's also a subsidy of business.


Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 1:19 p.m.

Why do you believe that it will benefit Ann Arbor? The AATA is at significant risk of having its revenue diverted from city transportation to county transportation.


Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 12:35 p.m.

Marge Teall should share her rose-colored glasses with the rest of the community so that everyone can see how well Ann Arbor is doing financially. Are we not still going through the painful process of hiring back firemen and policemen after budget-related reductions? Is her revered 1%-for-art program embarrassed by the mechanical and electrical failures of the $770,000 Herbert Dreiseitl "water sculpture" which blights the front of the Municipal Building? Isn't the city saddled with paying off the $50 million dollar bond issue that built the overly expensive subterranean library parking structure that was designed to hold up a 12-story hotel that was ultimately rejected because it wasn't a feasible development? As for county-wide expansion of transportation who really wants it? What specific benefits will it bring Ann Arbor citizens? Won't the AATA lose control of its money to a new 4-Party County Authority board on which Ann Arbor will have only a minority representation? Isn't it true that the real purpose of the 4-Party County Authority is to generate funds that will help developers to build along Washtenaw Avenue (the so-called "Re-Imaging Washtenaw")? And exactly what part did Ms. Teall play in getting that $1 million grant to assist development of the Georgetown Mall and to get federal money for the replacement of the Stadium Bridge?


Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 1:52 p.m.

"As for county-wide expansion of transportation who really wants it?" Veracity - you are going to want the transit system expanded. As they continue to choke off the roads into the city you'll be begging for a mass transit system to get around. Hours in traffic jams created by the planners will convince you of that. Stadium is already narrowed, Huron/Jackson will be next...........


Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 11:46 a.m.

"Teall, who has been on council since 2002, rattled off a list of her recent accomplishments. She said she led efforts to secure state and federal funds to rebuild the Stadium bridges, as well as a $1 million state grant to demolish the dilapidated Georgetown Mall." The bridges were below standard for a decade, and the Georgetown Mall still stands today. In the last decade, fire stations have been closed, police laid off, roads disintegrated, and budgets have been strained. Ms. Teall focused on proposals such as spending money on art -- and, remember the Greenbelt? How are those extra tax dollars we'll all pay this month being put to good use? Mr. Eaton is correct: police, fire, roads, utilities, basic services, and sensible zoning. That's the core of the job, not the fluff, however much more fun the fluff is to talk about.

Alan Goldsmith

Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 10:28 a.m.

"Margie Teall says she's running for reelection to her 4th Ward seat on the Ann Arbor City Council to make sure the city stays on the path it's been on for the last decade." Cue the background music from the Jaws soundtrack. Modestly, Ms. Teall doesn't take credit for actually suggesting we move to a TWO Per Cent For Art Tax on city building projects. Don't be shy Ms. Teall--you deserve ALL the credit for the brilliant idea.