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Posted on Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 5:57 a.m.

Albert Howard so far running a quiet campaign to unseat Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje

By Ryan J. Stanton


Albert Howard and his eight children going door to door in Ann Arbor earlier this year when he was collecting signatures.

Ryan J. Stanton |

After seeing his allies lose majority control of the Ann Arbor City Council in the August primary, Mayor John Hieftje faces his own re-election test in November.

To stay in office, he must defend his seat in the Nov. 6 general election against Independent challenger Albert Howard, a long-shot candidate by most accounts.

Howard so far hasn't articulated his platform, but he has taken a few shots at Hieftje on his Facebook and Twitter accounts. He declined interview requests from and at least one other media outlet, saying he's only willing to respond to questions via email during the campaign.

"I will articulate my campaign platform/issues at the first public debate with Mr. John Hieftje," Howard wrote in an email to on Tuesday. "Official statements will be made via, and Email press interviews only after first debate."


John Hieftje

Hieftje said he'll be curious to find out why his opponent is running and his positions on issues.

"Every candidate has their own strategy," he said in response to his opponent declining to do candid interviews. "I'll continue to be available to anyone who wants to talk to me."

Hieftje, a Democrat, said if Ann Arbor voters give him another two-year term, he'll continue on the path he's been on since becoming mayor in 2000.

"I'll continue to focus on good government, fiscal responsibility, solid service delivery, environmental issues and looking into the future and trying to position the city well for the next 10 to 20 years," he said. "And I want to continue to work to get the city through the bad times without a tax increase, understanding there was a small increase for sidewalks and there is an art millage on the ballot now."

Howard recently launched a campaign website at, but the "issues" section is light on substance at the moment. It features only an animated graphic image of a man wearing a hard hat and shoveling dirt, with the caption "under construction" underneath.

In a welcome message on his homepage, Howard explains that an "Angel of the Lord" instructed him to run for president of the United States against Hillary Clinton in 2008. The rest of the website includes mostly family photos of Howard and his wife and their eight children.

Howard, a conservative Republican pastor, runs a website where he's known for making religious prophecies. He's a lifelong Ann Arbor resident and 1984 graduate of Huron High School.

Hieftje, a former real estate professional, has proven himself popular among Ann Arbor voters in past elections. He was last re-elected in November 2010, pulling 82 percent of the vote compared with Independent challenger Steve Bean's 17.6 percent.

He also fended off Democratic challenger Patricia Lesko in the primary two years ago with 83.9 percent of the vote compared with Lesko's 15.6 percent.

But he has seen his political allies, who once held a strong majority on council, drop off over the past few years. In 2009, Stephen Kunselman ousted Leigh Greden, one of his allies.

Last year, Jane Lumm ousted Stephen Rapundalo, another of his allies. And in this year's primary, Sally Hart Petersen ousted Tony Derezinski, another of his allies.

Sumi Kailasapathy, a stanch critic of the mayor's agenda, also defeated Eric Sturgis, who had backing from the mayor's supporters, in the August primary this year.

Kailasapathy replaces Sandi Smith, one of two Hieftje allies who are stepping down voluntarily in November. The other one stepping down is Carsten Hohnke.

Hohnke most likely will be replaced on council by Chuck Warpehoski, who ran with the mayor's endorsement against Vivienne Armentrout and won in the August primary. Warpehoski now faces long-shot Republican candidate Stuart Berry in November.

In a recent post on Twitter, Howard quoted himself as saying: "God's glory destroys circumstances before it brings victory." He also tweeted this about his campaign: "God to the @AlbertHowardUSA 2012 mayoral campaign: You are on a no odds schedule."

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.



Wed, Sep 5, 2012 : 8:22 p.m.

"Hieftje, a Democrat, said if Ann Arbor voters give him another two-year term, he'll continue on the path he's been on since becoming mayor in 2000." Will this mean a continued path to unnecessary spending and cutbacks to essential services?


Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 8:27 a.m.

al howard,have ever ever thought of running for a smaller position first?Not sure of his political but the guy can sing! He should try a new gospel C D you may score on that mr.howard

Cendra Lynn

Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 5:03 a.m.

You need a choice for "neither of the above"


Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 3:29 a.m.

If the mayor losses to a opponent that wont speak to the media...........only in Ann Arbor lol


Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 2:57 a.m.

The poll results here vs the actual results come November (assuming I'm right about another landslide for the mayor) say one of two things about the the skewed vision of the city one often sees in these comments: either there are a lot of haters who don't live here or there are a lot that do that can't be troubled to vote.

The Secret Team

Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 2:41 a.m.

Albert Howard was in fact on the ballot in the New Hampshire Republican primary in 2008. He collected 44 votes statewide. He beat out (by three votes) "Vermin Supreme" an anarchist who predicted a "zombie apocalypse" and was touting a proposed federal law requiring all Americans to brush their teeth. Mr. Howard joined forces with the Ron Paul campaign in successfully seeking a recount from the New Hampshire Secretary of State, an effort which was acknowledged by major news outlets.


Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 12:30 a.m.

For a town routinely labeled as one of the "smartest" and "most progressive", Ann Arbor has a serious lack of competent politicians and political candidates.


Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 12:18 a.m.

Albert Howard is not fit to be Ann Arbor's Mayor. One look at his website will tell you that. This isn't a Republican or Democrat issue, this is an issue of a person's ability to fulfill the duties of office. Mr. Howard's ability is in serious question.

The Secret Team

Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 11:33 p.m.

"After seeing his allies lose control of Ann Arbor City Council in the August primary, John Hieftje faces his own re-election test in November." We targeted both Second Ward Councilman Anthony Derezinski and First Ward City Council candidate Eric Sturgis for defeat. We won. We previously targeted Second Ward Councilman Steve Rapundalo for defeat in 2011. We won. No candidate targeted by us has ever achieved 45% of the popular vote in any election. We are a network of pro-business civic activists in Washetenaw County, including Ann Arbor, seeking to ensure that an agenda of commerce-friendly public policy is implemented ay the county and municipal levels. Even at the cost of John Hieftje's majority on City Council - accountability of elected officials is necessary and must be enforced. We are the Secret Team.

Rod Johnson

Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 8:10 p.m.

That's... dumb.


Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 3:09 a.m.

We will make the sun rise tomorrow. We just can't tell you who we are. Poppycock.


Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 8:55 p.m.

@ Ryan Stanton: Could look into whether Mr. Howard's church receives funds and is a tax exempt organization? On the church's homepage ( is a link to his campaign page - and the campaign page is on the church website. Since the Ann Arbor Different Church appears to have a grand total of zero members, I'm guessing this is probably a non-issue. But if it does have any funds and is tax exempt, the open advocacy of his mayoral campaign would be illegal, right?

Jack Campbell

Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 8:54 p.m.

The mayor needs to get his priorities straight if he wants my vote. More police/firefighters less bad art.


Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 6:54 p.m.

Are some of these kids adopted?


Wed, Sep 5, 2012 : 12:36 p.m.



Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 6:47 p.m.

He must have the "Quiverfull" endorsement wrapped up.


Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 6:45 p.m.

A religious fanatic who talks to God? No thanks, that didn't work out so well with Dubya.


Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 12:16 a.m.

The lawyer/academic Obama isn't doing so well either. I'll never understand those who, in the midst of their own failure, disparage the past failures of others.


Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 4:53 p.m.

I think A2 needs new leadership but once you take a look at the website of Pastor Howard, well... A Republican? Then again - he does seem to think God is talking directly through him so I guess that does make him a George W. Bush Republican. We know how that one ended...


Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 4:22 p.m.

At least Mr. Howard is honest, that is far less I can say for the current Mayor, Ann Arbor needs change Mickey Mouse would do a better job than Mr. Hieftje!

Seasoned Cit

Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 4:07 p.m.

Hey, Sounds like the Hope and Change of 4 years ago. We already know more about Howard than we did of BHO.


Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 6:49 p.m.

Try Google.


Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 4:05 p.m.

I'm in total agreement with "trespass"' its not just the members of city council and the mayor who are employed by the u of m that lack ethics'its also a part of our judicial system thats being influnced by the university. JUDGE CONNORS is also employed by the university and rules on issues regarding the university.i'm surprised that the judicial tenure committee is not aware of this situation. Talk about a foundation for corruption.


Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 3:20 p.m.

I find it troubling that most of the comments here assail Howard over his religious views and take the stand that his religion disqualifies him as a candidate. This is plain bigotry. I am sure these commenters would be horrified by such an attitude if he was a Muslim instead of a Christian. Howard's political qualifications are not impressive, but they should be discussed on legitimate grounds.

Rod Johnson

Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 8:38 p.m.

No, it's not bigotry. Christianity per se doesn't "disqualify" anyone, but the particulars of Howard's views will make him unsupportable to most people. But you're making stuff up anyway. No one has brought up the idea of qualification here before you. And with maybe one exception, the negative comments have been about the ridiculous claims he makes or his personal character. Your claim that you find nonexistent comments "troubling" is a sham. Are you just trying to pick a fight over religion?


Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 7:32 p.m.

To refer to Howard as a Christian is a stretch. He expresses views that most Christians would not even recognize. As for his political views, there's nothing on his campaign website about them and he refused an interview with He's not a serious candidate - not even close - and that's what people are poking fun at.


Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 6:52 p.m.

If a person's religious convictions color his worldview and political beliefs, those beliefs are a legitimate subject of discussion.

Dog Guy

Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 5:58 p.m.

We Ann Arborites are supremely proud of our big trees. They define us.

Rod Johnson

Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 2:26 p.m.

Worst candidate ever. I'm terrified that some day enough ignoramuses will vote in a low-turnout election and we'll actually have to deal with this guy in public office.


Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 9:39 p.m.

I think that's how we elected our current Senators.


Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 10:12 p.m.

Well, YOU said it! Thanks!

Rod Johnson

Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 8:32 p.m.

Steve--really? Like him or not (and I don't, especially), Hieftje has been an effective campaigner and a competent mayor. I don't think we can blame the ignoramuses on this one (unless you're tendentious enough to believe that anyone who voted for Hieftje is by definition an ignoramus).


Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 7:32 p.m.

Only in Ann Arbor!

Stephen Landes

Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 6:40 p.m.

That seems to be how the current mayor was elected.


Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 2:25 p.m.

If his websites are any indication of how he thinks of himself, he's a hot mess of disorganization, delusion, and bad design.


Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 7:30 p.m.

The delusion is so thick that I barely noticed the bad design!


Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 2:17 p.m.

Amost like holding up a bag and asking people to guess what is inside. Until he states his position on various issues, why would anyone even think about supporting him other than 'anyone but Hieftje'.

David Cahill

Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 1:43 p.m.

Howard will be lucky to get 2% of the vote.


Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 7:47 p.m.

Let the people be media is a key factor in govermental elections!


Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 7:29 p.m.

I agree with Brad that Howard will get 10-15% of the actual vote, most of that being anti-Hieftje protest vote. That Howard has a whopping 45% of the poll vote backs up my notion that he's already mayor, just Mayor of the comments section. Thankfully, that's not a real office.

Jake C

Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 4:36 p.m.

But he's pulling 45% of the vote on! If there's a 10% margin of error that means Mr. Howard could quite likely be our next major of Ann Arbor.


Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 4:24 p.m.

Polls set up by show a pretty close race, its far more than 2%


Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 4:23 p.m.

I'll take the "over" on 2%. I think he could go 15% on the "anybody but Hieftje" effect alone (note: a guess, not a prophecy).


Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 1:38 p.m.

I have twice had two hour interactions with Mr. Howard and really wonder about this guys mental state. He claimed that God was talking directly to him while I was standing there. He advised me to check out his website which I did. The next day he returned and I told him now I understood him and offered that he may need help since God tells him what to do on a daily basis. He claims to be a prophet and that God talks to him all the time. I remarked that if you talk to God , that`s prayer. If God talks to you, that`s schizophrenia. He laughed and said "that`s a good one." His "church" appears to be a PO box and/or an apartment at Colonial Square Co-ops. Be very wary voters that said in the poll you`d vote for him


Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 1:27 p.m.

Albert Howard should not be on the November ballot. Regardless of party affiliation, the City Charter requires a person running for mayor or council to file petitions 7 weeks before the August primary. That means Howard had to files his petitions in June. Instead, he filed in the middle of July.


Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 1:17 p.m.

My "Albert Howard is Mayor of the comments section" post got deleted? How could that in any way, shape, or form have violated the comment rules? Howard is a public figure. He's running for mayor. People write unbelievably harsh things about Hieftje and other political figures all the time. My post was a relatively mild dig at Howard and the general tone and content of the comments on this site. Since I'm guessing this message will also get deleted, I'd welcome an email from the comments monitor explaining why my original post was deleted.


Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 7:26 p.m.

Jake the poll results you cited in a post below are what I was poking fun at. Howard currently has 45% of the vote. He'll get nowhere near that in the general election. Maybe 15%, and most of that will just be a protest vote. I can't imagine there are more than a handful of people in the city who think he's capable of being mayor.

Jake C

Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 4:27 p.m.

A basic rule is that if you're not commenting on the substance of the article, but instead making some kind of meta-criticism of the commenting system in general, your comment will probably be deleted. If you want to complain about the commenting system, there's already a dedicated spot for that, which you should be aware of.


Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 1:12 p.m.

Must be a new campaign strategy, Ann Arbor must be very satisfied with current mayor.


Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 12:50 p.m.

If there was ever a poll (and for that matter, election) that needed a "none of the above" pick, this is it.


Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 12:40 p.m.

From Howards website: "Prophet Albert Howard predicted accurate location of US government earthquake on August 2, 2011 " Really? "US government earthquake"? Thats what it was? Did the US government cause it or was it just directed at the US govt and the lawn chairs happened to get in the way?


Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 3 p.m.

"US government earthquake"? Thats what it was? Sounds as plausible as blaming it on fracking. But I don't recall your objecting to that.


Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 12:39 p.m.

Minority conservative. Not a chance in the open minds of AA people. I see some of the responders are starting to spread negative narritives already. No facts but, if you are a liberal who needs facts.


Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 1:52 p.m.

I am not saying he is a great canidate, however look at Sandy's comment fishing for dirt.


Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 12:43 p.m.

Ask Rep Ryan who needs facts. Ask Clint who needs a real debate opponent, so much easier to make one up out of thin air and argue against that. Here is a "fact" from Mr Howards website- "1600 Pennsylvania Avenue will no longer be the location of the White House. Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, MI will become the new Washington D.C. " Maybe you better check this guys birth certificate,


Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 12:42 p.m.

What "negative narratives" that are wrong have liberals been spreading? Howard doesn't stand a chance because he's the fringiest of fringe candidates.


Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 12:33 p.m.

Let me get this straight...the New Guy has no positions, thinks the Creator of the Universe wanted him to run for President (but didn't seem to give him much in the way of publicity or support, no burning bushes or Jesus on a grilled cheese) and makes religious prophecies. Perfect for The Whiners.


Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 12:28 p.m.

I had the unfortunate experience of dealing with Mr. Howard. He was most rude, unprofessional and made me feel very uncomfortable. I know he does not have even a sliver of a chance of winning. However, I have a feeling we haven't heard the last of Mr. Howard in the city of Ann Arbor. Someone I know graduated with him from high school and remembers him as someone who is a bit out there, and not in a good way. He mentioned that Mr Howard ran for city council and did/said something that was really embarrassing. My friend couldn't recall what it was. Does anyone recall such an incident?

rusty shackelford

Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 12:18 p.m.

True, Hiefjie's "party" on council have made some boneheaded and inexcusable decisions. However, the city is very well run, and services have been maintained despite the economic downturn the loss of the largest property tax payer in town. For that Hieftjie deserves enormous credit. Of course, UM helps in that regard. Part of any A2 mayor's job is going to be to work well with UM; Hiefjie gets good marks for that, too, as far as I'm concerned.

Rod Johnson

Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 8:28 p.m.

Rusty, how dare you be evenhanded!? We have a vitriol-only policy here.


Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 11:02 a.m.

Why doesn't Ann Arbor have an ethics policy for the Mayor and other Council members? The University of Michigan likes to buy influence with local centers of power and in the case of Mr. Hieftje, he was hired as a part time lecturer after he was elected mayor. Then he refused to recuse himself from votes that affected the University, such as the Fuller Road Station plans. Several other Council members are full time UM employees. The voters have a right to know that their representatives are representing the voters and not representing the interests of the University when conducting City business.


Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 3:01 a.m.

@ thesecretteam: I'll have two pounds of total innuendo please without a shred or evidence of anything improper, thanks.

The Secret Team

Tue, Sep 4, 2012 : 12:15 a.m.

Regarding the Fuller Road station proposed project, do not forget that Leigh Greden was a primary supporter on that project on City Council and at the same time he worked with the Miller Canfield law firm. According to Miller Canfield's website, the University of Michigan was one of their most prized clients. Remember the Noah Hall Open Meetings Act/FOIA lawsuit brought against the City of Ann Arbor by the Hooper Hathaway law firm that was later settled? Hooper Hathaway later gave partnerships to City Council member Christopher Taylor and Ann Arbor Housing Commissioner Marta Manildi. Remember the Wayne Wade sex discrimination lawsuit filed against Judge Julie Creal and several managerial personnel of the Ann Arbor District Court that settled prior to trial for $82,500.00? Christopher Taylor's employer at that time, the Butzel Long firm, got retained to defend that case.

Rod Johnson

Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 8:27 p.m.

Goober, I don't know that that's true. The majority of voters who vote in Democratic primary elections have shown that they support the mayor, but that's a tiny minority of voters in Ann Arbor. And let's face it, his opposition, both in the primaries and in the general, has not been very impressive.


Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 4:28 p.m.

I remember, people said Tony D was unbeatable ..........we seen the results of that race!


Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 11:33 a.m.

The majority of AA voters have shown that they love and fully support this mayor and most of city council. Unless there is a change in mindset of the AA majority, the mayor will not be replaced. As you know, AA is a one party town.


Mon, Sep 3, 2012 : 10:52 a.m.

Howard has my vote. The clown show needs to end. Even a different clown would be fine by me.