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Posted on Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 5:59 a.m.

Challengers raise big money in Ann Arbor City Council primary races

By Ryan J. Stanton


Julie Grand, left, is hoping to unseat incumbent Stephen Kunselman, right, in the 3rd Ward race for the Ann Arbor City Council. The two, shown here at a candidate forum in June, will face off in the Democratic primary on Aug. 6.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Two challengers hoping to oust two incumbent Ann Arbor City Council members on Aug. 6 have raised large sums of money for their campaigns this year.

New finance reports show Julie Grand has raised more than $11,600 in her bid to oust Stephen Kunselman from his 3rd Ward seat.

Grand took in $10,825 in cash contributions plus another $826 worth of in-kind donations. She spent nearly $6,700 for the period from April 29 through July 21 and had $4,131 cash on hand.

Kunselman raised $5,855 in cash contributions plus $160 worth of in-kind donations this cycle. He spent $2,526, leaving him with $3,454 cash on hand.

Meanwhile, Jack Eaton has raised more than $9,200 in his bid to oust Marcia Higgins from her 4th Ward seat.

Eaton took in $7,959 in cash contributions plus another $1,263 worth of in-kind donations.

His report shows $2,445 worth of itemized expenses, $1,788 in debt owed and $5,508 cash on hand.

Higgins filed a report showing she raised $4,592 in cash contributions and spent $2,751. Counting previous money raised, she had $2,623 cash on hand.

The county clerk's office sent Eaton a notice on Thursday saying his campaign finance statement had six different errors or omissions.

That included two anonymous contributions totaling $25. The clerk's office informed Eaton that anonymous contributions are prohibited and the money must be donated to a charity.

Eaton also failed to report the occupation, employer name and business address of Kathy Griswold, who donated more than $100 to his campaign.


Marcia Higgins, left, is defending her 4th Ward seat against Jack Eaton, right.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Eaton also was cited for accepting $508.61 in cash and in-kind contributions from Council Member Mike Anglin, D-5th Ward, when $500 is the maximum allowed.

Other contributors to Eaton's campaign include Council Members Jane Lumm and Sumi Kailasapathy; local hotelier and real estate developer Dennis Dahlmann; and Irv Mermelstein, an attorney who is at odds with the city on flooding issues and the city's footing drain disconnection program.

Eaton also received contributions from David Cahill, who is the husband of City Council Member Sabra Briere; and Vivienne Armentrout, a former county commissioner who has run for City Council in the 5th Ward; as well as Alan Goldsmith, a frequent critic of city hall and the mayor.

Grand received contributions from Leah Gunn, who was chairwoman of the Downtown Development Authority until recently; and John Splitt, another DDA board member. She also received donations from Higgins and Margie Teall, who represent the 4th Ward on the City Council.

She also received money from local developer Ed Shaffran of Ann Arbor-based Shaffran Companies and Jeff Hauptman, president of The Oxford Companies.

Higgins received contributions from some of the same people who gave to Grand's campaign, including Gunn, Hauptman and Teall.

She also received donations from Mayor John Hieftje; DDA board members Roger Hewitt and Joan Lowenstein; Pizza House owners Dennis Tice and Matthew Tice; and Ray Detter, who is chairman of the Downtown Area Citizens Advisory Council.

Kunselman received donations from many people who donated to other campaigns, including Anglin, Dahlmann, Detter, Goldsmith, Armentrout, Griswold, Eaton and Lumm.

Kunselman also received a letter from the county clerk's office on Friday saying it appears he made an error by accepting a $100 contribution from Anglin's campaign committee.

"Candidate committee to candidate committee contributions are prohibited except for the purchase of a fundraiser ticket not to exceed $100 from the candidate committee in a calendar year," the clerk's office stated, noting no indication is made if the contribution was for a fundraiser ticket.

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.


Ryan J. Stanton

Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 8:35 p.m.

I just added some details from Kunselman's campaign finance statement to the story. It was filed today. You can read all the reports yourself here:

David Cahill

Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 8:43 p.m.

Thanks, Ryan!


Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 8:09 p.m.

I just looked up Julie Grand's contribution list. It shows over 17 pages of donor's from a wide range of backgrounds and $ amounts contributed. Not so much from city officials as from teacher's, students and retired neighbors. I think Ms Grand has made a significant contribution to the services that we enjoy in Ann Arbor. I know she was a very vocal proponent on the Senior Center task force. I have heard from others that worked with her as Chairwoman of the Parks Advisory Committee. She seems to be a thoughtful and strong leader.


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 4:55 p.m.

Lots of DDA contributors. Could she be a council person like Sandy Smith, representing the DDA and not her constituents?

Vivienne Armentrout

Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 9 p.m.

For the curious, the report is here: I think this description from AAnewsgirl is a bit misleading. Grand has $2000 from apparent relatives, $1000 from the Hauptmann family (Oxford Companies, a large property management firm), amounts of $50 to $300 that were collected at a fundraiser from Burns Park neighbors but also from known political actors like Janis Bobrin and Janine Easter (not to mention Leah Gunn), Margie Teall and Marcia Higgins via their Council campaign accounts, Bill Martin (the property guy), $250 from Library Board member Margaret Leary, Ed Shaffran (downtown developer, one of the good ones), $250 from Ned Staebler's PAC Inspire Michigan, and contributions from two building trades PACs. (Development = buildings, right?) Jon Carlson (downtown restaurant developer). Paul Ganz (DTE). And of course John Splitt of the DDA. A pretty hefty backing from the movers and shakers. Looks as though that was a successful fundraiser. Rene Greff apparently donated some of the fixings at Arbor Brewing Company. I attended Kunselman's fundraiser/kickoff at Dominick's. Apparently he had to pay for the pizza. Here is his statement:

David Cahill

Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 6:24 p.m.

Kunselman's campaign finance report is now posted on the County Elections Division's website. He raised $5855 and has $3454 on hand.


Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 5:15 p.m.

How can we expect Kunselman to MAKE the rules if he can't even follow them? Campaign Finance deadlines are very explicit and reports are easy to submit.


Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 5:49 p.m.

Looks like it's only a crime if it's in an area where it has been prohibited by council resolution. Nice try.


Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 5:19 p.m.

Reminds of the time he skateboarded through the 4th of July parade without signing up... a slap into the face of parade organizers, the jaycees Skateboarding IS a crime, btw. "[Ann Arbor] City Council may by resolution designate locations and times in which skateboards may not be operated on sidewalks or other public property. (See Resolution R-412-7-88). The restrictions contained in any such resolution shall be posted in signs within the area designated by the resolution. No person shall operate a skateboard contrary to the terms of the resolution.

Patricia Lesko

Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 3 p.m.

Kunselman alleges Grand's campaign is one of "revenge." A look at her campaign finance forms and we see many, if not all, of the same politicos listed, including Janis Bobrin, Leah Gunn, Jean Carlberg and Joan Lowenstein, who supported Ingrid Ault in 2011 against Kunselman. So is Grand's campaign rooted in revenge as opposed to a desire to bring more creative and effective ideas about public policy to local government? To date, I haven't heard her speak or read write about significant or specific ideas for, say, increasing city revenues, or dealing with the underfunded retiree health care/pension time bomb. The one time I heard her speak on infrastructure maintenance (June 8th), she said it's not possible to pave all the roads that need paving. I'd like to hear why, as PAC Chair, Ms. Grand failed to speak out against zoning parkland for transit, and why she helped block an effort by Council member Lumm to extend voter approval of parkland use by city officials to include long-term leases. Does she oppose giving the public a vote on whether parkland may be leased? Her votes say she does. Ms. Grand has a lot of explaining to do before the public should be convinced hers is NOT a revenge campaign. Right now, it looks like she is a puppet put up by DDA Board members and their friends to run against a Council member whose efforts since 2010 to represent the best interests of taxpayers and push for accountability and oversight of John Hieftje's political appointees has irked a group of political appointees who don't like their authority questioned by anyone, particularly Council and the voters.


Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 2:56 p.m.

My vote is for Stephen Kunselman. He represents the 3rd ward with zealousness. Ann Arbor is more than just the downtown area. Our streets need attention and we need more police and fire employees to keep the city safe. He is fighting for all the right agendas. He doesn't need anyone else to think or speak for him. His opponent seems to be unable to speak for herself and relies on others to form her political platform.

David Cahill

Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 1:48 p.m., how about posting links to the campaign finance reports?


Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 1:18 p.m.

It's seldom remembered that Shakespeare was actually right pretty often, but it's hard to forget what he said caused tangled webs like these.


Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 12:45 p.m.

The time sequence for the entry of candidates opposing Stephen Kunselman and Jane Lumm is telling. After Kunselman and Lumm introduced their proposal to reign in the growth of the DDA's TIF revenue and establish limits on duration of member appointments, the mayor urged that the resolution not be considered until after the upcoming election. Almost simultaneous with the mayor's request were the entries of Kirk Westphal and Julie Grand in the upcoming City Council elections to oppose Jane Lumm and Stephen Kunselman, respectively. Kirk Westphal had been appointed Chair of the Planning Commission by mayor Hieftje many years ago and Julie Grand was chosen by the mayor to lead the Ann Arbor Park Advisory Commission (PAC). Both are indebted to the mayor and share his favoritism for the DDA and his visions for high density downtown development and rail transportation. The elections of Higgins, Westphal and Grand will assure the mayor majority support in City Council and defeat of any proposed restrictions on the DDA as well as maintaining the present D1D2 zoning established in 2009 by the mayor and the Kirt Westphal-led Planning Commission. Also likely to be approved soon with their help will be the plans for a $66 million railroad station on Fuller Road and even more expensive light rail for Ann Arbor corridors. A lot rides on the upcoming elections. The issues are clear. Get out and vote!


Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 2:57 p.m.

Please, 2nd warders - return Jane Lumm, a rare voice of reason.


Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 1:17 p.m.

ERRATA: I misspelled Kirk Westphal's first name in the second to last paragraph for which I apologize. At least it is correct elsewhere in the comment.

4 Real

Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 11:49 a.m.

This isn't Eaton's first campaign, and Griswold has managed others before too. If he can't get the simple report done right, what will he do to the city? Vote to keep Higgins.

Jack Eaton

Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 2:46 p.m.

You are correct, this is not my first campaign. The errors in my report are my fault. Kathy Griswold is not my treasurer and had no role in completing this report. My treasurer uses campaign reporting software that had problems handling my successive campaigns in 2012 and 2013. We were distracted by those problems and missed a few errors. We will file an amended report with the omitted contributor addresses and employment information. Additionally, there was an error in reporting an in-kind contribution. That too will be addressed in the amended report.


Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 11:36 a.m.

I would like to bundle some campaign cash for a candidate. My aim is to land a coveted ambassadorship to Ypsilanti.

Nicholas Urfe

Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 4:29 p.m.

Hah! I would nominate you for ambassador to Wayne County, but Conan is doing the work of ten in that role.


Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 11:14 a.m.

Symbolism abounds here and we can confidently predict that will endorse Grand over Kunselman. The photo contrasts the librarianlike Grand and the Groucho Marx "look at the grouse" Kunselman. is pretty overt when backing their candidates.

Ryan J. Stanton

Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 12:29 p.m.

You're reading a bit much into a harmless photo showing both candidates looking similarly contemplative. I actually don't even know who we're endorsing in council races this year (I stay out of that stuff). You guys are welcome to think whatever you want, but the truth is the people you routinely claim I'm biased against, including Stephen Kunselman, laugh at that suggestion when I talk to them and they tell me they think I'm fair and accurate. I get along with Kunselman and talk with him frequently, I'll be talking with him again today, and I know he wouldn't hesitate to let me know if I wasn't being fair.


Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 11:36 a.m.

I can never tell if it's overt or if it's just the combination of bias and zero editorial oversight.

Elijah Shalis

Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 11:06 a.m.

I am voting for Eaton but if he doesn't win maybe I will run for the seat next time. :)


Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 11:43 a.m.

You can run for Teall's seat next year. I'll vote for you.


Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 10:56 a.m.

Julie Grand's financial supporters are the DDA and its entrenched supporters. They have money to burn and intend to keep it that way. Isn't the DDA grand?