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Christopher Taylor wins Democratic mayoral primary

By Emma Kerr, Summer Daily News Editor
and Shoham Geva, Summer Managing News Editor
Published August 5, 2014

Amid a crowded field in the Ann Arbor Democratic mayoral primary, city council member Christopher Taylor has won the position, carrying 7,070 of 16,591 votes cast for a total of 47.57 percent. He will face Bryan Kelly, an independent challenger, in the race for city mayor Nov. 4.

“This has been truly incredible,” Taylor, who declared success at about 10 p.m. Tuesday night, said in a victory speech. “Politics is in many varying ways a very humbling thing to get involved in. I am so delighted that, this night, the form of humbling that I am receiving is one of confidence and trust. For all of you here and the voters of Ann Arbor, I want to thank you. This is incredibly meaningful and I will never forget it."

Fellow Councilmembers Stephen Kunselman (D - Ward 3), Sabra Briere (D- Ward 1) and Sally Hart Petersen (D-Ward 2) also ran in the Democratic primary. Total voter turnout was at 16.67 percent.

In an interview Tuesday night, Taylor said he sees multiple priorities to address for the city.

“The city’s needs are multivariable, and our charge is to find the right balance among them,” he said. “There are big projects that we have: transportation, storm water infrastructure, the roads and the like.”

In an interview last week, he said, if elected, he plans to continue creating new transportation options, including encouraging services like Uber and Bike Share to spread in Ann Arbor, and to support the expansion of the AAATA public transit system.

Taylor also supports calculated, balanced development, as long as it does not affect the surrounding neighborhoods, promising to alter zoning ordinances to avoid situations like that at 413 E. Huron St., where residents took issue with the construction of a new high-rise complex. He also plans to make infrastructure improvements, specifically addressing the community’s need for better streets and more enforcement of parking laws throughout the city.

In an interview Tuesday night, outgoing mayor John Hieftje, who was in attendance at Taylor's watch party, said he was happy to pass on the position to Taylor. Hieftje has served at his current position for 14 years.

“There were some good candidates in the race, but Chris Taylor won and I am sure the city will be in good hands with him,” Hieftje said. “I have no regrets — everything I ever wanted to do is done and so I’m happy to leave it off to others to take over.”

Among the candidates, Taylor’s voting history has been the most similar to Hieftje's. Each candidate’s voting record, especially in relation to Hieftje’s policies, became a closely discussed theme throughout the campaign.

In relation to the University, Taylor, like most city officials, is concerned about the potential decline of Ann Arbor’s tax base following University acquisitions of city land, which takes them off the tax rolls. He has advocated for requiring the University to pay for city expenses generated by events at Michigan Stadium, which could include the cost of closing streets and increased police security.

In the past, Taylor has also advocated for heightened coordination with AAPD in relation to party control and vandalism, supported and made improvements to the pedestrian crosswalk ordinance and advocated for the removal of hornets nests from parks.

Donations for Taylor’s campaign totaled $75,698, significantly more than his fellow candidates.

Among the other candidates, Petersen remains on City Council until the end of her term in November. Because of her run for mayor, she was ineligible to run for reelection. Both Kunselman and Briere have an additional year left in their City Council terms.

In an interview Tuesday night, Briere said her goal is to continue working to accomplish the objectives set forth in her campaign.

Also in an interview Tuesday night, Petersen said in regards to future plans, she’s looking forward to focusing on her ward.

“There are a lot of issues in Ward 2, and I just want to make sure that I can move the resolution of those issues as much as possible,” she said. “For the last seven months I’ve been on City Council and I’ve been campaigning; for the next three months, it’s all Ward 2. We’re going to try to solve some of those issues the best that we can in the next three months.”

Managing Editor Stephanie Shenouda contributed to this report.