The city of Ann Arbor saw three out of four incumbent City Council members defeated in the August primary elections. Councilmember Kirk Westphal, D-Ward 2, lost his primary race to Kathy Griswold bt 53 votes. The Michigan Daily sat down with incoming Councilmember Griswold, to discuss her platform and future plans.
Griswold is a former trustee for the Ann Arbor Public Schools district and will run now uncontested for her ward seat this November.
Though this will be Griswold’s first term as a council member, she has attended meetings for years and is known for providing frequent, impassioned remarks during public commentary in City Council meetings. Her main points have been promoting public safety and accelerating sewer and road repairs.
Furthermore, she spoke out against a 2014 proposal to expand transit services and the 2016 proposal to increase City Council terms to four years.
Griswold emphasized she wants to work with those who research proposals, like these, before they are made.
“I want to support people who are going to (do the research), in a methodical manner, that believe in good government and want to look at data and do benchmarking before they make a decision,” she said.
Mayor Christopher Taylor, who resisted a challenge from Councilmember Jack Eaton, D-Ward 4, in the August primary and will seek his third term as mayor, said he thinks the new members will bring different perspectives to the council.
“I think we’ll see different points of emphasis from these different members,” Taylor said. “Everybody that runs for council has areas of focus, and I expect to continue to have a focus on pedestrian safety, that’s something I’ve been working on and I know Ms. Griswold has focused on that.”
Griswold has been outspoken on council issues in the past, particularly regarding crosswalk and road safety, and has been particularly critical of Taylor. Taylor said he will not resent critical statements made against him if they occur.
“I don’t take statements that folks make in the political arena personally,” Taylor said. “We are going to find areas where we have clear and obvious common ground and there will probably be areas where we’ll diverge.”
Griswold, though, accused Taylor of factionalism, saying he didn’t make effort to find common ground.
“The mayor has said publicly ‘I support people who are gonna vote the way I vote’,” Griswold said. “That’s no secret. I want to support people who are going to, in a methodical manner, that believe in good government and want to look at data and do benchmarking before they make a decision.”
The Daily could not substantiate Griswold's claims.
“I think what the voter wanted was more healthy debate,” Bannister said. “Last year when they elected me, it wasn’t because they agreed with Bannister because I was new too. I think what they wanted though was not the majority that we had.”
Taylor and other current councilmembers are considered allies because of their support of each other on certain policy issues. Of the four who were up for reelection, three –– Kirk Westphal, Chuck Warpehoski and Graydon Krapohl –– were defeated in the August primary.
Griswold said she thinks the turnover in this election came from councilmembers not listening to constituents.
“I think that one of the reasons councilmembers lost the election is because they got out in front of their constituents with ideas that they thought were the driving force and I want to be very careful and listen to my constituents and not act like I know best,” Griswold said.
Griswold compared politics to a soccer game in how different sides come together, alluding to Taylor and his allies.
“Politics is sort of like a soccer game,” Griswold said. “You get certain people together and you pick sides to play to win and you reformulate again.”
Griswold said she also believes in the importance of government transparency and tax dollar management.
“I want to stress that we are a very intelligent community and we have to have good governance,” she said. “That means being open, being transparent and looking very carefully at how we budget our tax dollars.”