The Democratic candidates for Ward 3 of City Council participated in an online forum via Facebook Live Wednesday evening. Participants included Evan Redmond, Travis Radina and Anthony Brown. Around 65 people attended the forum virtually.
Zachary Ackerman, D-Ward 3, is the current council member for Ward 3, but he is not running for re-election.
Evan Redmond, Democrat for Ward 3
Redmond, a University of Michigan alum, works as a targeting analyst at marketing analytics firm Valassis. His platform focuses on combating climate change, creating affordable housing and police oversight.
Redmond emphasized the need for reallocating Ann Arbor Police Department funding to fulfill other community concerns. According to Redmond, the AAPD’s current budget of $30 million is way too large and causes over-policing. He proposeds decreasing this budget to combat systemic racism and cover the $10 million budget deficit projected in 2021 due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We live in a time of great inequity and inequality,” Redmond said. “The divide between the rich and everyone else continues to widen. In my view, the only way to stand up to this trend is to build a multiracial, multi-generational, working-class movement. We have to take action to eliminate oppressive institutions.”
Redmond said he believes climate change is the most important issue faced by Ward 3 as numerous condominium residents have been forced to relocate due to flooding. He said Ward 3 needs to invest in energy infrastructure to combat the effects of climate change.
Travis Radina, Democrat for Ward 3
Radina, also a University alum, is president of the Jim Toy Community Center and LGBTQ+ liaison to the mayor’s office. His platform involves achieving Ann Arbor’s carbon neutrality goals, ensuring clean drinking water for all residents and creating green jobs for a unionized workforce. Radina also aims to counter economic segregation.
Although affordable housing and a lack of good roads are key issues faced by Ward 3, Redina believes that lack of accessibility and responsiveness of City Council and its representatives is the most important issue to be addressed.
“I believe Ann Arbor residents pay for and deserve better than basic when it comes to community services,” Radina said. “My top priority will be to make sure that the residents have access to councilmembers who are responsive to their needs.”
Radina said that although Ann Arbor is one of the most prestigious cities in Michigan, there is a disparity between the benefits enjoyed by white communities and communities of color due to systemic inequities in local government policies.
“Communities of color have not always shared that distribution of wealth, education attainment or job growth,” Radina said. “There are dramatic disparities in life expectancy in white residents and residents of color.”
Radina also said City Council must do everything possible to manage the predicted $16 million budget deficit caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. He said, if elected, he would work to combat budget shortfalls without laying off unionized employees, as well as prevent outsourcing and privatization.
Radina said the budget shortfalls can be managed by changing frequencies of non-essential services such as lawn mowing in town parks and enacting hiring freezes for non-essential staff.
Tony Brown, Democrat for Ward 3
Brown, a University alum and digital distribution manager at WDET, said he stands for affordable housing, environmental equity and government responsiveness. He said he believes one of the most important issues faced by Ward 3 is gentrification that doesn’t align with the city’s traffic patterns.
“(The city) is proposing to wall off (Burton Road) and do some development, but they never even researched the traffic study,” Brown said. “Traffic would probably run all the way back to Stone School.”
Brown emphasized the importance of having diverse representation on City Council in order to ensure that the residents’ needs are met.
“I’ve seen what happens when communities don’t have a voice,” Brown said. “I know what local governance looks like when leaders stand for their constituents ineffectively. It leads to social and racial inequality and a waste of tax dollars.”
Brown also said it is essential to have more racial representation in local governance to counter racial injustice.
“When is the last time we had a Black city administrator in Ann Arbor?” Brown said. “It’s been over 60 years. We haven’t had a Black mayor in Ann Arbor since the 70s. We need to stop having white people making laws for Black people. We need to have inclusion in city governance.”
Brown also said city government needs to focus on protecting basic services even though there are projected budget deficits. He said, if elected as a councilmember, he would ensure there are no cuts in water or essential services.
“My issues are your issues,” Brown said. “If I’m elected I’m going to be here for you, report to you and ensure public policy based on what you need. I want to be a part of a local government that helps people, a government that solves problems creatively and meets the challenges effectively.”
Daily Staff Reporter Navya Gupta can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.