Incumbent City Councilmember Graydon Krapohl (D–Ward 4) has won the Democratic primary election for Ann Arbor City Council’s Fourth Ward, defeating challengers Eric Lipson and Diane Giannola. Since no candidate is running as a Republican for the council seat, Krapohl will be the most likely winner of the November general election.
Krapohl recieved 40 percent of the vote with 1005 votes, beating Lipson who had 912 votes and Giannola who recieved 579. Voter turnout in the Fourth Ward was 16 percent.
Krapohl, who has sat on the council since 2014, has served on the Ann Arbor Parks Commission and as a neighborhood watch coordinator. He has been challenged by opponents for not being outspoken on any particular issues and for having a tendency to vote in line with Mayor Christopher Taylor, who has endorsed Krapohl’s re-election bid.
Lipson has served the Ann Arbor community as city planning commissioner and director of Student Legal Services. During his campaign, Lipson had been outspoken on transparent governance and described his largest priorities as pedestrian safety and limiting high-rise development in downtown.
Giannola, a 20-year Ann Arbor resident, has formerly served on the Ann Arbor City Planning Commission and is the current manager of University of Michigan Venture Accelerator. During her campaign, she has been a proponent for a large-scale, mixed-use development project.
Krapohl raised $8,972, contributing $1,000 himself to his re-election campaign. Lipson raised $4,410 for his campaign and Giannola raised $1,530.
Krapohl held an election party at the Mediterrano restaurant on South State street, attended by supporters and family. As the ballot counts began to come in, Krapohl and supporters expressed confidence that the incumbent would be victorious.
“I feel good but we’ll see. I am feeling optimistic because we ran a good campaign and focused on the issues while keeping things positive. I think people responded well to that.”
In an interview at his party, Krapohl told the Daily that he and the council are doing a better job than what his challengers have criticized him for.
“I think we are tackling things that need to be tackled," Krapohl said. "I think it is very easy to say things aren’t being done when you are on the outside. We aren’t dealing in rhetoric but we are dealing in facts and understanding what the issues are.”
Ward 3 councilmember Zach Ackerman (D) attended the event in support of Krapohl, and complimented Krapohl's level-headed approach towards issues, which he said adds to the effectiveness of the council.
“Graydon is a terrific man, I know him to be a member of council who doesn’t seek the spotlight and speaks when it is necessary," Ackerman said. "When it is necessary, it is to cut through a lot of platitudes and rhetoric that would bog down debate, and I appreciate that voice tremendously.”
Krapohl expressed some relief after a long period of ballot counting, and was very happy with the results. He believes that the abnormally high vote count spoke for what they wanted in their city council representative
“There was a large turnout, more than what is normal, so people have said the direction of what they think is important and that did not necessarily fall in line with what my challengers were saying” he said.
After the final votes were counted and Krapohl’s win was secured, he told the Daily that he plans to continue his leadership as both objective and fair, based on sound decisions founded in fact.
“I plan to make decisions on council based on facts and not on rhetoric or emotion, and make sure that we have good processes in place to represent people fairly and equally no matter who you are,” Krapohl said. “There are a lot of changes going on, and I think the next few years are going to be dynamic in terms of what happens at the national level and in terms of funding.”
Lipson, who fell behind Krapohl by 93 votes, did not reflect a negative outlook on the outcome of the race or his incumbent opponent.
“I called Graydon to congratulate him, and I think that this was a very substantive, honest, and fair campaign. He won fair and square and that’s what it’s all about. The people have made their decision. He is a competent and honest guy” he told the Daily following the release of the election results.
“We had policy disagreements and the people made their choice.”
Notably, Lipson won among absentee voters, recieving 191 to Krapohl's 177 and Giannola's 134. Lipson attributed this strength to his campaign's targeting such voters.
“It’s a broad based campaign, absentee voters are pretty consistent voters. We sent them literature and actually visited some of them at their houses. We walked the streets and that was important.
Lipson plans to stay involved in community matters as a citizen by being a voice for issues through public forums where participation is encouraged.
“I will keep doing the same things that I’ve been doing, which is going to public hearings and meetings and continuing to participate.”
Lipson did not rule out a future run for city council, but said it would have to be in two election cycles as he would not want to challenge his friend, Councilmember Jack Eaton (D-Ward 4)
Giannola was unavailable for comment in time for the publishing of this article.