Student announces City Council campaign

By Emma Kerr, Daily Staff Reporter
Published April 13, 2014

For the second election in a row, a University student is running for Ann Arbor City Council.

LSA freshman Sam McMullen officially launched his campaign for the open seat in Ward 3 on the City Council Monday.

McMullen is currently running against two other candidates, Julie Grand, a lecturer at the University of Michigan, Dearborn, and Bob Dascola, a barber based in Ann Arbor.

Though McMullen has student status, he meets the residential requirements as a lifelong resident of Ann Arbor and obtained the necessary signatures needed to run on April 11, despite the 10-year age gap between him and his opponents.

McMullen said he hopes to bring a voice for the students to City Council, but his goals for the city go beyond the interests of students. He said that after researching the current state of local politics in Ann Arbor, he sees developmental and economic room for improvement, particularly in the way the council chooses to allocate its funds.

“What started out my interest in this campaign was to represent the students that don’t have a voice on City Council, but as I sort of researched the state of politics in Ann Arbor, I realized there are a lot of things I care about,” he said.

According to McMullen, there is potential growth and progress in areas of overspending on police, hospital and incarceration needs in Ann Arbor. He added that there is a need for affordable housing and increased care for the poor and homeless in Ann Arbor, which was demonstrated by this particularly harsh winter.

“I think there are better ways we can spend our money in real ways Ann Arbor can stand behind,” McMullen said.

He added that relations between the University and the city would improve if he were elected to City Council and hopes to foster cooperation and communication, and use students at the University as a resource for the city.

“There is a complete disconnect between the Ann Arbor community, the residents and the students, and I think that is a huge resource that isn’t being used,” McMullen said. “We have 40,000 students and if you get students involved, then real changes will happen and everyone stands to benefit.”

With the election of a new mayor and the retirement of University President Mary Sue Coleman, an opportunity for real change in Ann Arbor lies ahead, he said.

“I think if the question of age comes up, I really don’t think that the quality necessary for being a good representative comes with age,” he said. “What it comes down to is that I care about Ann Arbor.”

In response to concerns about McMullen’s abilities to manage being both a student and a City Council member, Councilmember Sabra Briere (D–Ward 1) said she was optimistic about his potential for the city, but recognized the issues a student faces in running for the council.

“The people who vote most heavily in the Democratic primary are people over 50, so the challenge that Sam faces is how to establish, for the people he meets with and talks with, that he represents their views,” Briere said.

Of the five wards in Ann Arbor, all have at least one seat up for election this year. Nancy Kaplan, who is running against Kirk Westphal for the open seat in Ward 2, and Leon Bryson, who will likely be running against incumbent Chuck Warpehoski (D–Ward 5), both officially obtained their required signatures for nomination last week.