With the deadline to register as a candidate in August’s primary elections for mayor and City Council passing on Tuesday, incumbent Mayor Christopher Taylor (D) is the presumptive Democratic nominee for mayor in November. Incumbent City Council members Sumi Kailasapathy (D– Ward 1), Graydon Krapohl (D–Ward 4) and Chuck Warpehoski (D– Ward 5) will face contested primaries.
Taylor was elected mayor in November 2014 after representing the third Ward on City Council for six years, winning a crowded ballot in the Democratic primary and defeating Bryan Kelly (I) with 84 percent of the vote
Taylor formally launched his re-election campaign on March 22. In a phone interview, he said he will not actively campaign because he is currently unopposed, though an independent challenger can still file to run for mayor or council in the general election by July 21.
Taylor said he hopes he can continue his current policies in a second term, with a focus on improving basic city infrastructure.
“We have a lot of long-term infrastructure challenges that we are adjusting,” Taylor said. “We are improving roads, and they are improving. We are working on assuring that our wastewater treatment systems are up-to-date and modernized, and that’s nearly finalized.”
He added improving stormwater to water quality on the list of infrastructure projects that he plans to substantially invest in over the next few years.
Taylor also stressed the importance of cooperation between the city and the University of Michigan, saying the relationship between the two is symbiotic. Tension between the two has recently been reignited over the University’s plans to increase transportation infrastructure, continuing a long history of opposition.
“We are long-term players, both with substantially congruent interests,” Taylor said. “It is in the interest of the University to ensure that the quality of life (in Ann Arbor) is outstanding. It is the interest of the city of Ann Arbor to ensure that the University thrive and grow and continue to be a global leader in higher education.”
With regards to the University, Taylor expressed his continued support for the proposed light rail system that would connect Ann Arbor’s vital areas, including the University’s Central Campus, North Campus and Medical Center. Some residents have raised concerns in public meetings that the city will be disproportionately funding the rail project, alleging its riders will primarily be University students.
“I very much look forward to working with the university to advance the Connector project,” Taylor said. “The University of Michigan and Ann Arbor are inextricably linked, and the Connector will improve the ability of University students, personnel, employees and Ann Arbor residents to get around. It is, I believe, a project which will benefit everyone.”
The candidates for City Council will compete in party primaries on August 2, and the winner will face an independent opponent, should any declare candidacy, in the general elections in November. No candidates have registered to run as Republicans for any of these positions.
Only the races in Wards 1, 4 and 5 are contested. Candidates Jason Frenzel (D) and Will Leaf (D) are challenging incumbent Sumi Kailasapathy (D– Ward 1) in the First Ward, while Diane Giannola (D) and Eric Lipson (D) are challenging incumbent Graydon Krapohl (D–Ward 4) in the Fourth Ward and Kevin Leeser (D) is challenging incumbent Chuck Warpehoski (D–Ward 5) in the Fifth Ward. Councilmembers Kirk Westphal (D–Ward 2) and Julie Grand (D–Ward 3) will be unchallenged in the primary election.
Eight of these candidates — with Leeser and Kailasapathy absent — participated in a debate earlier in April.