The state of Michigan’s Aug. 2 primary elections will see Ann Arbor voters decide general election candidates for mayor and city council, as well as vote on a millage proposal to fund expansions for the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority (TheRide). Voters will also choose candidates for governor, U.S. representative, state senator, state representative, county commissioner and delegate to the Democratic Party’s Washtenaw County convention.
Ballots will contain one column with candidates for the Democratic Party and another for the Republican Party. Voters must choose one of the two columns to fill out. To see your polling location and what your ballot will look like on election day, check the Michigan Voter Information Center.
Because Ann Arbor leans heavily Democratic, with the mayorship and all 10 City Council seats currently being held by Democrats, those who win the Democratic primary nominations are all but guaranteed to win in the November general election.
Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority (AAATA) Expansion Proposal
The millage proposal on the Aug. 2 ballot seeks to levy a property tax to maintain and expand the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority. If approved, the millage rate would increase from 0.7 to 2.38 mills ($2.38 for every $1000 in taxable property value) over a five-year period from 2024 to 2028. The collected revenue would fund a number of expansions to TheRide, the bus system serving the greater Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti area.
The proposal details a number of improvements it seeks to make to the transit system, including the expansion of late-night, weekend and holiday services, the introduction of an express route between downtown Ann Arbor and downtown Ypsilanti and funding for projects such as zero-emission buses.
Democratic voters in Ann Arbor will decide between Anne Bannister and Christopher Taylor for mayor. There are no Republican candidates on the ballot for mayor of Ann Arbor.
Taylor, having served since 2014, is seeking his second reelection bid. Taylor’s tenure has been defined by his pushes for high-density housing and more city services for residents. In 2020, five progressive challengers endorsed by Taylor swept the city council elections, leaving the mayor with a council majority.
Bannister served one term on the City Council, from 2017 to 2020, and was ousted after Lisa Disch won the seat for Ward 1 over her. She has expressed support for the A2Zero campaign, which seeks a transition to carbon neutrality in Ann Arbor by 2030. During her time as a councilmember, Bannister voted against several new affordable housing developments in the city. She has, however, sponsored plans to evaluate and develop proposals for additional affordable housing while on the council.
Voters residing in Wards 1, 4 and 5 will each decide on one seat on the Ann Arbor City Council. Wards 2 and 3 each have only one candidate running for the council.
In Ward 1, Cynthia Harrison and Angeline Smith are vying to succeed Councilmember Jeff Hayner, who will be stepping down after one term in office. Hayner survived a recall attempt last year after posting a homophobic slur on Facebook and was condemned by City Council for using a racial slur in an interview about the failed petition. He defended his use of the racial slur in a City Council meeting this July.
Lifelong Ann Arbor resident Harrison, who has received endorsements from Taylor, state Sen. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor, and the University of Michigan’s Graduate Employees’ Organization, is running on a campaign of criminal-legal reform that prioritizes mental health, affordable housing and walkable, bike-friendly infrastructure. Harrison serves on Washtenaw County’s 21st Century Policing Compliance Commission, as well as Ann Arbor’s Independent Community Police Oversight Commission.
Smith is a businesswoman and Detroit native seeking her first term on the council. Smith describes herself as a progressive Democrat and has named fiscal integrity and community mental health as two main tenets of her campaign. Smith currently serves on the board of the Arrowwood Hills Cooperative in Ann Arbor.
Ward 4 will see a three-way race among incumbent Elizabeth Nelson, Mozhgan Savabieasfahani and Dharma Akmon.
Nelson has received the support of GEO for her work with the union on the Early Leasing Ordinance in 2021. According to Nelson’s campaign website, she supports organized labor efforts, environmentally-conscious city growth and renters’ rights. Throughout her tenure, Nelson has often voted against proposals that would facilitate or accelerate housing development in the city.
Akmon is an Ann Arbor District Library trustee and an assistant research scientist at the University. Key issues that Akmon has identified for her campaign include reliable city services, swift climate action and accessible public transportation. Mayor Taylor, Sen. Irwin and the Huron Valley Area Labor Federation are among those who have endorsed Akmon.
Newcomer Jenn Cornell is running against one-term incumbent Ali Ramlawi in Ward 5. Ramlawi, owner of Jerusalem Garden, was first elected to the council in 2018. Ramlawi’s campaign website notes affordability, climate action and support for local businesses as key issues for his candidacy. The website also states that Ramlawi is for “responsible private development” in the city, though he has opposed development and rezoning proposals during his time on the council.
Cornell is a volunteer for A2Zero and a board member of the Ecology Center and the Main Street Area Association. Cornell’s campaign website states that her core values include support for Ann Arbor businesses and development of housing and infrastructure that accommodates a diverse set of residents. Cornell has received endorsements from Mayor Taylor, progressive council members, such as Ward 5’s Erica Briggs, and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan, among others.
A full list of candidates for Washtenaw County voters can be viewed at Washtenaw.org. Those who have not yet registered to vote can do so up to 8 p.m. on election day at their city or township clerk’s office with proof of eligibility and residency.
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to add further context regarding mayoral candidate Anne Bannister’s previous stance on affordable housing, to clarify city council candidate Cynthia Harrison’s commission experience and to now reflect the Candace Miller that is running for congress instead of the former congresswoman of the same name.
Summer News Editor Irena Li can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.