Zingerman’s Bakehouse baker Dan Michniewicz entered the City Council race for the seat in Ann Arbor’s Ward 5 on Monday. Michniewicz, a self-described democratic socialist activist, will be contesting progressive democrat Erica Briggs for the seat that Councilmember Chip Smith, D-Ward 5, currently holds.
Smith announced in October he will not be running for re-election and told The Daily that he will be supporting Briggs.
“I am supporting Erica Briggs because she’s uber-professional, knowledgeable about the key issues facing the city, well connected to the ward, a great listener and advocate,” Smith said.
Michniewicz has been endorsed by the Huron Valley chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), the largest socialist organization in the nation, which has an increasing number of members pursuing offices in Michigan.
Michniewicz told The Daily his main platforms involve advocating for workers’ and tenants’ rights within Ann Arbor by addressing the lack of affordable housing and accomplishing the city’s carbon neutrality goals. He emphasized setting realistic goals and following through with them via local government.
“We’re looking to stop a trend that we see with the city, of setting these goals and making these promises and then coming nowhere near accomplishing them,” Michniewicz said.
With regard to carbon neutrality, Michniewicz explained the city must make large scale changes to address this issue effectively, tackling energy production specifically.
“The city in the fall passed a resolution to be carbon neutral by 2030, and since more than 50 percent of the city’s carbon emissions come from electricity, we’re not going to meet those goals unless we deal with production and specifically the production of energy,” Michniewicz said.
Michniewicz currently serves on the Washtenaw County Food Policy Council in addition to being a precinct delegate for the Washtenaw County Democratic Party. He has been a director of the Inter-Cooperative Council of Ann Arbor and a local and national leader in the DSA.
Michniewicz highlighted many of the struggles that low-wage workers face in Ann Arbor, in addition to his own experience, which he aims to use to help increase representation of workers and renters.
“I think something like that’s important, a renters’ commission, because in terms of who calls the shots in local government, and in Ann Arbor specifically, renters don’t really have a voice, they are less likely to vote and a lot of times working people can’t even afford to rent in the city,” Michniewicz said. “A lot of local politicians will talk about the plight of low-wage workers or renters or people who can’t afford to live here and have to commute in, but I work with these people and I organize with them and I’m one of them.”
Michniewicz summarized his platform by highlighting the necessity for new leadership in Ann Arbor to fully achieve the changes promised by the government.
“If we’re tallying up the promises made by the city in terms of affordable housing, in terms of community relations with the police, we haven’t really made a lot of progress on those,” Michniewicz said. “And I fear that we might see the same thing happen with our carbon neutrality goals if we don’t have new political leadership that’s willing to address the climate crisis at the necessary scale.”
Reporter Hannah Mackay can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Correction: This article has been updated to clarify that Dan Michniewicz was endorsed by the Huron Valley chapter of the DSA, not the national organization.