The primary election for seats on Ann Arbor’s City Council will take place on August 4th, with candidates from four of the city’s five wards – including wards 1, 3, 4 and 5 — hoping to secure a seats for the next two years. While some candidates are currently sitting on council and seeking re-election, others are new to Ann Arbor government, and here is what you need to know about all eight of them.
Ward 1: Sabra Briere (D) v. Will Leaf (D)
Briere is seeking re-election to City Council for what will be, if re-elected, her sixth term. She is a long-time member of the Ann Arbor community, having served in positions such as officer in the Washtenaw County Democratic Party and chair of the Ann Arbor City Democratic Party. She also spent a lot of time volunteering for organizations like the Huron River Watershed Council and the Natural Area Preservation/Parks.
Briere’s campaign agenda seeks to accomplish many projects, including: updating the city’s building and zoning laws, developing better transportation by spending more on sidewalks and roads, seeking more affordable housing, and increasing financial opportunities for local businesses.
While Briere does not solicit or accept endorsements from her fellow city council members, she is officially endorsed by the Huron Valley Central Labor Council.
Although he’s not a newcomer to Ann Arbor, Briere’s opponent, Leaf, is new to City Council scene. Leaf has lived in Ann Arbor since 1993 and, after graduating from the University, started his own mineral sunscreen business that is based outside the city.
In terms of his experience with politics, in 2008 Leaf lobbied for a video privacy ordinance that, according to MLive, “would impose limitations on police surveillance of citizens.” Leaf also served as the co-chairman of the short-lived Mixed Use Party, which advocated for more mixed-use zoning in the city.
If elected, Leaf pledges to do the following: increase road repair funding, create an annual bus pass available to all city residents, improve pedestrian safety by adding more barriers, medians and pedestrian-activated stoplights and reform zoning laws to preserve farmland and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Ann Arbor.
Leaf is endorsed by former Ann Arbor City Attorney Elizabeth Schwartz and two local businesses — RoosRoast Coffee and Kaleidoscope Books and Collectibles.
John Roos, the owner of RoosRoast, said Leaf has the right mindset for a City Council representative.
“Will Leaf is a resident citizen of Ann Arbor and his outlook is well balanced for this city’s complex future,” Roos said.
Ward 3: Stephen Kunselman (D) v. Zachary Ackerman (D)
Like Briere, Kunselman is also up for re-election. He has represented Ward 3 on City Council for three terms. Since he got his start on council in 2006, Kunselman’s accomplishments include leading the effort to stop the dissolution of the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority, reforming the Downtown Development Authority and advocating for a skate park — which now exists — in the Ann Arbor.
If re-elected to the council, Kunselman promises to focus on the following: justly distributing the city’s financial resources, investing in infrastructure, providing more funding for parks and rebuilding the city’s public safety department.
Kunselman is endorsed by the Sierra Club, Michigan Chapter and the Sierra Club, Huron Valley Group. The club is the nation’s largest grassroots environmental organization. In a press release published on July 16th, the organization — which is also endorsing Kunselman’s fellow candidates Jack Eaton and Mike Anglin — commended these men for protecting the city’s environment.
James D’Amour, political chair of the Sierra Club, Huron Valley Group, said the three candidates support the environmental causes they value.
“These candidates have been consistent in their policies and standing up for fundamental values we are looking for,” he said.
D’Amour also commended Kunselman for being “steadfast in the protection of our parks.”
Running against Kunselman is Zachary Ackerman. Ackerman has lived in Ann Arbor since he was eight years old and currently works as an IT supervisor for the University. He also works remotely on the national managing committee for a Washington DC-based human rights advocacy organization called STAND. Ackerman also worked on current Ann Arbor Mayor Christopher Taylor’s campaign and serves on the executive board of the Ann Arbor Democratic Party.
Ackerman’s political agenda consists of improving the city’s water and sewage systems, planting more trees in high-risk flood areas to increase initial protection against dangerous weather, making plans to provide housing or shelter to Ann Arbor’s homeless population, developing programs that allow residents to invest in renewable energy and improving public transit and traffic congestion.
Ackerman is endorsed by Mayor Taylor, former Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje, current councilwoman Julie Grand and the HVCLC.
Taylor believes Ackerman to be a similar politician to himself.
“Zach is a careful, thoughtful person,” Taylor said. “We share many of the same values and visions.”
Ward 4: Jack Eaton (D) v. Jaime Magiera (D)
Like Briere and Kunselman, Eaton is also seeking re-election to City Council. Other than as a representative for Ward 4, Eaton has served the city as an attorney and as the president of the Friends of Dicken Woods, an organization dedicated to preserving the integrity of the underdeveloped Dicken Woods neighborhood. Eaton also founded the South Maple Group, an organization opposing a proposed housing development project on South Maple road and co-founded the Neighborhood Alliance, a group connecting neighborhood environmental protectionists as well as historic preservationists among other activist groups.
Eaton’s political agenda consists of adding jobs in the public safety sector, maintaining weekly trash pick-up, improving Ann Arbor’s stormwater system, restoring a leaf pick-up system in the fall, improving the city’s watersheds and protecting local transportation.
While Eaton is endorsed by the Sierra Club’s Huron Valley Group and Michigan Chapter as well as the HVCLC, Eaton does not seek out endorsements. In an e-mail to the Daily, Eaton wrote that he does not believe this information is critical to garnering votes.
“I am campaigning door-to-door this year, as I have in past campaigns,” Eaton wrote. “When speaking with voters, I find that they are interested in what I have done during my first term and what my positions are on issues that interest them. I cannot recall any voter ever asking about endorsements.”
However, in a newsletter published by his campaign on July 11th, Eaton was quoted saying he is very grateful for the endorsements from the Sierra Club and HVCLC.
“I am proud to announce that the Huron Valley Central Labor Council has endorsed my campaign for City Council,” he said. “I have strong ties to the labor movement, and I share their goals and values. For those reasons, I am especially grateful for the HVCLC endorsement.”
Eaton echoed this statement when expressing his gratitude to the Sierra Club.
“I am proud of my work with the Sierra Club and look forward to being an environmental advocate in the years to come,” he said. “I am especially gratified that a group that has been such a strong voice in local environmental advocacy has expressed support for my campaign.”
Eaton is running against Jaime Magiera, a technology consultant at the University.
“My focus is on strong, fiscally responsible city services and infrastructure,” Magiera’s website reads.
Magiera hopes to additionally improve the following aspects of Ann Arbor if he is elected: communication between the city’s staff and residents, mass transit services, sidewalks, traffic management systems and bike lanes, affordable housing availability and local business venture facilitation.
While never having ran for a position in Ann Arbor government, Mayor Taylor believes he would be a fine councilman.
“Jaime is a newcomer to politics in Ann Arbor,” Taylor said. “I did not know (him) before the campaign, (but) everything I have seen of his writings and observations have been careful and reasonable and forward-looking.”
Ward 5: Mike Anglin (D) v. Chip Smith (D)
Anglin is seeking re-election for his fifth term as City Council representative for Ward 5. Some of his accomplishments on Council thus far include presenting a resolution to request all Ann Arbor streets have a speed limit of 25 mph and proposing the completion of a Washtenaw Border-to-Border Trail. Outside of his involvement with the council, Anglin serves the Ann Arbor community by volunteering with organizations such as Kiwanis, Meals on Wheels and the Family Learning Institute.
If re-elected, Anglin looks to preserve the integrity of the city’s neighborhoods, maintain and improve the city’s vital services and infrastructure and be an advocate for the city’s park system.
Anglin is endorsed by the Sierra Club, Huron Valley Group and the Michigan Chapter, along with many Ann Arbor community members — endorsements that can be found on his campaign’s webpage. Many of the people featured on the site said Anglin has made a great City Council member thus far.
“Mike Anglin has been a terrific Council member,” former councilmember Bob Johnson said. “(He) has always fought for fiscal sanity and for a city government that prioritizes its resources and expenditures so that projects that truly benefit the citizens of Ann Arbor can be implemented. He has worked for better roads, safer streets and environmental values.”
Anglin’s competitor is Chip Smith. Smith has been a city resident since moving to the Ann Arbor for graduate school in 1995. For the last 15 years, he has been an urban planner for Wade Trim Associates, Inc., for whom he works on a range of city issues such as zoning, planning and the delivery of services.
If he is elected to represent the fifth ward, Smith hopes to develop a comprehensive plan for organic and food waste diversion, encourage the growth of green infrastructure around the city, add improve all forms of transit, specifically by implementing a commuter rail line from Ann Arbor to Detroit.
Smith is one of the three candidates that Mayor Taylor is endorsing.
“I’ve known (Chip Smith) for years,” Taylor said. “He is smart and thoughtful and engaged and looking forward to finding the right balance between the provision of basic services and making improvement to the quality of life.”