City Council candidate aims at city's budget

By Will Greenberg, Daily Staff Reporter
Published October 29, 2013

University alum Jeff Hayner, a small-business owner, is running for city council, and he’s got his crosshairs set on the city’s finances.

Hayner is running in Ward 1 as an independent against current council member Sabra Briere (D–Ward 1). Originally from Saginaw, he received a degree in industrial design from the University in 1987. During his time in school, Hayner was a resident adviser in Bursley Residence Hall and a member of the biking team.

After graduating, Hayner worked various design jobs in Midland and Ann Arbor. Hayner and his wife Lea now live in Ann Arbor with their two children. He said his interest in politics came from an interest in the city, involvement in local schools and a will to make a difference in the city.

“I’d be on jobs at people’s houses and talks would turn to politics and people would always say, ‘Hey, you know more about this than anybody; you should run for city council,’ ” he said.

Hayner’s top priority is the city’s revenue and budget — he hopes to enhance funding for areas such as the fire department and pension fund while examining areas that may be overfunded.

Overall, Hayner wants to improve efficiency of all city services, eliminating areas of overlap with other providers. He said finding ways to increase community involvement in city efforts and planning is also important.

Another relevant issue for Hayner is “sensible development” in the city — namely, providing sufficient housing throughout Ann Arbor at reasonable prices. He said the larger apartment complexes primarily used by students have in fact done more harm than good as prices have yet to decline as promised.

Similar to mayoral candidate Stephen Kunselman, currently the Democratic council member for Ward 3, Hayner supports imposing a strict ethics policy for elected officials to eliminate conflicts of interest and avoid questionable appointments.

“We’re just starting to get a mix of interests, I guess you could say, between the public and the people on city council that they’re actually starting to debate these appointments saying, ‘Is this the best person for the job?’” he said.

With regards to Ann Arbor’s relations with the University, Hayner would like to see improved communication between the two institutions, especially concerning new construction.

Council members have expressed concern that the University’s persistent purchasing of land is robbing the city’s tax roles. Hayner said he wants to explore implementing the Payment in Lieu of Taxes program, where the city would collect payment from lands that are otherwise tax exempt such as federal lands or nonprofit organizations like the University.

“We’re all living here together,” Hayner said. “Students are here; we’re all here together, so you don’t have to enter into it and it’s not something we’re saying, ‘We demand this or that.’ It’s just a conversation.”