- Adam Glanzman/Daily
Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje has been re-elected to his seventh-consecutive term in office.
With 71 percent of precincts reporting as of 1:30 a.m. Wednesday, Hieftje led his challenger, independent candidate Albert Howard, 84.1 percent to 15.2 percent.
Hieftje attended a Democratic watch party at Weber Grill in Ann Arbor where a few hundred supporters, candidates and politicians filtered in and out of a packed hall plastered with campaign posters. U.S. Rep. John Dingell (D–Mich.), State Rep. Jeff Irwin (D–Ann Arbor) and several Ann Arbor City Council members were among those in attendance.
In an interview at the event, Hieftje said he hopes to continue his current policies into the next term. He added he plans to work with the Ann Arbor City Council to maintain the city's economic health and continue to advocate for environmental issues.
"The biggest motivation has been (that) I wanted to make sure the city gets through the great recession without a tax increase,” Hieftje said.
Another key issue he plans on focusing on is improving public transit within the city and county. At recent Ann Arbor City Council meetings, Hieftje has pushed for city funds for public transit projects, including a second rail station that he said would provide the clean public transportation needed for a burgeoning workforce.
"With a growing number of jobs in the city — about 68,000 people come to work in Ann Arbor from outside of town — we're seeing more and more congestion," Hieftje said.
He said he wasn't very emotional following reports of election results, but just that he was "eager get to back." He did, however, note the special challenges, especially fiscal difficulties, that will face city government in his next term.
"I probably should have been the mayor in the 1990s because there was a whole lot of money in government back then that isn't there anymore," he said.
In an interview at Howard's watch party in a community building located on Williamsburg Drive, Howard said despite his loss, he felt honored to receive 15 percent of the vote. He added that Hieftje should be more interactive with the Ann Arbor community.
“He needs to be more cautious and he needs to be more transparent,” Howard said. “Just to be more considerate to people and not taking them for granted.”
Howard, who began his political career when he ran in the 2008 presidential election, said that though he had previously competed on the national stage, campaigning locally was more difficult.
“This was more challenging because it was on home turf,” Howard said. “A lot of people don’t realize the amount it takes out of your family. There’s a lot of behind the scenes things that have to come together. But overall, it was exciting. It was hard, but it was exciting.”
Looking to the future, Howard said he would be willing to work toward amassing support to improve relations between the University and the city.
Story Updated: This story was updated to reflect new election results