Less than a month before the Nov. 3 general election, Ann Arbor resident Eric Sturgis announced he is running as a write-in candidate for City Council in Ann Arbor’s 1st Ward. Sturgis will challenge University of Michigan professor Lisa Disch for the open seat.

Raised in Ward 1, Sturgis is an Eastern Michigan University alum and master’s student in sports management at EMU. He said he has also worked closely with high school and college students in particular as a tennis coach. 

Sturgis is running to bring discussion and transparency to City Council, as these qualities were lacking in the primary election, Sturgis said.

“Unfortunately, there was not a lot of discourse on issues that we’re facing in the First Ward in Ann Arbor, and I decided that residents need to have that discourse on important issues,” Sturgis said.

Sturgis’ opponent Disch said her team ran a “thorough and energetic” campaign this summer and is instead focused on efforts to pass the Affordable Housing Millage and change the party in the White House this November. Disch said her and her team are actively knocking on doors for the Millage and handing out voting guides for the November election.

“I don’t think that the write-in candidate is offering anything different than my opponent in the primary did, so for me this isn’t really changing my plans, which is that I am really focused on what needs to get done in November: we need to pass the affordable millage and we need to make sure we have a change of the party in the White House,” Disch said.

Disch said she is not likely to change her plans as the election nears, highlighting the importance of focusing on issues for this election, rather than one City Council position.

“As far as I’m concerned, the primary settled the question for Ward 1, and I think most Ward 1 voters feel the same way,” Disch said. “We have way more important things to do in November than focus on this City Council seat. So I am moving forward, and I am confident that that is the right choice, that I need to make the choice for the broader good.”

If elected, Sturgis said he wants to focus on affordable housing policies and implement reasonable development plans for the city, particularly noting the need to be careful about over development.

“I support reasonable and responsible development,” Sturgis said. “What I don’t support is what I call development on steroids, like the Barton Greens, where we’re putting student housing on Pontiac Trail, which couldn’t be further from campus.”

Disch said she is also focused on increasing affordable housing and hopes to accomplish this by changing zoning policies to support transit-orientated development. This would provide denser forms of housing in parts of the city that utilize buses. 

“Ann Arbor has spent the last 10 to 15 years relying on the market to provide affordable housing, and that doesn’t work unless you make some changes to encourage the market to give you different kinds of affordable housing,” Disch said. “So, if we want to make the market part of the solution, and I think it should be, we need to change zoning.” 

In regard to policing, Sturgis said he supports the police chief and hopes to empower the Independent Citizens Police Oversight Commission. Sturgis noted that he disagrees with some of the current policies with the ICPOC. 

“Unfortunately, the mayor and some of his council members passed a watered-down version of ICPOC,” Sturgis said. “I would have supported the system’s task force recommendations, which would have empowered ICPOC and would have given them more oversight.”

Sturgis also noted his stance on the Gelman plume, after the fourth consent judgment was released in early September. Ann Arbor citizens have voiced concerns over the effectiveness of the proposal, and Sturgis said he agrees with the need to consider an Environmental Protection Agency Superfund strategy. The proposal includes using extraction wells to clean up the plume, however some of this extracted water would be deposited into First Sister Lake.

“With the Gelman plume, the consent judgment four is to dump toxins in the First Sister Lake, and to me, that is unacceptable and we cannot accept that consent judgment,” Sturgis said. “I think I’ve heard from many residents and many stakeholders that that’s not a good judgment. I think we need to look at an EPA superfund.”

This article has been updated to include additional comments from Lisa Disch. 

Daily Staff Reporter Jenna Siteman contributed to the reporting for this article.

Daily Staff Reporter Kristina Zheng can be reached at krizheng@umich.edu.

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