Primary Elections 2012: Ann Arbor Guide

By Giacomo Bologna, Managing Editor
Published August 5, 2012

The city primary election is only a day away and tomorrow’s ballot will feature several local races.

Aside from voting on state and national positions, Ann Arbor residents will have to decide on the mayor and the Ann Arbor City Council.

The council consists of 10 members, with two members representing each of the city’s five wards. Every year, one councilmember per ward is elected.

This year, four of the five wards have contested races. In Ann Arbor, there is no Republican primary, but the Democratic primary on Aug. 7 will decide which Democrat is placed on the ballot this November.

Current councilmembers Sandi Smith (D–Ward 1) and Carsten Hohnke (D–Ward 5) are not seeking re-election in their respective wards. Previous city council candidate Sumi Kailasapathy and newcomer Eric Sturgis are vying for the seat left open by Smith in the 1st ward, while Vivienne Armentrout and Chuck Warpehoski are the options to replace Hohnke in the 5th ward.

Kailasapathy previously ran for council in 2010. Sturgis, while only 26 years old, has said on his campaign website he has been interacting in Ann Arbor politics since the age of 14 and most recently worked on Smith’s 2010 campaign, which defeated Kailasapathy.

Armentrout is also familiar with council elections after having narrowly lost the Democratic primary race to Hohnke after three recounts in 2008.

Incumbent Tony Derezinski (D–Ward 2) is defending his seat against MBA-holding Democrat Sally Hart Petersen. Margie Teall (D–Ward 4) is up against Democrat Jack Eaton, who ran against Teall in the 2010 primary election.

Christopher Taylor (D–Ward 3) faces an uncontested bid for re-election.

While this election is only the primary, three of the five council races will essentially be decided as only Democrats are running for those positions. The only Republican running for a position on the council is Stuart Berry in the 5th ward.

City Clerk Jacqueline Beaudry said that depending on their precinct, students will vote in a variety of locations around campus, including the Michigan Union, Michigan League, Pierpont Commons, Palmer Commons and the University Coliseum.

However, Beaudry said low student turnout is expected for the summertime primary.

“Obviously we see historically that the predominantly student precincts have a lower turnout in August” she said. “A lot of the students are away for the summer.”

Beaudry added that Ann Arbor’s expected turnout rate is 20 percent of voters, but said the expected student turnout would be lower than that.

“Some of the campus precincts will have very low turnout,” Beaudry said.

Beaudry stressed that the polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday and that voters need to make sure they turn over their ballots to have a say in each race.

“One thing we are trying to promote (is that) … the council races are often missed and you have to flip the ballot over and they’re on the backside,” she said. “We’re just trying to, ahead of Tuesday, let people know to make sure they vote — vote both sides of the ballot.”

The general election will be Nov. 7.

Uncontested in the primary, Mayor John Hieftje will seek his seventh consecutive mayoral term, having originally been elected in 2000. He faces Albert Howard.