BY THE MICHIGAN DAILY
Published November 2, 2014
The upcoming Nov. 4 election has the potential to change politics both on and off campus. Tuesday’s ballot will cover a host of issues relating to students, including the election of two University regents, a new Ann Arbor mayor and a hotly contested election for state governor. While it often seems like elections are a topic with little everyday impact, students should pay attention to local and state elections. Basic services and housing costs are influenced by the future mayor, while University financial decisions are made by the Board of Regents. Similarly, all Michigan residents will be affected by the gubernatorial election. Because there is so much at stake, students must pay attention to the issues and make informed decisions Tuesday.
For the first time in 14 years, Ann Arbor will elect a new mayor to serve the city’s residents. Ann Arbor City Councilmember Christopher Taylor (D–Ward 3) is running against independent candidate Bryan Kelly in this year’s mayoral election. Taylor’s platform relies partially on reinforcing strategies that current Mayor John Hieftje (D) has utilized in the past. Taylor is a strong advocate for expanding public transit, increasing outreach to students and initiating change in downtown development and zoning districts. While Kelly has noted the importance of restructuring our development infrastructure, his platform is focused on the city’s debt, especially pension debt and health care.
While it’s clear that Kelly is passionate about the city and its people, his visible lack of experience is a red flag for voters. With the city’s focus currently on the Downtown Development Authority and expansion of public transit and related services, The Michigan Daily Editorial Board endorses CHRISTOPHER TAYLOR for mayor. However, honorable mention is given to independent candidate Bryan Kelly for his obvious passion and investment in the city’s issues, and his initiative to reach out and connect with students. Kelly should continue his political career and with future experience, he will hopefully prove to be a great candidate for the city.
In the race for two seats on the University’s Board of Regents, four candidates have become the frontrunners: Mike Behm, Rob Steele, Ronald Weiser and Katherine White. Of the four, the Daily endorses KATHERINE WHITE and RONALD WEISER. White, a current regent, has maintained a strong relationship with the student body throughout her terms, including the reporters at the Daily. White has previously said she endorses lowering tuition for students as well as increasing minority enrollment and diversifying campus. With a strong background in higher education and advocacy for diversity on campus, White is an excellent choice for the board.
Newcomer Ronald Weiser is a University alum, a former ambassador to the Slovak Republic and the founder and CEO of multimillion-dollar real estate firm McKinley Associates. Weiser has demonstrated his dedication to the community. His service on the board for the Detroit Institute of Arts shows his dedication to the arts, which is encouraging for the University as he emphasizes greater funding for non-specialized programs. Weiser believes his background in business can help the University better manage its funds, especially with regard to responsible budgeting and lowering student tuition. On diversity issues, Weiser plans to increase diversity by lowering tuition and improving accessibility. Weiser, who has strong ties to the Ross School of Business, must focus on all parts of the University in order to be successful.
The 2014 gubernatorial election pits incumbent Republican Gov. Rick Snyder against former U.S. Rep. Mark Schauer. The decision was difficult, as the editorial board had reservations with some of the stances of both candidates on different issues.
Though the course of the state economy has trended positively during Snyder’s term, his policies, such as the elimination of the Michigan Business Tax, tax reforms and elimination of various tax credits for individuals that mostly affected the middle and lower class and introduction of taxed pensions, have delivered good, but not sensational, results at the expense of the aforementioned raises in personal taxes. Education funding, while initially cut under the Snyder administration, has trended upward over the past four years, but his plans for more educational choice have spawned charter schools that lack oversight. His role in the Detroit bankruptcy proceedings and the Grand Bargain were instrumental, but his pro-fracking and other environmental and energy stances lack the progressivism we wish to see. Snyder also continues to dodge questions on social issues, and it’s difficult to figure out where he stands.
Meanwhile, Schauer says a lot of the right things, but lacks details on how he would implement his ideas. He wishes to reinstate tax credits for lower- and middle-class individuals and eliminate the pension tax, as well as repeal Right to Work legislation. However, his general proposals such as cutting waste and expanding the tax base do not specifically answer how he would achieve the increased revenue needed to accomplish things like substantially increasing education funding, rendering his plans idealistic. He says he would not have instituted an emergency manager in Detroit, but hasn’t provided details on how he would have dealt with the situation differently.
However, Schauer sets himself apart from Snyder with his stance on social issues, his progressive environmental visions and his vision for education in the state. The Michigan Daily has a strong precedent of placing importance on these issues, therefore, we endorse MARK SCHAUER for governor.