Former council member running to regain council seat

Sunday, April 16, 2017 - 4:06pm

Stephen Kunselman, a former City Council member from 2006 to 2008 and from 2009 to 2015, has declared his intent to seek the Democratic Party nomination for a council seat currently held by Councilmember Zachary Ackerman (D–Ward 3).

Kunselman, who is currently an energy conservation liaison for the University of Michigan, said he intends to submit nominating petitions with the required number of valid signatures early this week. Kunselman lost in the August 2015 Democratic primary to Ackerman and lost the August 2008 primary to the current mayor, Christopher Taylor.

“Having served 4 terms for 8 years on City Council, I am proud of the many campaigns that I have won, and lost, in the 7 campaigns I have participated in since 2006,” Kunselman wrote to the Daily. “I am happy to do my part to ensure the visions and positions of our elected officials get the electoral scrutiny they deserve.”

Kunselman named several reasons for running, chief among them his opposition to the Core Spaces building proposal, the closure of the city’s material recovery facility and the city’s redaction of communications with the Federal Railroad Administration regarding a new Amtrak station.

“I hadn’t anticipated running again, but it became increasingly clear after talking with downtown business owners, neighbors and supporters, that our City government is going in the wrong direction,” Kunselman wrote.

In an email with the Daily, Dave Askins, the former editor of the Ann Arbor Chronicle, wrote Kunselman’s run will bring more diversity and competition to the race.

Kunselman’s entry will also raise the number of contested elections this year to three, including in Ward 5 incumbent Chip Smith versus David Silkworth, and Ward 4 incumbent Jack Eaton versus Jaime Magiera.

Askins pointed out that each candidate’s victory is contingent on how much they could energize their voter base. The 2015 primary was a close race, with Ackerman winning by 40 votes.

“If neither Ackerman nor Kunselman can get a large set of a new kind of voter to go to the polls in August, then the outcome will likely again depend on the ability of those candidates to motivate their existing loyal supporters,” Askins wrote. “Those supporters have a clear geographic distribution – Ackerman has stronger support in the Burns Park area of the ward nearer downtown, and Kunselman enjoys greater support in the parts of the ward farther from downtown."