City resident seeks reelection for second time, emphasizes responsible urban development

Wednesday, March 8, 2017 - 10:13pm

Ann Arbor resident David Silkworth filed a petition Tuesday afternoon to run for City Council in the August primary. Silkworth will face incumbent Chip Smith (D–Ward 5), who will be seeking his second term on the council.

Smith and Chuck Warpehoski (D) are the current sitting City Council members for Ward 5 on the city’s northwest side. Warpehoski defeated Silkworth in the November election, garnering 74 percent of the vote with 9,681 votes. 

Silkworth has lived in Ann Arbor since attending college at the University of Michigan, and currently works as an insurance claims representative for households and businesses. He began attending City Council meetings last year, and developed a budding interest in local politics.

Silkworth began collecting signatures to run as a Democrat in the November 2016 City Council election, but ultimately decided to run as an independent. This August, Silkworth will run as a Democrat.

In an email interview, Silkworth explained he has always been a Democrat, but the particular issues of November’s elections prompted him to run as an independent.

“I am running as a Democrat because I am one, and I've always been a Democrat,” Silkworth said. “I ran as an independent candidate during the last general election because our community was facing a lot of really important issues, and I thought that at least one of the candidates in my ward should put people first.”

Silkworth is running on many similar points to last November, focusing on public engagement and development projects that maintain the character of Ann Arbor neighborhoods.

“Our community is still facing a lot of really important issues including the Library Lot and people’s right to participate in the decision for how it will be developed, the rate and scale of development, zoning, pedestrian safety especially around our schools,” he said.

In the past, Silkworth has been highly critical of what he deems a pro-development imbalance on the current council.

“I think that we can have responsible development that will grow our community without destroying what people have worked so hard to build,” he said. “Development can be done in a way that does not harm our neighborhoods, devalue our existing assets or cause hardships to our community.

Silkworth also believes the council needs to be more transparent when it comes to development decisions like the Library Lot.

Last year, Councilmember Jack Eaton (D–Ward 4) proposed letting the public vote on the zoning of the city-owned Library Lot on Fifth Avenue and Liberty Street, but the current City Council, including Warpehoski, voted the measure down.

“Our city government needs to be transparent about all of the issues, and they need to seek broad public engagement so that we can give people an opportunity to be a part of the decision-making process while there is still time to make a difference in the outcome on important issues,” Silkworth said.