Status quo affirmed in 2017 City Council elections

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Max Kuang/Daily

 

Tuesday, November 7, 2017 - 10:43pm

Tuesday’s City Council elections concluded with incumbents Jane Lumm, I-Ward 2, Jack Eaton D-Ward 4, and Chip Smith, D-Ward 5, emerging as winners, affirming the status quo in the legislative body.

Lumm won with 64.04 percent of the vote, Eaton with 72.6 percent and Smith with 51.47 percent.

In an interview with The Daily, Smith said the main issue of contention in this election was that of development and affordable housing. Though a majority of councilmembers support the push to build new high-rises downtown, many citizens have argued too much development would destroy the character of Ann Arbor neighborhoods.

Smith said he braced for a long and arduous campaign when he voted for redeveloping the Library Lot downtown into a high-rise by a Chicago developer, as he knew the race was going to be close with his opponent Ali Ramlawi (I).

“There were a lot of people that didn’t like my vote on the Library Lot and a lot of people don’t believe more housing is going to create affordable housing; that’s the difference,” Smith said. “A six-month campaign for this job is really hard. This is unprecedented in modern Ann Arbor political history.”

Eaton said he was pleased with the large margin of victory and will continue to work on housing affordability, transparency in government and environmental issues like the Gelman plume.

“I’m pretty pleased,” Eaton said. “I’m not surprised that I won because my opponent didn’t run a very vigorous campaign but I’m pretty pleased with the margin of victory. I’m looking forward to getting back to work.”

Lumm was unavailable for comment at the time of publication.

Though three incumbents won, there will be a new face at the City Council meeting this Thursday as Anne Banister (D) became the new representative of Ward 1 after defeating incumbent Jason Frenzel at the Democratic primary in August. Banister is opposed to the Library Lot deal and is worried about the proposed high-rise.

This means the supermajority of eight councilmembers needed to pass controversial items like the Library Lot deal has disappeared from City Council, putting Mayor Chris Taylor (D) and his allies in a tight spot if they want to push through with big plans like the new Amtrak station and new housing developments.

Taylor said he hopes to work effectively with the new council to solve pressing issues facing Ann Arbor, such as affordable housing and rising costs for services.

“I think that the issues that face us continue to face us,” Taylor said. “Those pressures are going to continue and so I expect that we’ll continue to have a conversation about how we make sure that Ann Arbor is sustainable and affordable.”