From The Daily: Vote for City Council

Sunday, November 5, 2017 - 6:31pm

On Nov. 7, Ann Arbor will be electing five City Council members, one from each of the five wards. This year, three of the seats — in Wards 2, 4 and 5 — are contested. The councilors elected this year will serve three-year terms, as the first phase of a new policy that extends City Council terms from two to four years. This extended duration in office makes it more important than ever for voters to make informed voting decisions. Local government affects not only permanent residents of Ann Arbor, but also University of Michigan students who spend the majority of their year in the city. The Michigan Daily’s Editorial Board endorses the following candidates and calls on students to cast a vote in these elections. 

Ward 2: Jared Hoffert

For the race in Ward 2, the Editorial Board supports Jared Hoffert for City Council over the incumbent Jane Lumm. While Lumm’s campaign platform is very focused on maintaining the status quo, Hoffert’s campaign offers the prospect of positive change. Specifically, Lumm seems focused on maintaining existing infrastructure, while Hoffert offers to implement new policies, including increasing mass transit. As students, we are very much concerned with affordable housing. While neither candidate has a detailed affordable housing policy, Hoffert is much more flexible on this topic, which he addressed in an interview with The Daily.

Most importantly, Lumm’s platform supports increased police presence in Ann Arbor. Given the controversial arrest of an Ann Arbor teen in September and the policing of Black and Latino fraternities on Oct. 7, the Editorial Board is concerned with and troubled by this platform. Additionally, a larger police force does not seem necessary given Ann Arbor’s relatively low crime rates, with violent crime only affecting 1.81 per 1,000 residents. Lumm also voted against making Ann Arbor a sanctuary city, which makes the Editorial Board apprehensive about her inclusivity of all people in Ann Arbor.

We believe Jared Hoffert is the best choice for Ward 2. In addition, we urge both candidates to include more detailed policy platforms on their websites.

Ward 4: Jack Eaton

For Ward 4, we support the incumbent Jack Eaton, largely due to his views on affordable housing. Eaton recognizes the issues surrounding affordable housing in the Ann Arbor area and realizes the role of gentrification in the problem. In contrast, Diane Giannola seems to distinguish between affordable housing and affordability in housing. Her housing policy centers on ensuring individuals can afford homes within their financial needs, choosing not to address the needs for subsidized housing and low-income housing. Eaton acknowledges the problem and proposes solutions not based in the market. However, Eaton ought to take more action to directly engage with the issue of affordable housing and act upon the courage of his convictions with substantive policy.

Additionally, Eaton encourages student involvement and acknowledges the significance of students participating in civic life, while Giannola does the very opposite. In a prior interview with The Daily, Giannola states she views students as transient to Ann Arbor and believes local issues do not concern them whatsoever. In fact, students in Ann Arbor are a key component to the city’s economy and are directly affected by the issue of affordable housing.

Due to his receptivity to student voice and insight in instituting more affordable housing in Ann Arbor, we support Jack Eaton.

Ward 5: Chip Smith

For Ward 5, the Editorial Board endorses Chip Smith, who is running for his second term on Ann Arbor City Council against newcomer Ali Ramlawi. Due to his incumbency, Smith has greater insight into Ann Arbor’s position and the feasibility of potential actions. He utilizes his knowledge and experience to concretely cite figures and outline plans on his campaign website.

Smith’s stances on affordable housing are more comprehensive, proactive and complete than those of Ramlawi. Smith cites exact numbers — 3,137 units of "workforce housing" by the year 2025. While Ramlawi acknowledges that a housing crisis in Ann Arbor is causing a lack of affordability and low diversity, he offers no clear solution or plan of action to counter the crisis.

Smith also has a more comprehensive stance on sustainability in Ann Arbor. He references several ongoing projects such as his Climate Action Plan — already in effect in Ann Arbor — that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent by 2025. Ramlawi, who by no means seems against environmental progress, simply outlines the issues that Ann Arbor is facing without providing truly concrete solutions or ideal projects.

Finally, Ramlawi’s operation of a local business presents a possible conflict of interest if he were elected a member of City Council. Ramlawi’s Ann Arbor restaurant, Jerusalem Garden, was one of the plaintiffs in the 2009 lawsuit against the city over plans to sell the Library Lot to developers. The City Council recently voted in favor of selling the lot to Chicago developer Core Spaces.

The incumbent advantage certainly gives Smith a leg up over Ramwali in this election, and we think his clearer vision would allow more to be accomplished under his tenure.

City Council policies have an immense effect on students at colleges in Ann Arbor. We implore students to go out and vote on Nov. 7. At the same time, we’re disappointed by the lack of acknowledgment candidates give to students. Despite the huge presence college students have in Ann Arbor, very few candidates gave weight to student voices in their campaigns. We ask that City Council candidates listen to Ann Arbor students and reflect their voices in each candidate’s respective platforms, as their actions are imperative to all members of the Ann Arbor community.

Do you love to debate today’s important issues? Do you want your voice heard? We hold twice-weekly Editorial Board meetings at our newsroom at 420 Maynard St. in Ann Arbor, where we discuss local, state and national issues relevant to campus. We meet Mondays and Wednesdays from 7:15 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.

Learn more about how to join Edit Board here.