Council incumbents ousted as challengers sweep primary

Wednesday, August 5, 2020 - 12:19am

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Design by Emma Stein

Democrats Lisa Disch, Linh Song, Travis Radina, Jen Eyer and Erica Briggs won Ann Arbor City Council seats in the 1st through 5th Wards, respectively, beating incumbents. All City Council seats will be held by Democrats. All five challengers were endorsed by Mayor Christopher Taylor, and these results will give him a council majority.

Ward 1 -  Lisa Disch 

Disch won Ward 1’s seat with approximately 68 percent of the vote against incumbent Anne Bannister. She has lived in Ward 1 since 2008 and is a professor in the Political Science and Women’s Studies Departments at the University of Michigan. According to her website, she is a “life-long Democrat.”

Her goals for the future include making sure Ann Arbor has affordable housing options, restarting Ann Arbor’s commitment to recycling, pursuing renewable energy solutions, increasing pedestrian safety and strengthening relationships between citizens and the police. 

In a statement on Facebook, Disch noted how grateful she is for the opportunity to serve on Ann Arbor City Council and gave her thanks to the Ann Arbor community for supporting her. 

“Now the work begins,” Disch wrote. “But that does not mean that I disappear from the neighborhoods. As I said in my newsletter last week, you all will find me knocking on your doors again come Fall in support of the affordable housing millage--and I hope that anyone who has supported this campaign will join me. The newsletter will continue with briefings about Council. Finally, to the strangers and friends who have just made themselves my constituents--I thank you for your votes, for your time when I knocked on your doors, and for having enough faith in the possibility of change to vote for it.”

Ward 2 - Linh Song 

At 11:26 p.m. on Tuesday night, Democrat Linh Song defeated Democrat Jane Lumm in Ward 2 with 59.88 percent of the vote to Lumm’s 40.07 percent. Lumm served on City Council as a Republican from 1993 to 1998, and again since 2011 as an Independent. She announced in April she would run as a Democrat for this year’s election.

In a Facebook Live statement, Song announced she received a congratulations call from outgoing Ward 2 City Councilwoman Jane Lumm and officially accepted her electoral victory. Song thanked her campaign, her volunteers and her neighbors for their support throughout the campaign.  

“Thank you for my team, Brad O’Conner and Kerene Moore, for working around the clock so that our campaign stayed positive and true to who I am and my values,” Song said. “And thank you to all of my volunteers, some of whom I’ve known for almost 20 years, through my adoption work, or with schools, as well as within my own neighborhood. I’ve said that my neighbors are like family. We support each other through all of the challenges in life, especially now as so many of us struggle with the effects of the pandemic.”

Song, president of the Ann Arbor District Library Board of Trustees, ran on a platform that highlighted improving public transportation, affordable housing and community engagement. In her statement, Song said she hoped to work towards integration and justice in Ann Arbor. 

“Today you’ve shown that Ann Arbor is a community that can embrace change,” Song said. “We’ve shown that we are ready for the challenges ahead of us. We can be a more economically and racially integrated community. We can work towards social, economic and environmental justice. I’m excited to represent you and work together. Thank you for electing me.” 

Ward 3 - Travis Radina 

In a three-way race for the open Ward 3 seat, Democrat Travis Radina won with about 51 percent of the votes, compared to Democrat Tony Brown, who garnered 31 percent of votes, and Democrat Evan Redmond, who obtained 17 percent of votes. Radina is the director of Global Alumni Communities at the Alumni Association at the University and has served as the city’s LGBTQ liaison since 2018. He is also serving his fourth term as president of the board for the Jim Toy Community Center, and previously worked as a constituent services director and legislative director for the Democratic Floor Leader Kate Segal in the Michigan House of Representatives.

Radina’s platform focuses on public services, affordability and diversity and inclusion. He supports police reform and the 8 Can’t Wait campaign, building mixed-use and carbon neutral housing developments, and advocates for LGBTQ, race and gender issues.

In a previous interview with the Daily, Radina talked about his approach to problem solving he plans to utilize while on City Council.

“My approach to solving problems is to be very thoughtful, inclusive, and collaborative,” Radina wrote. “I’m not arrogant enough to believe that I have all the answers to every problem, but I know we are surrounded by a community of incredibly smart and talented people. If elected, I believe it will be my responsibility to be accessible and present in the community to bring more of them into the conversation about our city’s future.”

Ward 4 - Jen Eyer 

Democrat Jen Eyer defeated Democratic incumbent Jack Eaton and Democrat Mozhgan Savabieasfahani for the 4th Ward’s City Council seat with 61 percent of votes. Eaton won 29 percent of votes, while Savabieasfahani garnered 10 percent. 

Eyer told the Daily she felt grateful for her supporters and for the Ann Arbor community. She thanked outgoing councilman Jack Eaton for his service on City Council. 

"A big thank you as well to Jack Eaton for his years of service to the community," Eyer said. "And a thank you to everyone who voted and participated in this primary election, no matter who you voted for! I look forward to engaging all 4th Ward residents as we continue the conversation about the future of our beloved city."

Eyer has worked as a reporter for MLive and the Ann Arbor News, and she volunteered in the Ann Arbor Public School system and the A2Y Chamber of Commerce. Her platform supports environmental action, including cleaning up the Gelman dioxane plume, Ann Arbor’s A2Zero plan for carbon neutrality by 2030 and safeguarding Ann Arbor’s water. Eyer said she advocates for using tax dollars from new housing developments for affordable housing and bringing back a tenants’ union and renters’ commission. 

Eaton has served on City Council since 2013 and unsuccessfully ran for mayor of Ann Arbor in 2018. While on City Council, Eaton worked on a police oversight commission and voted against affordable housing developments he said he believes are unnecessary. 

Savabieasfahani is an environmental toxicologist whose platform included a resolution against military aid to Israel and a push for a $15 minimum wage in Ann Arbor. 

Ward 5 - Erica Briggs 

Democrat Erica Briggs won Ward 5’s City Council seat with 66 percent of the vote, beating Democrat Dan Michniewicz and Democrat David A. Silkworth, who garnered 20 percent and 14 percent of the vote, respectively. 

Briggs, who has lived in Ann Arbor for half her life, previously served on the Ann Arbor Planning Commission. She has also held a position on the Ann Arbor Energy Commission and was the vice chair of Ann Arbor Zoning Board of Appeals.

Throughout her campaign, Briggs has prioritized the A2Zero initiative, increasing affordable and inclusive housing and promoting more transparency in government leadership. As part of her platform, Briggs also supports building a sustainable transportation system and adding sidewalks and bike lanes to minimize carbon emissions in the city. 

Michniewicz, who currently works at Zingerman’s Delicatessen, campaigned on a platform supporting worker’s rights, affordable housing and clean energy in Ann Arbor. 

Silkworth served honorably in the U.S. Navy and Navy reserve and ran unsuccessfully for City Council seats in 2016 and 2017. His platform included selecting the Y-Lot as a site for affordable housing, building single-family neighborhoods and supporting Ann Arbor’s A2Zero carbon neutrality plan. 

Summer News Editor Julia Rubin can be reached at julrubin@umich.edu.