Mayor and five councilmembers to run for re-election while newcomers surface

Thursday, February 25, 2016 - 7:24pm

As the deadline for filing petitions approaches, eight contenders have officially stepped forward in the 2016 election for Ann Arbor City Council.

Five out of the 10 seats on Council are open in November’s election, along with the position of mayor. Five of the six current office holders   Kirk Westphal (D–Ward 2), Julie Grand (D–Ward 3), ChuckWarpehoski (D–Ward 5), Graydon Krapohl (D–Ward 4) and Mayor Christopher Taylor are running for re-election thus far.

To vote in the upcoming City Council elections, individuals must be both a registered voter in Ann Arbor as well as a resident of the candidate’s ward. In the past, students have noted it is difficult for them to coalesce around one candidate because of the way the wards are drawn.

“So where the campus is located touches all five wards. Every address in the city including the dormitories is assigned — they’re on the map and you can see what ward they’re in,” said Jacqueline Beaudry, Ann Arbor city clerk, in an interview. “Students can choose to register to vote in Ann Arbor and some do.”

To have their name on the ballot for primary elections, which will take place in August, partisan candidates must submit a petition containing 100 signatures by April 19.

To verify a signature is viable, Beaudry said the city cross-references the petition with a database of registered voters, which is linked to the Secretary of State. According to Michigan law, voter registration and drivers operating licenses must have the same address.

Beaudry said only one candidate — Diane Giannola, a Democrat seeking the Ward 4 seat currently held by Krapohl  — has filed a completed petition as of Thursday, though petitions for others have already begun to circulate. Giannola is a former member of the Ann Arbor Planning Commission, and works as in the University of Michigan’s Tech Transfer lab as a Venture Accelerator Manager. She is a University alum.

Ann Arbor resident Will Leaf has also pulled petitions to represent the First Ward. He is attempting to run again after challenging current councilmember Sabra Briere (D–Ward 1) last year. Leaf intends to run as a Democrat, hoping to fill the seat currently held by Sumi Kailasapathy (D–Ward 1). Kailasapathy has not yet pulled a petition for re-election.

There are aso independent candidates, such as Ann Arbor resident Kevin Leeser in Ward 5, running. Independant candidates must file a petition comparable to those for partisan candidates by July 21 to be on the November general election ballot.

Leeser has pulled petitions to run as an independent candidate for a seat representing the 5th Ward. He lost in last year’s elections to Chip Smith (D–Ward 5), when he ran as a write-in candidate. Lesser is a U-M Health System nurse and University alum.

This year he is vying to fill the seat on Council currently held by Warpehoski. In last year’s campaign, Leeser focused primarily on bicycle and pedestrian safety. He has also expressed opposition to the ongoing Ann Arbor deer cull, of which Warpehoski is in favor.

For both mayoral and Council seats, each term lasts two years, with half of Council eligible for reelection each year. This year is also a mayoral election year — Taylor, currently running for mayor without opposition, pulled his petitions last month.

Candidates running for mayor must collect 50 signatures from residents in each ward of the city, requiring them to collect a total of 250 signatures.

“Even if he had, say, 100 but they were all from the Fifth Ward, he’d still need to get the 50 from each of the other wards,” Beaudry said.

Daily Staff Reporter Marlee Breakstone contributed reporting to this article.