Student residents of Ann Arbor’s Ward 5 will be deciding a contested election when they head to the polls on Nov. 6.
Two Ann Arbor residents are battling to represent Ward 5 — an area populated by students residing in both on and off-campus student housing. Betsy Barbour Residence Hall, Helen Newberry Residence Hall and West Quad Residence Hall all fall in the modular region of Ward 5, which extends from East Madison Street to East Liberty Street and includes a small section near West Huron Street.
Republican Stuart Berry and Democrat Chuck Warpehoski are running for the seat vacated by Carsten Hohnke (D–Ward 5), who is stepping down this term. The race for Ward 5 is the only contested spot on the Ann Arbor City Council, barring the mayoral race between Democratic Mayor John Heiftje and independent candidate Albert Howard.
Neither of the Ward 5 candidates has previously served on the Council. Berry is a senior hazardous materials specialist at the University’s Department of Occupational Safety and Environmental Health. Warpehoski works as the director of the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice, an interfaith organization that deals with education and social action issues.
If elected, Berry said he would focus on improving basic services, work to reduce the budget and dismantle some government institutions, placing them in the hands of citizen-based organizations or church groups.
“When it goes back to those groups, people become more involved in those organizations and it involves a community character,” Berry said. “Talking to people and making sure that we take care of those needs that need to be taken care of.”
Berry added he plans to encourage increased discussion on issues before they are passed, noting that because he does not have an “agenda” he would be effective at facilitating discussions.
“We need somebody on Council (with) more opposing viewpoints,” Berry said. “Right now there seems just to be unanimity. For any organization you need dissenting voices so you can check and challenge ideas.”
Warpehoski disagreed with Berry’s views, and said he believes the Council has too many factions. He said his time as a social worker has helped him focus specifically on areas of common concern and find ways to work together.
“It really strikes me that there is not a lot of listening and a lot of collaboration at times,” Warpehoski said. “I think that skill of bridge building and listening is going to be one of the key skills I will bring City Council if elected.”
Warpehoski said one of his goals is to promote a healthier neighborhood and a more compassionate and inclusive community in Ward 5.
“We need to be providing those amenities, that quality of life, that really makes this a desirable community for people to live in, to open a business in,” Warpehoski said. “I am really proud that our city has invested in providing a social safety net, trying to promote environmental stewardship, and those are the things (that) I would like to see moving forward.”
Warpehoski said he will most prominently focus on being responsive to the voices of citizens and hopes to start a program that actively solicits community input.