Ann Arbor’s mayoral race has reached a standstill.
Currently, there are no official debates scheduled leading up to the general election, which will pit City Council member Christopher Taylor (D–Ward 3), who won the Democratic primary last month, against independent candidate Bryan Kelly.
While the party affiliation of Ann Arbor’s mayor has consistently alternated between Republican and Democratic candidates since 1965, no independent candidate has successfully won the seat in the last 50 years.
“The math of it is not positive, and that’s kind of why I’m trying to run it more of a campaign that is beneficial to society,” Kelly said.
Taylor thanked voters on his campaign website following the primary and expressed continued focus on the city’s future, saying he is now looking toward the general election and his time as mayor if elected.
“I am honored and humbled by last night’s victory,” Taylor wrote. “Now the hard work, the important work, begins. I am so excited to get started.”
In an interview with The Michigan Daily, Taylor said much of his time until the general election takes place will be business as usual, and he will continue to campaign and make preparations to become Ann Arbor’s next mayor.”
“I will continue to serve as a member of City Council,” Taylor said. “I will of course look to make plans for the general election — there is a general election, we do need to honor the process, and if I am so fortunate as to win in November, I look forward to serving as mayor.”
Kelly said his main concern leading up to the general election has been gaining a better understanding of the key issues the city currently faces and what influence the city has on development. He also plans to discuss the kind of future Ann Arbor residents hope the city will have.
“(I am) trying to basically perform a very transparent investigation into what it’s like to run for mayor and how the city is run and what kind of city we’re going to become,” Kelly said. “I feel like there might be a lot of misinterpretation about what I’m trying to do here in one form or another, and I think primarily what I want to be is someone who is worth voting for.”
Though victorious candidates in Ann Arbor’s recent history have been affiliated with either the Republican or Democratic party, many of Ann Arbor’s mayors have run against independent candidates, such as Dominick A. DeVarti, an independent candidate in the 1950s and founder of the downtown restaurant Dominick’s.
The Ann Arbor Chronicle’s polling prior to the Democratic primary, as obtained from Public Policy Polling, found that among likely Democratic primary voters, 52 percent approved of current Mayor John Hieftje’s performance. Kelly said he hopes to reach out to those identifying not with the Democratic Party, but rather with his stances on individual issues. Taylor won the primary on a platform emphasizing a continuation of the current political climate and direction of the city as led by Hieftje.
“I think Mayor Hieftje and the council have done a wonderful job of cultivating a vibrant downtown, but sooner or later an effort needs to be made to let that energy spill out of the downtown footprint,” Kelly wrote in an e-mail. “A person who votes for me shares my vision of a future Ann Arbor where neighborhoods have more proximate culture, where the total emphasis of job creation is taken off downtown and spread across the range of neighborhoods.”
The general election will be held on Nov. 4.