Is it possible for a Republican to be elected mayor of Ann
Arbor? According to the City Council’s history the answer is
yes, but for Republican mayoral candidate Jane Lumm, being elected
to a predominantly Democratic council is still a daunting
challenge.

Lumm, a University alum and former City Council member, is
running against incumbent Democratic Mayor John Hieftje, who was
elected to head the council in 2000.

During his term, Hieftje has led the council in implementing a
broad range of projects to clean up the city’s neighborhoods
and reduce urban sprawl while preserving parkland.

“The city has faced significant challenges over the last
year, but we’ve downsized the city’s bureaucracy, the
Greenbelt project is ahead of schedule and we’ve started the
Clean Communities Program,” Hieftje said at a
candidates’ forum held Wednesday.

Lumm said she is challenging Hieftje to give the voters more
options in the Nov. 2 election. She said if elected, she will
conduct more consulting with local experts on issues debated by the
Council.

“I believe (voters) should be offered a choice; I also
believe that government balance is important. I believe our city
government can be more effective with everyone involved,”
Lumm said.

Hieftje and Lumm have opposing views on the Greenbelt project,
approved by voters last year to save open spaces in Ann Arbor,
protect the Huron River and preserve greenways and parks in an
overall effort to curtail urban sprawl.

During the project’s planning phase, Lumm did not support
the measure because she said the council rushed to place the
measure on the ballot without consulting all city officials.
“I didn’t support it initially, but I will ensure
it’s implemented in a way that is consistent with (the
voter’s) views,” Lumm said.

Hieftje was among the chief supporters of the project.

One of the challenges Lumm has faced in running for mayor is the
homogeny of the current City council. She has criticized the
overwhelming presence of the Democratic Party on the council, which
is currently made up of 10 Democrats and one Republican.

Lumm said the councilmembers have taken a common stance by
perpetuating false information about certain city issues. Lumm said
such statements have been made regarding property taxes, general
fund revenues and overall city expenditures.

Hieftje denied making misstatements on the issues cited by
Lumm.

“We do our best to save money and stretch dollars, but
there is still a lot of work to be done. The government is working
more efficiently than it ever has,” Hieftje said.

He explained that certain taxes and fees needed to be raised to
make improvements in the community, such as rebuilding the
city’s failing water system.

Hieftje said the biggest differences between him and his
opponent are their stances on the environment and the way city
government should be run.

“I stand for fiscal responsibility, a clean and green
environment and a city that welcomes everyone, no matter what their
background is. And I have a record to prove it,” Hieftje
said.

Lumm also cited leadership strategies as a major difference
between her and Heiftje, saying she would consult with more experts
on various issues debated by the Council.

City Council elections will be held on Nov. 2. Half of the
council is up for re-election, but the only contested positions are
for mayor and 3rd ward representative.

The 3rd ward is located between Washtenaw Avenue and Packard
Street, including some student housing south of the University, and
people in that ward will vote at East Quad Residence Hall.

Third ward candidates include Democratic incumbent Jean
Carlberg, Libertarian candidate Rich Birkett and Green Party
candidate Marc Reichardt.

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