Ann Arbor residents from Wards 3 and 5 will head to the polls on Tuesday to choose their candidates in the Democratic primary election.
This year’s group of five candidates includes two incumbents, a previous city council member, a former primary candidate and a first-year primary runner.
Ward 3 residents will choose among three candidates — incumbent Leigh Greden (D–Ward 3), LuAnne Bullington and Stephen Kunselman.
All three said they hoped for greater student turnout in the primary.
Bullington said she believes student votes are key but that she was concerned that the way the wards are separated will split the student vote.
Kunselman, a former City Council member from 2006 to 2008 and current University energy management liaison, has been heavily campaigning in student neighborhoods.
“I’m hoping that the student vote on August 4 comes my way,” Kunselman said. “I think I’m the only candidate of the three that recognizes the importance of our youth.”
Greden said he was disappointed in the low amount of student voters in the past and was the least optimistic among all three candidates that the student turnout would increase this year.
“I wish students would vote more,” Greden said. “The reality is that in the third ward in August, we will see less than a dozen students cast a vote … and that’s unfortunate.”
If elected, the candidates said they would undertake issues pertinent to students including leasing policies, the proposed city income tax and student safety.
Bullington said the dim lighting on South University Avenue has to be tackled because of safety concerns.
“Mainly we need to make sure that the students are safe when they’re out and about downtown at night,” she said.
Kunselman said he was against the proposed city income tax, which would affect students working in Ann Arbor. The tax would cost Ann Arbor residents 1 percent of their annual income and non-residents 0.5 percent of their annual income.
Though Greden is a proponent of a city income tax, he said he has a “long record working closely with students.”
Greden is the current chair of the council’s Student Relations Committee. He also sponsored a 2006 leasing ordinance that gave prospective renters more time to sign leases.
“I sponsored the lease ordinance, which was brought to my intention by the students,” Greden said. “It was to help all renters citywide, but particularly students, to avoid the pressure of landlords trying to pressure them to sign leases in the early stages.”
All three candidates also agreed that there should be more communication between the city and the University.
“The city needs to better recognize the University is a key player in the community — a huge job creator — but the University needs to recognize that it cannot succeed as an employer if the city is struggling,” Greden said.
“What’s bad for the city is bad for the University,” Greden added.
Bullington said she believes there should be more communication between the city and the University. She added that it’s difficult to communicate with the University on specific issues, like the lighting on South University Avenue, because it’s a municipality on its own.
Kunselman said the University and the city share the same location and should work together to promote cultural events.
“We share space … Top of the Park is a great example of the city and University working cooperatively together to make sure that the community as a whole has a great time, as well as the Art Fair,” Kunselman said. “We need to make sure to continue and always fine-tune, especially in difficult economic times.”
Greden faced criticism from Bullington and Kunselman for the controversy concerning councilmembers sending private e-mails during council meetings.
Some of the council members, including Greden, had exchanged e-mails that discussed issues that should have been communicated aloud to the public during meetings this year.
Both Bullington and Kunselman said the main reason they are running for a City Council position is to combat the lack of ethics demonstrated by current members.
“I think the present City Council’s priorities are skewed,” Bullington said.
Kunselman said that “it’s very important that our citizenry feel engaged in trusting our local government.”
In rebuttal, Greden dismissed his opponents, saying that they were using the situation for their own political advantage.
“This is political opportunism,” Greden said. “If we put an ethics policy in place, it wouldn’t address e-mails.”
Incumbent Mike Anglin (D–5) will vie for a two-year position on City Council against first-year runner Scott Rosencrans.
Anglin said he believes his current experience as a council member gives him an edge over his competition. He said his two-year term has made him aware of what issues take priority over others and of ways to solve those issues in the most efficient way possible.
Rosencrans said he feels his communication skills and work ethic make him a qualified candidate to serve on City Council.
He said he would invest himself in “every side of every issue” so that he will have the most complete set of information to make a decision.
“I believe that the job involves communicating your ideas in such a way that they’re understandable by other people sitting at the table,” he said. “Even if you come down on the opposite side of an issue today, you have a good relationship that you can work from tomorrow.”
He added that his experience working on numerous city committees — such as the Ann Arbor Park Advisory Commission and the Ann Arbor Environmental Commission — has enabled him to study budgets, infrastructure, natural area preservation, recycling and a full range of other topics that he could face as a City Council member.
Concerns raised by the candidates include city budget efficiency, mass transit, efforts to keep the city environmental-friendly and increasing the student vote.
Both Anglin and Rosencrans agreed that maintaining an efficient city budget in the coming years takes priority over other concerns.
Anglin said residents should have more of a say in the city’s budget process and spending priorities.
Rosencrans said the city could cut costs through the concept of “regionalism” — sharing resources and facilities with townships, the county, public schools and the University to foster greater economic efficiency and cooperation among those bodies.
Rosencrans is also focused on promoting the city’s green initiatives. He said he wants to bring recycling in the business communities up to par with the programs in the residential communities, which are recycling up to 50 percent. He added that he wants better protection for the Huron River — an initiative Anglin also highly endorsed.
Mass transit within Ann Arbor is another one of Anglin’s top priorities. Anglin said he’s looking to improve transportation for students and other residents and that this issue is one that City Council and the University could collaborate on. He said a coalition between the two bodies could result in more transportation options and funding.
Both candidates stressed that they would like to see greater student turnout in the primary and general elections. Anglin said more student input could help City Council members define downtown development in terms of parking, safety, noise ordinances and building appearance.
Rosencrans said he thinks the student vote is important and that students are a part of the voting population that need to be represented.
“I think it makes for a better public voice if we have a complete population chiming in,” Rosencrans said.