Ann Arbor Mayor:
An 18-year-old high school student became the mayor of Hillsdale, Mich. when he defeated Hillsdale’s incumbent mayor in 2005. More recently, a 22-year-old student from Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania ran unopposed and won his city’s mayoral election last year.
But LSA senior and Libertarian Eric Plourde had no such luck last night.
Plourde, 20, fell short yesterday in an effort to unseat popular incumbent Democrat John Hieftje, who was elected for a fifth two-year term. Hieftje received 84.73 percent of the vote, while Plourde received 14.72 percent.
“I’m ecstatic with those results,” Plourde said.
Plourde, 20, founded the University’s chapter of College Libertarians as a freshman. During his campaign, he has cited a lack of variety and libertarian voices in government as his main reasons for running.
“I always knew it was going to be tough to overcome the mayor’s electoral advantage,” he said. “But as far as getting ideas out there, talking about the things I wanted to talk about, I really think this campaign was a success for me.”
Washtenaw County Libertarian Party representatives approached Plourde last year with the party’s nomination because of Plourde’s political presence on campus. He received Ron Paul’s public endorsement in April.
Plourde’s platform included looser penalties for alcohol violations and lobbying for the drinking age to be lowered to 18.
This drew skepticism from current councilmembers.
“He’d have to teach the city council that there was a real benefit to a slap-on-the-wrist as opposed to a stop-in-your-tracks punishment, which is the current goal,” said Councilmember Sabra Briere (D–Ward 1) to the Daily in October.
Hiefjte’s platform concentrates on environmental initiatives including continued Greenbelt preservation, expanding of biking and walking paths and improving options for alternative transportation in the city.
In his next term, Hiefjte said he hopes to continue the financial plan that he has said saves the city $10 million in operating fees each year.
Early Wednesday morning, he added that he looks forward to working with the newly elected City Council in his upcoming term.
“I’m pleased to have a strong group of councilmembers as we go into what could be an uncertain future financially,” he said.
The winners of Ann Arbor’s City Council Democratic primaries in August made another clean sweep of yesterday’s polls.
With nearly all precincts reporting in Wards 1 through 4, the democratic candidates beat write-in candidates by an average 8,000 to 100 margin.
Winning with 98.82 percent of the vote, Ann Arbor business owner Sandi Smith will succeed Ron Suarez’s vacant Ward 1 city council seat. Ward 1 encompasses West Quad Residence Hall, Tower Plaza, the Law Quad, the Martha Cook Building, Betsy Barbour Residence Hall, Helen Newberry Hall, University Towers and Bursley Residence Hall.
Ward 2, which covers Northwood Community Apartments, the Hill Living Area dormitories and many Greek houses, will be the charge of seasoned politician Tony Derezinski, who has worked as an Eastern University Regent, deputy sheriff and a state senator from Muskegon. He won 98.80 percent of the vote.
Derezinski will replace Democrat Joan Lowenstein, who didn’t run for reelection in order to focus on her bid for 15th District Court judge.
From the 3rd Ward, 98.84 percent voted for Ann Arbor attorney Christopher Taylor. The 3rd Ward stretches from the South University area to East Quad Residence Hall and most of the neighborhoods between Washtenaw Avenue and Packard Street.
Incumbent Margie Teall ran unopposed and enters her seventh year representing the 4th Ward.
Ward 5 was the election’s only two-party race. Ann Arbor attorney and business owner Carsten Hohnke defeated Republican John Floyd, an accountant, 79.48 percent to 20.08 percent with ninety percent of precincts reporting.
The seat opened when current Councilmember Chris Easthope decided not to run for reelection, instead focusing on his campaign for 15th District Court judge. With Easthope gone, one of the two City Council-Michigan Student Assembly liaison positions is open. This committee works with MSA to discuss student issues.
The Democratic primary in August was closely contested between Hohnke and local business owner Vivienne Armentrout. Hohnke finally won a third recount 1,608 votes to 1,555 votes.
Newly re-elected mayor John Hieftje had given endorsements to all of the yesterday’s winning candidates.
Yesterday’s results will likely strengthen the mayor’s support among the Council.
15th District Court Judge:
Democrat Chris Easthope, a local defense attorney, was successful yesterday in his bid for election as 15th District Court judge. He has served as a 5th Ward councilmember since 2000. He was Ann Arbor’s mayor pro tempore from 2003 to 2007.
He also owns and manages the Law Office of Chris Easthope, handling civil infractions, misdemeanors and preliminary hearings for felony charges.
Easthope narrowly defeated Eric Gutenburg, first assistant prosecuting attorney for Washtenaw County, by a 18,952 to 16,996 margin with 89 percent of precincts reporting.
From 1991 to 1998, Gutenburg worked in the Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office. He has gained most of his experience with felony cases since becoming the assistant prosecuting attorney for Washtenaw County in 1998.
Gutenburg had many endorsements, including some from former mayors, councilmembers, current county commissioners and the past two 15th district court judges.
State of Michigan Rep. Pam Byrnes (D–Chelsea), City Councilmembers Joan Lowenstein and Stephen Rapundalo (D–Ward 2), Leigh Greden (D–Ward 3), Margie Teall and Marcia Higgins (D–Ward 4) and Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje were among those backing Easthope.