This fall, the city’s well-being could fall into student hands — literally. LSA senior and College Libertarians co-chair Eric Plourde has launched a bid for mayor against Democratic incumbent John Hieftje, seeking to hold an otherwise unchallenged mayor accountable and draw attention to student issues. Plourde is more than a superficial challenge to Hieftje’s incumbency, though; he is a symbol of student potential in city government. But despite his strong candidacy, it’s hard to run against the eight years of prosperity and progress that Ann Arbor has enjoyed under Hieftje’s leadership.
Plourde says he’s most in touch with the needs of students, a claim against which it’s nearly impossible to argue. He understands how little students are consulted in city decisions and wants to make them a more integral part of the system. Also, one of his main issues is decriminalizing alcohol consumption for college-age residents, thus eliminating a common blemish on the records of many otherwise responsible students.
However, Plourde’s campaign is often reduced to MIPs and just MIPs, which only does a disservice to this smart, knowledgeable candidate. He has a strong grasp on how the mayor can best deal with the University, and has a good understanding of this city’s need for more affordable housing. Perhaps most importantly, he has held Hieftje accountable during this campaign and proven that students can be engaged, productive members of the community.
The simple truth is that Plourde has a good grasp on these issues but no experience handling anything like city government. Of course, Hieftje has already done an admirable job handling the issues Plourde has raised, among many others. He has a strong relationship with the University. He is dedicated to sustainable, eco-friendly living – a dedication that has earned him this year’s Environmental Leadership Award from the Michigan League of Conservation Voters for successful projects like LED lights and hybrid buses. And while Plourde wants to reduce the size of government and spending, Hieftje has already saved the city millions of dollars per year by reorganizing the bureaucracy. In fact, Plourde openly supports many of Hieftje’s initiatives — which is perhaps the greatest endorsement of the mayor.
Ann Arbor has flourished under Hieftje’s leadership, becoming not only one of the nation’s most environmentally conscious cities but also one of the only cities with a budget surplus in today’s uncertain economic climate. This page is confident that this progress will only continue if the mayor is re-elected. Though we are pleased Plourde is running, the Daily endorses JOHN HIEFTJE because he has already proved himself to be what’s best for Ann Arbor.