Ann Arbor has been confronted with its
share of urban planning and public policy problems over the past
few years. From the environmental impacts of a growing city to the
ever-present strains between the concerns of students and permanent
Ann Arbor residents, city government has had its work cut out for
it. In Mayor John Hieftje, Ann Arbor has found an accommodating
colleague, an innovative and practical thinker and most
importantly, a dedicated leader.

Angela Cesere

Over the span of his four-year tenure, both the city of Ann
Arbor and the University have reaped the benefits of
Hieftje’s agenda. Under his direction, the city has been
applauded for its environmental and land-use stewardship, with
water quality levels some of the best in the state. This year,
Hieftje faces a formidable opponent in Republican Jane Lumm, a
highly qualified candidate who served on City Council for six
years. However, the mayor’s past success and position on
students’ issues should lead voters to re-elect incumbent
mayor John Hieftje for a third term.

Last year, by a two-to-one ratio, voters approved the Greenbelt
initiative that proposed raising property taxes by 0.5 percent in
order to help the city purchase land that would otherwise be
consumed by urban sprawl and commercial development. Lumm initially
disapproved of the Greenbelt, and does not share Hieftje’s
enthusiasm on this critical issue.

With the hope of reducing reliance on automobiles and soothing
the crunch for parking spaces, Hieftje has pushed for the creation
of a network of bike paths that would run throughout the city. The
plan represents an imaginative approach in balancing the
city’s transportation pressures with its environmental
concerns.

While working to curb Ann Arbor’s internal transportation
problems, Hieftje plans to work with Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick
and other municipal leaders to develop a transit railway that would
make day trips to Detroit and the airport more accessible. Although
Lumm fundamentally supports the proposed railway, she offers no
extensive plan to get the job done. Hieftje’s knowledge and
enthusiasm for the issue make him the candidate most likely to keep
the railway project on track.

On top of his impressive municipal service record, Hieftje also
lines up favorably on some of the student body’s most
pressing issues. The mayor supports an ordinance to push back the
lease-signing date for off-campus housing and has voiced his
resolve to stand strong in the face of opposition from the
Washtenaw Area Apartment Association. If implemented, this plan
will alleviate the market pressures that encourage making misguided
housing decisions. While Lumm also recognized the problem, she does
not feel that an ordinance is necessary to push back the lease
date. Instead, Lumm advocates working with the landlords — a
policy we doubt will yield positive results.

In addition, Hieftje encourages increasing density within the
city, creating more affordable housing close to campus that will
reduce upward pressures on housing rates. Clearly, students will
benefit from another Hieftje term.

As mayor, Hieftje has searched for an equilibrium between
increasing development and transportation pressures and the
necessity of promoting environmental sustainability. His continued
concern for students’ interests remains vital, and his public
policy agenda is impressive. It is in light of these notable
achievements that we confidently endorse JOHN HIEFTJE to be
re-elected as mayor of Ann Arbor.

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