Students’ best choice in Ward 4, unfortunately, will not be on the ballot tomorrow. Eric Lipson, a former Student Legal Services attorney who understands and respects student concerns, narrowly lost the Democratic primary in August to incumbent Marcia Higgins (D-Ward 4).
Instead, voters in the Fourth Ward are faced with a choice between Higgins – who switched her party affiliation last year after being elected as a Republican three times – and her Republican challenger, Jim Hood. Though neither of these two is an ideal candidate, Hood is the better choice for students.
Hood never served on City Council, but he displays a solid grasp of the issues currently facing city government. He describes the current relations between City Council and students as “nonexistent” and is hopeful that the new Michigan Student Assembly-City Council committee can help improve the situation. His desire to streamline the city’s process of approving new developments – which currently can take years – could make efforts to increase downtown density more effective. He is receptive to the idea that City Council needs to address the current fall student housing rush. And although it is difficult to imagine that the next Council will take action to address the gerrymandered wards that currently split the student vote, he would support a student-majority ward.
Some of Hood’s ideas are unlikely to help students. He asserts that Ann Arbor’s taxes are too high, deterring development and driving up rents. The tax cuts he proposes, however, would have little effect on students’ rents and would require large city budget cuts at a time when current revenues already barely cover the city’s operating costs.
Hood’s opponent, however, has shown herself to be indifferent, at best, to student concerns. As a three-term incumbent, Higgins clearly has more experience with the Council than Hood. It is not clear, however, that her work during that time merits students’ votes. Although the city’s leaders have discussed a lease-date ordinance for months, Higgins was not very knowledgeable about the proposal, for instance.
We endorse JIM HOOD in the Ward 4 City Council race.