Election day is tomorrow, and somewhat unfortunately so. Many students aren’t in Ann Arbor for the summer, and voter turnout is expected to be at a historic low. At first glance it might appear to be a dismal situation, but for those of us who will be voting in Ann Arbor City Council elections tomorrow, our votes may hold more power than we might think.
Many students fail to recognize the importance of the Ann Arbor City Council. The University can be seen as completely separate from the city of Ann Arbor. This is a great misconception that students and City Council members alike must recognize because relevant problems that students face everyday, such as off-campus housing prices and public transportation, have more to do with the city than they do with the University. The Michigan Daily’s endorsements represent the candidates we feel best represent us as students and have the experience necessary to make their platforms a reality in City Council.
In Ward 1, Eric Sturgis and Sumi Kailasapathy are running for the vacant seat. Sturgis has an associate’s degree from Oakland Community College, is an Ann Arbor Huron High School alum and has helped coach high-school tennis programs. He also has a strong desire to engage the student body. In an interview with The Michigan Daily in July, Sturgis said he would like to hold meetings on the University campus to allow students to voice their concerns. However, being young and a student is a catch-22 for Sturgis. While he clearly places an importance on engaging college students, he lacks the experience and education of his opponent.
Kailasapathy, an accountant at Ann Arbor’s Edwards, Ellis, Armstrong & Company, co-founded a women’s shelter for victims of sexual violence and fought for human rights as a student at the University of Jaffna in Sri Lanka. She also taught at Eastern Michigan University for 10 years. Kailasapathy told the Daily she feels her duty as a councilmember is to ask the right questions. She’s committed to supporting fiscal responsibility and basic services. While both candidates are concerned about the Wall Street parking garage and the Fuller Road train station, The Michigan Daily endorses SUMI KAILASAPATHY but urges her to look at these two issues more closely once in office, as they are extremely important to students.
In Ward 2, Sally Hart Petersen faces incumbent Tony Derezinski (D–Ward 2). Derezinski, a former state senator and attorney, was elected to council in 2008 and 2010. He has the significant knowledge from serving our city in the past. In 2010, he told the Daily that he wanted to increase the number of bike lanes in the city and decrease the cost of rent by instating “reasonable” height caps. However, neither of these have happened.
Petersen told the Daily she would use her past business experience to measure and manage customer satisfaction. She has been present at many City Council meetings to observe. Petersen said she has already e-mailed University President Mary Sue Coleman and has set up meetings with former and current regents. She stresses the importance of establishing a collaborative relationship with the University. Petersen also wants the University’s new companies to use downtown commercial space in Ann Arbor. The Michigan Daily endorses SALLY HART PETERSEN for Ward 2 because of her ambition and willingness to collaborate with the University.
In Ward 4, Jack Eaton is running against the incumbent Margie Teall (D–Ward 4). Both candidates have impressive backgrounds in their own respect. Teall has been a member of City Council since 2002 and is a leader in environmentalism.
Eaton attended the University and is now an attorney in Ann Arbor. He is a strong supporter of public transit and told the Daily that he wants to increase the AATA service during evenings and on weekends. This service would be very beneficial for students, as many don’t have cars.
Though Eaton has been a leader in environmentalism and led the effort to expand Ann Arbor’s recycling program, The Michigan Daily endorses MARGIE TEALL for Ward 4 because of her extensive experience in City Council. She should, however, follow Eaton’s plans and work directly with students.
In Ward 5, Vivienne Armentrout and Chuck Warpehoski are running for the vacant seat. Armentrout is a former college professor and has been involved in politics as well as civic issues. She told the Daily she wants to re-examine spending priorities. Armentrout said she supports mass transit and wants Ann Arbor residents to be able to get everywhere without a car but doesn’t agree that a new train station is needed on Fuller Road.
Chuck Warpehoski is the director of the local Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice and serves on the AATA’s district advisory committee, along with Armentrout. Warpehoski told the Daily he wants to provide better regional service for transportation. He supports building a new train station on Fuller Road. He also told the Daily he wants to improve the quality of life for Ann Arbor residents, and that includes making Ann Arbor a great place for the arts. He wants to reevaluate the Percent for Art ordinance and see if it’s really benefiting the art scene the way it should. While Warpehoski has a solid platform that addresses the many aspects of Ann Arbor, The Michigan Daily endorses VIVIENNE ARMENTROUT for her experience and sensible priorities, but urges her to re-examine her stance against the train station on Fuller Road, or at the very least, make improving the current train station a priority.