Though the Ann Arbor City Council election isn’t until Nov. 3, the election that really matters is only a day away. Thanks to the city’s liberal streak, few Republican candidates enter the race, meaning that tomorrow’s Democratic primary is the real decider. But despite the importance of voting in the primary, few students head to the polls. While it’s true that students face significant voting impediments, nothing will change until students demonstrate more interest in city government.
This time around, there are two contested seats in the primary: Ward 3 and Ward 5. Vying for the Ward 3 seat are three candidates so well qualified that determining the best option is difficult.
Challenger LuAnne Bullington is an advocate for student voices in city government — she opposes the current ward structure, which spreads the student population over several wards to prevent them from influencing City Council. But her opposition to important green initiatives like LED streetlights on the basis of cost is troubling, as is her adamant support for pesky building height caps. Some city residents fear that high rises would diminish the city’s character and charm, but they would actually offer students more affordable housing and combat urban sprawl.
Another contender, Stephen Kunselman, was a Ward 3 City Council member for two years before losing his seat in last year’s election. Kunselman has earned the Daily’s endorsement in years past because of his bold and intelligent positions on important issues, including his (somewhat infamous) support of the ordinance that allowed residents to keep chickens on their property. He also favors green space outside the city rather than downtown, which would allow for space for housing. He demonstrates the kind of practical thinking that City Council needs. On the downside, he seems more eager to defeat incumbent City Council member Leigh Greden than to get to work serving residents.
Greden has also enjoyed the support of the Daily in previous elections. He has an impressive record of getting things done since being elected as a Ward 3 representative in 2003. One recent example is his push for necessary improvements to the way businesses in the city recycle their trash. But he also supports height caps that hinder new development. And while he’s been involved in city collaboration efforts with the Michigan Student Assembly, he doesn’t seem enthusiastic to encourage students to get involved in city government.
While Greden has served the city well, Kunselman is the kind of independent thinker that City Council needs. In Ward 3, The Daily endorses STEPHEN KUNSELMAN.
In Ward 5, incumbent Mike Anglin is challenged by Scott Rosencrans. Anglin has a long history of community involvement stretching from Washington D.C. to New York to Ann Arbor. On one hand, he voices sympathy for students’ inability to participate in the city. But his push for extensive green space in the city doesn’t seem realistic given students’ ever-growing need for more centrally located housing. His time on City Council has produced similarly mixed results, with principled stances on issues like mass transit but also plenty of votes for the status quo.
Rosencrans certainly cares about the city, having served on nine committees in the past four years. And his support for a densely populated downtown featuring affordable housing is encouraging. But he doesn’t seem as knowledgeable about the needs of the city as Anglin. It also seems likely that he would have difficulty implementing his ideas given his relative inexperience.
Though Anglin’s vision for the city might not be completely viable, voters should trust in his experience working with in communities and his attractive and progressive idealism. In Ward 5, The Daily endorses MIKE ANGLIN.