In tomorrow’s contested primary elections, citizens will choose candidates to run for both Ann Arbor mayor and 53rd district state representative.
In the mayoral race, incumbent John Hieftje is running against Wendy Woods, who has been the Fifth Ward’s council representative since 2001.
Because the city is primarily democratic, tomorrow’s results will likely determine the winners in November.
The competition for 53rd district – which encompasses the city of Ann Arbor and portions of Ann Arbor and Scio townships – state representative is between current councilman Leigh Greden (D-Ward 3) and Rebekah Warren, who has worked in Lansing for 13 years.
The 53rd district’s current representative, Chris Kolb, cannot run again due to term-limit restrictions.
Woods, who is also associate director of the University’s Michigan Community Scholars program, said her five years of experience on the council allows her to be closer to the community and University students than Hieftje, who served one year on council before being elected mayor in 2000.
“Regardless of who is elected as mayor, there are many things the city of Ann Arbor will keep the same because the citizens are in favor of them,” Woods said.
Hieftje has initiated many environment-friendly proposals, such as the Greenbelt Plan to preserve property from development and the mayor’s Green Energy Challenge, which aims to reduce the city’s renewable energy by 30 percent and greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent by 2010.
Hieftje has also been a strong supporter of mass transit as mayor. If re-elected, Hieftje said he hopes to bring a rail system through Ann Arbor to Detroit.
“Four years ago, I reformed the way we do alternative transportation by donating 5 percent of money for roads to clean public streets and get rid of garbage on campus,” Hieftje said.
As a part of the energy commission, Woods has also been active in pushing through the Green Energy Challenge. Woods has supported most of Hieftje’s initiatives in council.
In addition to continuing with the city’s current plans, Woods said if elected she plans to eliminate groundwater contamination that is starting on the city’s west side and moving toward the Huron River.
Although both candidates for state representative are new to the race, they each have experience with government positions they believe will help them in Lansing.
Warren served as a legislative assistant to State Rep. Mary Schroer (D-Ann Arbor) as well as Rep. Hubert Price (D-Pontiac). In addition, Warren has been the executive director of Pro-Choice Michigan since 1999.
Greden has served as a city councilman representing Ward 3 since 2003 and said he can bring Ann Arbor’s opinions to the state legislature.
“I have lived in Ann Arbor my whole life and have experience as an elected official here,” he said.
Though she has never served in elected office, Warren said she is familiar with many current representatives and has personal connections that can help her be an active member of congress.
“I want to look at the future and make the state a good place to live in five to 10 years from now,” Warren said.
The candidates agree on many issues, including education.
“I want to provide new funding for higher education, which would help the University of Michigan,” Greden said.
Warren agrees that the state needs to help students and their parents pay for school.
“Over the past 20 years, there was a complete reversal of the amount of money the state and students pay for public education,” she said.
Greden wants to focus on environmental issues, particularly the state’s waste managment.
He said he wants to increase tipping fees – the cost to dump trash in the state – to encourage recycling and to reduce the amount of trash imported from Canada.
The candidates urge citizens to look at their websites and campaign platforms before voting in the primary elections.
“I want to encourage everyone to come out and vote tomorrow,” Woods said.