By Amina Farha
Daily Staff Reporter
In Tuesday’s primary election, three Democrats are vying for the Ann Arbor City Council’s open seat for Ward 1, the ward that contains considerable parts of campus and student neighborhoods.
Richard Wickboldt, Sabra Briere and John Roberts are pursuing the position, currently held by incumbent Robert Johnson (D-Ward 1), who has decided not to seek reelection.
Wickboldt, manager of the University’s Central Power Plant and a five-year resident of Ann Arbor, said he decided to run for City Council at the suggestion of many of his friends and neighbors, who urged him to run because of his interest in politics.
He said there are two roles a City Council member can play – either act as a steward for the citizens and their tax dollars, or as a representative of special voter interest groups.
Wickboldt said he strongly believes in the former.
“I’m not bringing in my own agenda,” he said. “I just want to do some public service.”
Although Wickboldt is new to the political arena, he said he believes his experience managing the power plant would provide him with the skills to manage the city’s large budget and that his experience with project management and environmental regulation would be the strengths that separate him from his opponents.
“They don’t have in-depth experience from all aspects as required by city manager,” he said.
Briere said she moved to Ann Arbor 34 years ago so she and her son could live in an atmosphere rich in diversity and culture, and soon became involved in the city’s political sector.
Briere is a volunteer with the Huron River Watershed Council and Avalon Housing, a housing system for low-income people, and she serves as chair for the American Civil Liberties Union’s Washtenaw County chapter.
Briere said she is suited for the job of City Council member because, out of the three candidates, she has spent the longest time as a politically active adult in Ann Arbor.
“I’ve been paying attention for a long time,” she said.
Briere said she believes Ann Arbor needs new ways to bring economic development and jobs to the city.
“It has to be creative,” she said. “We can’t rely on manufacturing.”
Briere said the city should focus on attracting smaller-scale employers instead of large corporations.
“No one knows if we’ll ever find big employers again,” she said.
Unlike his competition, Roberts is not a newcomer to City Council. A lifetime resident of the city, Roberts was appointed to the City Council from Ward 1 in September 2005 and served until November 2006. He was defeated by Ron Suarez (D-Ward 1) in last year’s primary.
“I think that what separates me from my opponents is that I will approach every topic from a very pragmatic position,” Roberts said.
Roberts said he believes the city has been making the right changes to stay strong in a difficult economic time.
He said one of the ways to improve the economy would be more development.
Growing up in Ann Arbor showed Roberts that the city could change and “still have the character that makes it Ann Arbor.”
“I don’t think that Ann Arbor has to remain what it is today,” he said.
Roberts said one project he would take on while in office is developing more affordable housing options.
By Jake Holmes
Daily Staff Reporter
As the Ann Arbor City Council primary election approaches, voters in Ward 3 face a choice between a young lawyer who has served on the council since 2003 or a first-time candidate whose ideas for the area led her to make a last minute entry into the election.
Leigh Greden (D-Ward 3) has lived in Ann Arbor for most of his life, and attended the city’s public and private schools as a child. He has served on City Council since 2003 and said his actions helped the city save $100,000 per year in administrative costs.
Hoping to oust Greden is Luanne Bullington, an Ann Arbor resident for the past 15 years who thinks her advocacy experience will be beneficial to the city. Bullington, a newcomer to city politics, decided to run just a week before the application deadline.
Bullington was once a public school teacher. She also served on the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority’s executive board and worked with the Center for Independent Living. As part of an extensive advocacy career, Bullington said she worked to break down voting barriers that made it more difficult for young voters to cast ballots.
Greden has a long-time connection with Ann Arbor – his parents still live in the Ward 3 – and he thinks that makes him better suited to serving the town.
“I’ve seen (Ann Arbor) as a child, as a young adult, and now as a home owner and taxpayer,” he said.
At 33 years old, Greden has a law degree from Case Western Reserve University and works for Miller Canfield law firm on Main Street.
Over the past few years, Greden said he has worked actively to stay connected to Ann Arbor’s youth. Within City Council, Greden works with the Cool Cities and Student Relations committees and has worked with the Michigan Student Assembly and University administrators. Several years ago, he helped the city land a grant that funded the Michigan Theater, and recently pushed the leasing ordinance that delays lease signing dates.
Greden said being part of those committees is important to him.
“It gives me an opportunity to work one-on-one with students and with the University administration,” he said.
Bullington said she doesn’t yet have a plan on how she’ll keep in touch with students. But she believes it’s important to take student views into account when making decisions in Ann Arbor.
“I would really like to have them available to me,” she said.
Her concern for student interests, Bullington said, can be seen in her opposition to the recent move to put more police officers in city parks. She said police efforts should be focused on neighborhoods, especially those where students live.
Because Ann Arbor wants to encourage students and young people to live downtown, Bullington hopes to establish a park downtown where families can walk dogs, jog or enjoy greenery.
“I want to keep downtown Ann Arbor livable,” Bullington said.
Bullington has high hopes for the election. She is distributing signs and holding informal get-togethers in Ward 3 neighborhoods to get her message out.
“I am sure I’m going to win,” Bullington said.
On the other hand, Greden said his rooted understanding of the issues facing the city and love of public service will help him continue as a City Council member.
“I want to serve the third ward and help steer the city,” he said.
By Emily Angell
Daily News Editor
In Ann Arbor’s Ward 5 primary race, two candidates are vying for a position on Ann Arbor City Council. Incumbent Wendy Woods is campaigning for the fourth time since first being approved to the council in 2001, but faces an opponent for the first time in this election ? newcomer Mike Anglin.
Woods is the associate director of the University’s Michigan Community Scholars Program and was previously an LSA academic advisor. She said she first got involved in politics as a student in the School of Natural Resources, where students are encouraged to become involved in community service.
Anglin moved to Ann Arbor in 1992 and is on the executive board of the local chapters for the Sierra Club and Kiwanis International.
“I have been very involved in the town since the beginning,” he said. “Whenever I have to leave, I always regret it because there is always something cool going on.”
Nowadays, Anglin spends most of his time in Ward 5 knocking on doors and promoting his candidacy for City Council.
Anglin estimates that he talks to 10-12 people per day about his candidacy, a total of 1,100 people so far.
“We’ve built the campaign from what we’re hearing citizens say around town,” he said.
Woods said she hopes that, as an incumbent, her experience will be an attractive quality this election.
She initially joined City Council in 2001 after former Council member Chris Kolb left to become a state representative and nominated Woods to fill his spot.
Although Woods ran unopposed in the last three elections, she said she always campaigned as though she had an opponent to encourage people to vote.
“Probably the most challenging part of having an opponent this time is that I need to raise more funds,” she said.
Woods chaired the Solid Waste Commission and served on the Environmental Commission, the Planning Commission, the Audit Committee and the Downtown Marketing Task Force.
She also pushed Ann Arbor citizens to understand the cost on their city of the war in Iraq. She recently drafted a resolution sent to Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Carl Levin (D-Mich.) to support their efforts against the war on the state level.
“People don’t realize funds are being diverted to the war,” she said.
Woods said she first met opponent Mike Anglin last year.
“We are both respectful of each other’s position because we are in the same party,” she said. “But I don’t think he always understands the complexity of some issues the City Council has to deal with.”
Of Woods, Anglin said he is disappointed that she generally agrees with the majority of the Council.
“She’s good at attending meetings but we need more opinions,” he said.
Anglin believes that Ann Arbor is a “cultural Mecca for environmental change.” Anglin is concerned about the relationship between landlord and tenant, especially when students are involved.
“We need a different emphasis,” he said. “We need environmental enhancement and more enforcement of housing codes to satisfy both landlords and tenants.”
He is also concerned with the transparency of City Council.
“I would like to see a roll-call vote on every item,” he said. “We need a participatory voice and a democracy and that’s why I’m running.”
Anglin said he has the support of several Ann Arbor Republicans, who are not represented on the Council.
“A number of Republicans support me,” he said. “I don’t think they should feel locked out of the election because we need more dialogue.”
Both candidates emphasize improving housing in student-populated areas as part of their campaign.
Woods said she is concerned about making Ann Arbor more affordable, closing loopholes in the lease-signing ordinance that delays the deadline apartment tenants have to renew their leases, increasing lighting on residential streets and further developing Ann Arbor.