The Washtenaw County Election Committee considered four out of six petitions filed for the recall of Ann Arbor City Councilmember Stephen Kunselmen (D–Ward 3) both factual and clear, allowing those advocating for his recall to move forward with the process.
At a review hearing Monday, each of the six petitions were presented by different members of the community, including members associated with MISSION A2, a nonprofit organization that advocates for homeless citizens.
Kunselman has been targeted recently by multiple efforts to remove him from City Council following comments last year in which he called for the eviction of a homeless tent community off Burton Road.
Kunselman said his critics have taken his comments have been taken out of context.
“If you’ll notice, they have cut and pasted some of these sentences, but they have left out sentences, they have left out words such as ‘hypothermia’ and ‘death,’” he said. “They are using words such as ‘the homeless will be endangered if they come inside’ doesn’t make sense. I urge you to deny all of these petitions, they just make no sense; they are not clear, they are not factual.”
Kunselman said he did not use the word “evict” in relation to members of the homeless community, and he hoped to clarify his position regarding homelessness in Ann Arbor and the actions that should be taken at the hearing. He said he is concerned with the situation of the city’s homeless, but wanted to see more people moved into the shelter system.
“No one in the city of Ann Arbor, in the county of Washtenaw, should be left out in the cold or should be encouraged to live in the cold, to be given a tent and a sleeping bag and told to rough it and try to survive in the subzero, harsh Michigan winter,” he said.
The election committee is not charged with determining whether Kunselman should face a recall election, but rather whether the recall petitions are grounded in reality and fact. The committee determined the language of four of these petitions met those standards.
Citizens pushing for Kunselman’s recall will now have to collect signatures. If they gather enough signatures, Kunselman will have to fight for his seat in a special election in May.
Kunselman is already up for reelection this year and plans to run in the August Democratic primary and the November general election.