A University undergraduate continued his campaign for Ann Arbor City Council Sunday, discussing his reasons for running and what he plans to do if elected.

Eugene Kang, a 21-year-old LSA senior, is a Democrat running for the city’s 2nd Ward seat against former Republican, Stephen Rapundalo.

Kang decided to run at the end of the winter term, but he had considered running since last fall. The chance to give back to the community he grew up in compelled Kang to run, he said.

Kang said that he recognized that his inexperience may concern some, but he stressed that his energy and dedication to the city were more important than his age.

Kang said that he hopes his campaign will motivate University students to get more involved in Ann Arbor politics. He also said that he wants to show permanent residents that students are not just four-year burdens on the city and its resources.

“We do a lot for the city and residents don’t usually see that,” Kang said. “(We want) to try to show them that we’re not trying to destroy the city. (The students) are not like little Satans running around Ann Arbor.”

Kang said that permanent city residents often think college students are only staying in Ann Arbor for a short time and think their concerns are not significant.

“They don’t realize that students interests aren’t going to change every four years — student faces may, but what they want won’t,” he said.

Kang said he has two other major concerns for the city: the five-year running budget deficit and affordable housing. Kang said that the budget problems could be fixed potentially by either cutting city services or implementing an income tax.

In a subsequent interview, Kang made it clear that he strongly opposes both options.

“I think it is imperative for the city to find a long-term solution so that residents of the city do not have to continue to bear the burden,” Kang said.

He added: “We have these high taxes, but we have a yearly budget deficit.”

Kang said he wants to find ways to provide affordable housing at all levels and for all different incomes.

Kang said the city’s housing problems are due in part to cutting corners in infrastructure costs and now the city has to pay the price for it every year.

Kang added that the problem is only going to get worse with time, unless action is taken.

“The only people who can live Ann Arbor are the extremely wealthy. Those in the middle who don’t make $150,000 per year won’t be able to live here,” he said.

Kang said that current residential areas in Ann Arbor that people enjoy would not exist if introduced to the city today.

“A lot of the cooler places built down Main Street could not be built now because of city zoning,” Kang said.

Kang said he is also concerned about student participation in city politics.

Alex Donn, one of Kang’s campaign advisers and a third-year Law School student, said

 

that the political limitations placed on students have been a concern of his for quite some time.

“Local voting regulations impinge on the rights for students to vote in Ann Arbor,” Donn said. “The same people who say students should pay attention are putting voting regulations on them.”

“The primary takes place when all the students are away.” “It’s not like they all decided to take a three-day vacation and missed the primary. Students are here 75 percent of the year,” Donn said.

Kang said that the five wards prevent students from collectively raising their concerns to the city and that the wards that divide up Ann Arbor were created to better represent diversity.

“Unfortunately, that hasn’t been achieved,” Kang said.

Kang said that the community members he has met with have received his campaign warmly.

“I’ve been doing a lot of door-to-door campaigning. People have been enthusiastic about a young person who lives here running for City Council,” Kang said.

Kang said he thinks people want a change on the council. “We need a new way of thinking,” Kang said.

LSA senior Nathaniel Damrien said that he supports a student on the council.

“I have always got the impression that students are treated more like children than residents of Ann Arbor,” Damrien said. He added that having a student on the City Council would benefit the students.

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