Although student representation on the Ann Arbor City Council
currently does not exist, University students Rick Lax, Daniel
Sheill and Robert Haug and alum Scott Trudeau hope to add their
names to the council roster for the November elections.

“The city of Ann Arbor is roughly one-third made up of students,
but there are no seats on the council being occupied by students,”
said Lax, a Daily arts writer on leave for the campaign. “It is
very difficult for a student to get elected because the city is cut
into five pie-shaped voting wards, and there are no student
majorities in any of these wards.”

The candidates’ motivations for entering the election race
ranged from dissatisfaction with city policies to personal
opposition to incumbent Marcia Higgins (R-Ward 4) running
uncontested.

Lax said he feels city government has been irresponsible the
past few years, especially towards the students of the
University.

“I want to make sure the city doesn’t pass the Washtenaw Hill
Historic Area Expansion,” Lax said. “This would extend (the
historic area), and if it passes, would raise the cost of housing
possibly dramatically for people living in this area.”

Citing his entry into the City Council election as part of the
democratic political process, Trudeau said “I wanted to inject some
debate into the race, so the incumbent (Higgins) didn’t just walk
right in.”

In addition, Trudeau said he feels that as a University alum
still living in Ann Arbor, he is in a unique position to see the
views of students and non-students alike.

While Lax has chosen to run as an Independent in Ward 1, and
Sheill is running on the Libertarian ticket in Ward 4, the Green
Party is sponsoring candidates Trudeau and Haug in Wards 4 and 1,
respectively.

Currently, the five-ward Council has two Republican members and
eight Democratic members serving on it.  In choosing to run on
the Libertarian ticket, Sheill, an LSA Senior, acknowledged that he
had reservations with Republicans and did not sympathize with
Democrats.

“Although I am aware that the libertarians don’t really have a
chance to be elected to the Presidency, I’ve always supported the
positions and policies of the party, and I’d like to support [them]
at the local level.”

But, Sheill is no stranger to political activism. Currently a
political science major, he is also a member of Students for a
Sensible Drug Policy and helped to organize Hash Bash 2002, and
says that he supports the de-criminalization of marijuana.

But, gaining a council seat against Ward 4 councilwoman Higgins
will not be easy for Trudeau or Sheill. The Republican has served
on the council for two two-year terms and almost ran unopposed had
Sheill and Trudeau not entered the race.

Haug, a Rackham student who has been involved in politics with
the Green Party since he arrived in Ann Arbor four years ago, feels
the City Council can benefit from his concern with issues that
major parties steer clear from.

“In comparison to Bob Johnson, I’m a firm believer of bringing
fresh, new blood into the political system whenever possible,” said
Haug.

To strengthen their campaigns, Trudeau and Haug are pooling
their resources within the Green party and working together for the
November 4 election, he added.

“I don’t think there is anything that [I bring] that another
couldn’t,” Higgins said. “But what I have brought is a level of
consensus and common sense on how to approach things.”

Current councilwoman Wendy Ann Woods (D -Ward 5) said she feels
anyone who is committed to Ann Arbor could make a good City Council
candidate.

“[Serving as a council member] is a very big time commitment,
but I see no reason why any student who had time to debate the
issues could not run,” she added.

Like Sheill and Trudeau, both Haug and Lax will have to face-off
against the incumbent Robert Johnson (D. – Ward 1).

According to the US Census, there were 114,024 residents of Ann
Arbor in 2000. The University of Michigan lists the current student
population at 38,000, making them 33 percent of Ann Arbor.

“I want to make sure the city doesn’t pass the Washtenaw Hill
Historic Area Expansion.”

— Rick Lax, Independent

“I wanted to inject some debate into the race, so the incumbent
(Marcia Higgins) didn’t just walk right in.”

— Scott Trudeau, Green Party

“I’m a firm believer of bringing fresh, new blood into the
political system whenever possible.”

— Robert Haug, Green Party

“I’ve always supported the positions and policies of the
(Libertarian) Party, and I’d like to support (them) at the local
level.”

— Daniel Sheill, Libertarian

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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