Although only one of the seats for Ann Arbor’s City
Council is up for grabs this election, a diverse array of issues
are being brought into the race, ranging from the
University’s role in the community to the number of high-rise
buildings in the city to the legalization of medical marijuana.

During the Nov. 2 election, Democratic incumbent Jean Carlberg
will be challenged by Green Party candidate Marc Reichardt and
Libertarian candidate Rich Burkett for her seat representing the
3rd ward, which is located between Washtenaw Avenue and Packard
Street and includes some student housing south of campus.

Carlberg has served on the council for five terms totaling 10
years. Reichardt and Burkett have never held a government office,
though Reichardt has been chair of the Green Party of Michigan
since 2001 and Burkett has run for U.S. Congress four times —
-three times as a Republican and once as a Democrat.

There are several issues central to the campaigns of all three
candidates, such as the environment, creating affordable housing in
Ann Arbor and finding ways to get the University to contribute more
to the community. There are also plenty of concerns unique to each
candidate.

Burkett, for example, is the primary author of Proposal C, and
the major issue of his campaign platform is to get the proposal to
legalize the use of medical marijuana in Ann Arbor passed.

Reichardt said he is concerned with the disparities among
economic classes and ethnic groups in Ann Arbor. “In Ann
Arbor we’ve ended up with people from different ethnic
backgrounds being pushed into the fringes of the city. I think
there is more that can be done to make them feel like an equal part
of our community,” he said.

With regard to environmental issues, Carlberg said she has
always been involved in preserving Ann Arbor’s natural
features. She was one of the proponents of the Greenbelt, the
city’s initiative to preserve parks and other green space
while combating urban sprawl.

The City Council “has major decisions to make about
development and growth in Ann Arbor, and I’m very concerned
that we do this in a way that protects our existing neighborhoods,
our existing natural features and environment systems and still
allows us to have sustainable growth in housing and
businesses,” Carlberg said.

Reichardt has also expressed concern regarding urban growth and
development in Ann Arbor. He said the expansion of “big
box” stores such as Wal-Mart have had a negative impact on
the ecology of the Ann Arbor area.

Though Burkett said he is interested in many aspects of Ann
Arbor’s environment, his main concern is with the landfill
located in the 3rd ward.

“The city landfill is among the largest pollution problems
in Ann Arbor, and I want to make sure that it’s being taken
care of as it should be,” Burkett said.

Candidates Carlberg and Reichardt see affordable housing in Ann
Arbor as one of the biggest problems facing the city, and both have
proposed several different solutions for creating more affordable
housing.

Carlberg, who has been a part of many planning efforts for the
development of the downtown area, suggests the costs of housing
should be tempered by providing economic incentives for builders
who are willing to build affordable housing in Ann Arbor.

Reichardt also proposes providing incentives for builders, but
said the focus should fall more on building taller buildings in
downtown Ann Arbor that can be used by businesses and
residents.

“We need to develop mixed-use multi-purpose buildings that
have lower levels for commercial use, levels for offices and then
upper levels for residential use. This way we have greater
population density in the downtown area, and we don’t have to
keep sprawling out further into the city,” Reichardt
said.

Finding ways to get the University to contribute more to the Ann
Arbor community, both financially and by offering more services, is
a major concern for Reichardt, and Carlberg also said this is an
important issue.

“Most of the other Big Ten schools contribute
substantially to their communities,” Reichardt said.

Reichardt said the University has bought a single fire truck for
the Ann Arbor Fire Department — their only contribution to
the department in the last decade aside from allowing them to use
the fire station on North Campus rent-free.

He added that the University lags behind its peer institutions
in terms of how much it contributes to its community.

While Carlberg acknowledged that getting the University to help
the community is an issue, she pointed out that the council has
made important steps to try and improve collaboration between the
University and city.

“It’s one of the things we discuss every year with
the University. We are speaking with them constantly about creating
new parking so their staff and faculty aren’t parking in our
neighborhoods. We are working with specific departments on
different projects in the city, and some of that has been very
successful.”

Despite the candidates’ calls for more contributions from
the University to the Ann Arbor community, Jim Kosteva, director of
community relations for the University, strongly disagreed with the
assertions that the University has not done its part to help the
community.

“I clearly think that most leadership in the community
would recognize the University as a valuable partner and
contributor to the community’s well-being. In many
discussions I have with peer institutions around the country, they
are frequently coming to us and are amazed at what we do for the
community,” Kosteva said.

He added that the University’s support for the community
ranges from contributions for street and road repair projects next
to campus to collaborations between academic departments and city
planning commissions. For example, students in the A. Alfred
Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning recently
collaborated with the city’s Downtown Residential Task Force
in an effort to analyze how and where mixed-use buildings can be
raised in downtown.

Elections for the Ann Arbor City Council will take place on Nov.
2. Residents of the 3rd ward will vote at East Quad Residence
Hall.

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