Every year, one seat for each of the wards in Ann Arbor goes up for election. Two officials from each of Ann Arbor’s five wards serve on the City Council. With the affirmative vote of six or more members, the body can initiate resolutions or ordinances for the city. During the past term, Democrats have enjoyed a 7-3 majority over Republicans, in addition to the vote of the mayor.
Two Democrats are running unopposed, Kim Groome in the 1st Ward and 5th Ward incumbent Chris Easthope
Democrat Joan Lowenstein, a First Amendment lawyer, faces Republican businessman Jeff Hauptman.
Lowenstein is running for a seat on council after having lost her position in the previous election last year. To provide more affordable housing, Lowenstein said she wants to promote more dense construction downtown and the transformation of William Street’s soon-to-be vacant YMCA into housing.
“It’s important to have a lot of different kinds of people in Ann Arbor from different income levels,” she said.
Hauptman said the council has made erroneous fiscal decisions in the past years. He cited the implementation of an early retirement plan, for which the city delved into parking funds to finance the payout of its employees.
“I believe I have the fiscal experience, affordable housing experience and understanding of neighborhood needs that Lowenstein does not have,” he said.
Democrat Jean Carlberg, who has served on the council for eight years, is running against Republican Jeff DeBoer, who owns a product design company.
DeBoer said the city’s mismanagement of funds compelled him to run. “At the same time we’re building parks and buildings, we’re laying off cops,” he said.
Carlberg, a retired teacher and mayor pro-tem, said she wants to continue improving the city’s environment, infrastructure and affordable housing. She emphasized the need to remove phosphorous from the Huron River by using non-phosphorous fertilizer or redesigning the storm sewers.
“I’m very familiar with my ward, having worked throughout it,” she said.
Republican Kenneth Timmer faces Democrat Margie Teall. Both are seeking a council seat for the first time.
As an engineering manager for Ford Motor Co, Timmer has similar concerns to Hauptman that the council has been financially irresponsible, expressing his support for programs not dependent on tax dollars.
“I tend to gravitate toward programs that let people be involved,” he said, adding that civil services funded with tax dollars do not allow participation with the community on a personal level.
Timmer’s opponent Teall, a photographer, said she would like to continue the council’s current progress in her term. “A lot of pro-active activities have been initiated in the past two years,” she said.