Mayor Christopher Taylor (D) has been in office for two months — and a great deal has happened.
Under Taylor’s purview, the city has adopted a resolution calling for Ann Arbor police officers to wear body cameras, inaugurated a new fire chief and approved the construction of a new parking structure.
And the mayor has met with University President Mark Schlissel twice since coming to office — one of these meetings was during Taylor’s first day on the job.
Taylor, a University alum, has previously stressed the importance of a strong relationship between the city and the University.
He said he expects to meet with Schlissel periodically and looks forward to continued communication with the University, which he added indicates a “mutual commitment” to the Ann Arbor community.
“We are long term players,” Taylor said in an interview with The Michigan Daily. “It is in the University’s best interest to have a city that works (and) have a successful Ann Arbor, and it is in Ann Arbor’s interest to have the University continue to be a global leader in higher education.”
Taylor has played a role in facilitating several initiatives in his first two months as mayor, such as beginning snow removal earlier than usual this year to preempt weather-related traffic issues.
He also noted that City Council is trying to make local housing more affordable and is using a Homeless Needs Assessment report to direct these efforts. The initiative comes after the council approved in December the expansion of services for the homeless who frequent the Ann Arbor District Library.
During his campaign, Taylor said one of his priorities was to expand public transportation such as the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority. He said the city is currently examining potential sites for a new train station, which could include the renovation of a pre-existing Amtrak station at Depot Street.
However, the project would likely involve the purchase of adjacent property from DTE Energy. The city is waiting on environmental impact reports for other potential sites before moving forward.
Another initiative in the works is fixing Ann Arbor’s roads. In September, Washtenaw County voters approved a 0.5-mill tax to provide for improvements to existing roads and infrastructure. Taylor said he expects the next year to include several construction projects to fix roads in the area. He added that the millage will yield repairs on 6.4 miles of roads.
So far, Taylor said his largest challenge has been dealing with the repercussions of a November 2014 police shooting, in which a 40-year-old woman was fatally shot by an Ann Arbor police officer.
“The shooting obviously took place in the context of an important and justifiable national conversation and so dealing with that in the city has been probably my most challenging area,” he said.
Taylor noted that the Michigan State Police have been conducting an investigation in the case. Ultimately, findings from the investigation will be given to the Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office, who will then decide whether or not to indict the officer in question.
“It’s very important for us to reflect from what happened once we have the full and final facts and to make sure we can do everything we can to protect public safety,” he said. “Our officers … I think do a great job at that. They are a professional and dedicated police department.”
In response to the pending case, and other similar incidents nationwide, City Council passed a resolution in December to implement the use of body and in-car cameras for the Ann Arbor police officers.
Taylor said outfitting officers with body cameras had been in the works for months prior to the shooting.
He also said he is now focused on preparing Ann Arbor’s upcoming budget proposal, set for release in April, which will play a significant role in shaping the city’s agenda.