In the only contested election for a seat on the Ann Arbor City Council, Democratic candidate Chuck Warpehoski defeated Republican candidate Stuart Berry for a seat in the city’s fifth ward.
With 73 percent of precincts reporting as of 2 a.m. Wednesday, Warpehoski held a 83 percent lead over Berry. Warpehoski will replace current Councilmember Carsten Hohnke, who did not seek re-election, and will now join Sumi Kailasapathy (D–Ward 1) and Sally Hart Petersen (D–Ward 2), who both ran in unopposed contests, as the three new councilmembers on the 10-person council.
Incumbents Margie Teall (D–Ward 4) and Christopher Taylor (D–Ward 3) were also re-elected in uncontested elections.
At a Democratic watch party at Weber Inn in Ann Arbor, Warpehoski said he was confident coming into the election, particularly as Ward 5 is a heavily Democratic-leaning district. He noted he spent most of election season campaigning for his Democratic counterparts instead of himself.
Once in office, Warpehoski said his primary goal as a councilmember is to not be tied to any single piece of policy, but rather serve as a responsive representative committed to facilitating dialogue between members of local government and Ann Arbor residents.
“If I’m not listening to people, people should be disappointed, that’s number one,” he said. “People deserve responsive government.”
Maintaining security and safety, infrastructure and parks are some of the “nuts and bolts” issues that Warpehoski said he expects to face in his term. He added that like Hieftje, he will strive to improve public transportation in Ann Arbor.
“I ran on transit,” he said. “I’m a big transit supporter.”
Warpehoski said though many citizens are in support of increasing transit, funding and implementation of the transportation programs can be a divisive issue among residents and government officials.
“I haven’t heard anybody say they’re anti-transit, only anti-specific programs,” Warpehoski said. “I’m going to do everything I can for transit.”
The first step, he said, is determining a consensus among local governments, Ann Arbor government officials and residents on the issue.
While he said he is eager to start his position on the council, Warpehoski said the hard work isn’t over yet.
“When I entered this race, I didn’t think I knew how hard it was going to be to campaign and get elected. Now that I’m elected I recognize I still have a lot to learn to be effective as a member,” he said.