tl;dr vote for Ron Ginyard in Ward 1, Kurt Westphal in Ward 2, Julie Grand in Ward 3, Graydon Krapohl in Ward 4, and Chuck Warpehoski in Ward 5.
With the exception of Ginyard in Ward 1 this is a straight council-party ticket that returns the four incumbents to office. (Ginyard is a rotating question mark.) I recommend this for the same reason that I recommend Christopher Taylor's re-election: the future of the city is either a lot of growth or becoming San Francisco. And, really, you don't need to read this one unless you need to know exactly what variety of clownshoes is up against the incumbents in each particular ward.
More generally, the anti party is deeply unserious about the nitty-gritty of running a local government. They vote against by-right developments. Sumi Kalispathy on the water rates:
Kailasapathy, D-1st Ward, suggested students who live in luxury apartments might be incentivized to leave their faucets running if they know they're paying a lower water rate.
This unseriousness is reflected in their candidates. Bannister is already infamous for her many addled statements—my favorite:
Ann Arbor Sarah Palin thinks that people buying $500k+ new condos are also stealing Creedence 8-tracks out of people's cars https://t.co/auUOOcHVaM
— mgoblog (@mgoblog) May 22, 2018
And hoo boy they unearthed some dingers this time.
Ward by ward stuff is after the jump but with the exception of Ward 1, which features a ghost versus a nutcase, things get very repetitive as I say "this is an incumbent council party person who mostly votes for development" and "uh... bless your heart." Be warned. I did try to keep this as brief as possible.
[After THE JUMP: ward by ward.]
This is an open seat contested by a cipher with no concrete goals and the worst person in Ann Arbor. Ron Ginyard is the cipher. He's a political neophyte who hasn't bothered to vote since moving back to town four years ago and has no concrete ideas on his website. Judging from his appearance at a candidate forum he'd probably be a legitimate swing vote affiliated with neither side but leaning council party.
His opponent is Jeff Hayner, an ICE fan (row 561), "SJW"-deployer (row 4987 and 5 others), MLive ban-sufferer (row 284) and coffee-dad-level hashtagger…
Another tragic #pedestrian death in #AnnArbor, how many deaths/injuries since #a2council majority adopted #VisionZero #CompleteStreets? Who will answer for this? Former Mayor vetoed sensible changes to ordinance, blood on his hands. Who started #WarOnCars? Who loses?
— JLH (@JeffreyHayner) April 14, 2018
…who shows up to city council meetings to yell at people. His politics is incoherent furious nonsense. This was made obvious by his twitter feed, which had so many bombshells in it that Hayner tried to delete everything in it and finally gave up, taking it private. This was too late.
Hayner is not just a NIMBY...
Jeffrey Hayner opposes the lower town development. "We want our neighborhood back — it was stolen and replaced by a weed-filled lot." #A2Council pic.twitter.com/xIRryBM3Uw
— Peter Honeyman (@a2_peter) November 10, 2017
...he is a BANANA.
Jeff Hayner also in the house. He hates this proposed 13-story “pre-fab student hive.” #A2Council pic.twitter.com/4WgdCNPNUA
— Peter Honeyman (@a2_peter) August 15, 2016
His one redeeming quality is that he's never tried to cloak his opposition to building housing by saying that he would like some other financially infeasible thing on a surface parking lot. Hayner is very clear that he cares about nothing other than himself and various Hayner-alikes who show up to protest a dense housing development within walking distance of the hospital because it "only" has 0.9 parking spots per apartment and he might be slightly inconvenienced when he tries to park on the city's street. As a bonus, he has also been captured by Dahlmann.
It's hard to imagine an Ann Arbor resident who is more ill-suited to city council.
One other candidate of note is Ryan Hughes, who is running as an DSA-affiliated independent. He is likely doomed by the nonsense that is partisan local elections since the number of straight ticket Dem voters in Ann Arbor will overwhelm people paying attention to local races—especially this November—but he both has stated political positions and cares about people; the other two candidates check only one box.
Kurt Westphal is a council party member on the correct side of all those 7-4 votes. He says things that indicate he grasps the challenge facing the city and wants to address it...
In a growing job market, if you don't/can't build new construction for the missing middle, AND don't allow market rate construction, you're left with the wealthy displacing those currently occupying middle-income housing, or demo/rebuilding their structures into something they feel suitable. What is frustrating is the lack of focus on policy prescriptions, and heavy dose of "just stop until we figure this all out" (which no desirable city has).
...and I appreciate that he can describe the effect of AA's current policies lucidly. He is a remarkably calm person on social media. He also supports ranked choice voting, which yes please.
Kathy Griswold is his opponent. Griswold has spent a bizarre amount of time over the past few years leading the opposition to various ballot initiatives. She's opposed four separate millages and Ann Arbor's move to eliminate single-digit-turnout off-year elections. Given that these efforts appear to be funded primarily by existing landlords like the guy who owns McKinley and the city's good friend Dennis Dahlmann, my assumption is she is engaged by these people to front for them when a tax that would cut into their bottom line makes the ballot. (Eliminating off year elections threatens Jane Lumm, an independent and anti.) Naturally, she would represent their interests if elected to council.
This goes for Eaton as well, who received donations from the McKinley guy and only did not get them from Dahlmann this time around because the Y-Lot quid pro quo became controversial. The "greedy developers" meme is extremely frustrating because guys who have developed, past-tense, who are just trying to keep rents sky-high get a pass from people who hate change.
Julie Grand, council party, 7-4, etc. obviously frustrated by some of the dim bulbs on the other side of the aisle and makes that publicly known. This is a valuable service in these dire times when expertise, intelligence, and the ability to spell your name correctly in two tries are apparently no longer requirements for public office. I treasure her open disdain for the goofballs who don't do the reading.
In addition, Grand understands how to work the levers of government. She and a couple of housing commission members were able to scrape together several different sources of funding to rebuild some of Ann Arbor's existing housing stock.
Alice Liberson, Grand's opponent, then attacked Grand's housing bonafides in a post on WEMU's website:
At the recent League of Women Voters debate, my opponent said if the sale of the library lot to Core Spaces goes through, we will have 5 million dollars for affordable housing, and could create 200 to 500 units of affordable housing. Really? That’s $10,000 to $25,000 per unit. If this is true, why are they willing to pay Core Spaces 1.5 million dollars for nine units of housing, or $162,000 per unit. Someone needs to check their math.
Okay. Of the $18.3 million being spent on the rebuild, approximately 15 comes from the federal government. Another 900k comes from the county. Ann Arbor has a 450k grant and then there is 1.9 million dollars that is unclear because it's just listed as a "loan." That's either 8k or 42k of city money per unit; I am just spitballing here but it's clear that Grand's aware that small local dollars can be spun into large federal grants. Liberson is not. Liberson's post has several other errors, and is particularly ironic because her complaints that Ann Arbor doesn't have a newspaper are paired with various assertions that MLive's solid local reporting clearly refutes.
Graydon Krapohl: incumbent, 7-4 votes, very very bald, former Marine. Krapohl is pretty quiet and doesn't do a lot on the internet so there's not much else to say. Details of his tenure can be found on Ann Arbor Votes, a non-partisan site. Downside: @aol.com email address.
Elizabeth Nelson was a hurried replacement for Joseph Hood, who dropped out after a disastrous early candidate forum and revelations that he was—gasp—a Republican. Unfortunately, this vetting job didn't go any better. Nelson sent fake city notices to a neighbor who hadn't painted their garage door; those only stopped when the neighbors filed a police report. This was Nelson's comment to Ryan Stanton:
"All I can say is people who know me understand this is the kind of silly thing I would do," the candidate said this week. "It became kind of a fun challenge to see how real I could make it look."
The NIMBYiest of all crimes.
Nelson's website is filled with the usual dogwhistles about "million-dollar condos" and "more taxes and more millages"; the latter is particularly disingenuous because city tax rates are going down. She suddenly appeared on the scene to exhort city council not to buy back the Y Lot because "years of litigation" would ensue; approximately a week of litigation ensued before a settlement. Hard pass.
Chuck Warpehoski: incumbent, 7-4 votes, Quaker(!), director of a local nonprofit. A 2016 Daily endorsement covers the basics if you would like an article-length discussion of Warpehoski's priorities. I think it says something about something that the very worst thing the Eaton faction could come up with about Warpehoski is that he correctly pointed out that several of the people furious about the Lowertown development were advocating for a PUD*, and several years before the very same people were at council advocating against the proposed PUD. This as spun as "question[ing] the integrity" of those people. I'd characterize it more as pointing out their lack thereof.
Ali Ramlawi does have a bit of a track record after running unsuccessfully for the other Ward 5 seat, currently held by Chip Smith, last year. Ramlawi's 2017 campaign was summed up ably by Chris Dzombak, to the point where I have nothing more to add. I mean:
"We should be a better city," Ramlawi said. "I think we should be the city that I fell in love with back in 1985. It's not the same now."
This is impossible and also would be harmful to lots of people. But at least he doesn't do NIMBY crimes.
*[Planned Unit Development, which is a zoning variance tailored to a specific building proposal. A previous failed attempt to develop the Lowertown site got a PUD passed so any other development more or less had to be 1) the exact same thing that failed earlier or 2) rezoned.]
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