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NEWS

Saturday, November 01, 2003

City Council Elections Made Simple

Here's a quick synopsis of my take on the the city council races. These are voting suggestions, not endorsements, and I encourage people to disagree with my opinions. In selecting these recommendations, I am choosing the candidates who I believe best embody the type of city council I'd like to see: one with a progressive, inclusive ideology that actively works to include students and students views into city government. For more information about the Ward system, where and how to vote, and to read the results of my questionnaire, see my council elections page.

Ward #1: VOTE ROB HAUG
I was happy to see two student candidates in this ward, and this was probably the closest decision for me to make. Although Rick Lax should be given credit for making the issue of student representation central to his campaign, and says he supports working to re-district the city to create student-majority wards, I believe Haug and the Green Party have a more comprehensive, well-thought-out agenda for the city. In my questionnaire, Lax said about the Patriot act resolution "I donít think the City Council can speak as the voice of the entire city," and has repeatedly claimed he opposed the State Street Area improvement project for increasing rents. While high rents are almost certainly an important issue, I don't believe the overdue street improvements are to blame.

Ward #2: VOTE AMY SEETOO
Although I've heard the council has appreciated his knowledge on some issues, Amy Seetoo's opponent Mike Reid has consistently opposed resolutions and policy changes I have supported. With strong connections to reactionary neighborhood associations, Reid was a vocal opponent of accessory apartments, which would have increased the density downtown and provided a small but much-needed increase in the number of housing units available to the student population. A university researcher, Seetoo has been active in Ann Arbor's Asian-American community, which although sizable also often goes unrepresented, and I believe she would be an excellent additon to the city council.

Ward #3
In this ward, I think Democrat Leigh Greden and independent Donna Rose are the strongest candidates, although I hesitate to strongly recommended either. Greden, an attorney and U-M alum, supports the greenbelt, said he would have voted for the Patriot Act resolution, and (sensibly) said he opposes charging U-M students for city services. However, he seems content with the organization of city government, avoiding my question about whether he thinks city wards should be re-drawn, and suggests students contact their councilpersons to have their views represented. Donna Rose, running against Greden, opposes the greenbelt proposal. I don't know enough about her to make a firm judgment, but her other ideas seem interesting: she told the Ann Arbor News her top three issues were regional public transportation, equal access for people with disabilities to city services, and emergency preparedness.

Ward #4: VOTE SCOTT TRUDEAU
First, a quick disclaimer: personally know two of the candidates in this ward: Scott Trudeau and Dan Sheill. To her credit, incumbent republican Marcia Higgins seems very moderate, and has rarely been as vocal as Mike Reid, but I think this ward provides an opportunity to elect a strong voice for students.
Although he opposes the greenbelt on the grounds it will cause sprawl farther out of the city, Libertarian candidate and U-M undergrad Dan Sheill supports a student ward, and I think some if his ideas, such as liberalized zoning laws, are interesting. That said, I think Scott Trudeau is the strongest candidate in this ward. A recent U-M grad, candidate for regent, and University employee, Trudeau would bring an excellent knowledge of both Ann Arbor and the student community. His strong commitments to the environment, affordable housing, dense development, and increasing student's political power in the city closely mirrors what I'd like to see happen in the city, and he deserves your vote.

Ward #5: VOTE WENDY WOODS
Although Woods opposes creating a student ward (like all Ann Arbor Democrats), she has made passage of the city's living wage ordinance, the Patriot Act resolution, and increasing affordable housing priorities. She is the best candidate running in this ward, and deserves re-election.

Remember: Election Day is next Tuesday, November 4!

Posted by Rob at 12:29 PM
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