A Perfect Storm Brewing in Ann Arbor?

Upon the request of summer Michigan Daily editorial page editor Donn Fresard, I adapted my recent blog post on the status of student power in Ann Arbor into a viewpoint for the Daily.
In it, I point to the Ann Arbor blogosphere, new student and
renter-oriented neighborhood organizations, and Eugene’s candidacy as
three conditions which could allow for the fundamental shift in student
politics I’ve been rooting for for years:

Student
and renter attempts at community organizing have been stymied in recent
years. Whether by student apathy, the hostility of the city’s political
elites or a lack of serious and motivated candidates for Ann Arbor City
Council, efforts to involve a major part of the city in the local
public life have sputtered. However, I believe a number of recent
developments has shown that a group of students and renters has
coalesced that will seriously contend for power in the city: Conditions
are ripe for a perfect storm that could revolutionize Ann Arbor
politics. …

No matter how perfectly aligned the conditions, the
storm won’t strike without unprecedented energy fueling it. If they set
their minds to it, students have both the political base and
intellectual resources to be a potent political force that could
fundamentally reshape the city’s political landscape. An atmosphere of
complacency and pessimism about what is possible for the city hangs
around city hall. Let’s imagine a city where tenants’ rights are a top
priority; the planning commission and council aggressively pursue an
agenda of dense, sustainable development; and new and radical ideas to
provide affordable housing — such as subsidized housing and rent
control — are earnestly explored. If they set their minds to it,
students like Dale Winling and Eugene Kang — and their supporters —
could begin to make this vision a reality.

> My viewpoint in the Daily: “A perfect storm brewing in city politics?

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Author: Rob Goodspeed