Soapbox Summer 2018 - Ali Ramlawi

Jul 20, 2018

Ali Ramlawi is running to represent Ann Arbor's 5th Ward on City Council.  Here is the candidate's submission to the 2018 WEMU Soapbox Summer.

My name is Ali Ramlawi, and I am running as a Democrat in the August 7th Primary to represent the 5th Ward of Ann Arbor. 

I have lived in Ann Arbor for almost 20 years, but my roots go back to 1985 when I worked in my family’s grocery store, Ralph’s Market at 709 Packard Street, and then later at my family’s restaurant, Jerusalem Garden.  I took over the business in late 1993, due to a sudden death in the family. 

The most pressing issue we face in Ann Arbor today is affordability.  The word “affordability” has turned into a catchphrase in our community and on social media, yet we do not share a common understanding of what it means.

Income-qualified affordable housing programs include Federal and State programs, as well as local programs such as the Ann Arbor Housing Fund and are geared to individuals making less than $40,000/year. 

If we want to achieve our goals in addressing this type of housing need, the housing fund needs a stable, recurring source of revenue.  I would propose reforming the DDA to provide for this type of funding. 

What can a $15/hour employee afford to rent in Ann Arbor?  I consider 30% of gross income to be affordable – using simple math, that’s about $800/month for rent and utilities. 

I believe in a $15/hour minimum wage and pay my employees such, yet most cannot afford to live in Ann Arbor any longer.  This is a real crisis for many in our community, as well as other communities in Michigan. 

We need to address affordability in a wider context that goes beyond the supply side of housing.  As a Council member, we do control some of the costs to live and do business in our city. 

Ann Arbor residents are nickel-and-dimed for services our City once provided.  These costs add up, and they have a direct impact on the true affordability to live in our community.

For example, the terrible conditions of our roads and streets cause wear and tear on our vehicles and repairs are devastating to those with limited incomes and resources. 

Every year, our water and sewer rates have increased 6 to 7% and are projected to continue to do so for the foreseeable future.  This increase far out paces inflation.

Our current council lacks true visionary leadership and fiscal responsibility and that makes Ann Arbor less affordable.  Our community needs to be truly accessible for everyone, including the working-class and retirees. 

It is time for Council members to move past labels and ideologies and advance our goals for a common good.  Please support me as we continue to address social and economic justice and political change in Ann Arbor. 

Elect a true independent thinker,  Vote for Ali August 7th