Soapbox Summer 2018 - Elizabeth Nelson

Jul 19, 2018

Elizabeth Nelson is running for City Council in Ann Arbor's Ward 4.  This is the candidate's submission to WEMU's 2018 Soapbox Summer.  

Hi, my name is Elizabeth Nelson, and I am running for city council in Ward 4 as a Democrat in the primary election this August 7th.  I trained as a lawyer and passed the Michigan bar in 2000.  My family lived abroad for four years, and we moved back here in 2004.  Since living in Ann Arbor, I’ve been active in my own neighborhood and the city, volunteering with community organizations, working in our public schools, and raising two boys.  Two years ago, I earned a masters degree from U of M, with certification to teach.  I currently work as a short-term and long-term substitute teacher.   

My family loves Ann Arbor for the same reasons a lot of people do— we love living in a city full of talent, culture, and beautiful parks.  In these times, especially, we love living in a community full of passionate people who are committed to progressive values.   

I entered this race because I saw a debate on City Council where the words “simple” and “obvious” were repeated over and over again.  Discussion was intentionally framed as narrowly as possible, to ignore history and context.  Over the course of weeks, I heard a complex legal issue over-simplified again and again in our public meetings. 

I am running in this election because I want my member of council actively engaged in thoughtful and serious discussion that considers different options and alternatives.  City council is the last stop in decision making for many policies that originate with unelected commissions, committees, and administrators.  Constructive and thorough discussion among City Council members is our primary representation.  When that discussion breaks down, we’ve lost our voice.   

I’ve talked to over a thousand residents of Ward 4, asking for your thoughts about the city.  I’m more convinced than ever that our ward needs a stronger voice on council. 

Our city is not setting sensible priorities for spending.  Our leaders are funding special projects, while neglecting the infrastructure and basic services residents need.  Passing more millages and taxes is one way that our city becomes less affordable for the people who live here. 

Over-sized development like the George has an impact on neighborhoods.  Our planning process should not create situations where neighborhood residents feel completely shut out and our city council claims it has no choice but to approve unwanted buildings.  An abundant supply of million dollar condos or short-term rentals do not make the city more affordable. 

Our city is not doing enough to promote safety for pedestrians and cyclists.  Pedestrian crosswalks must be standardized so that people are highly visible and signals to drivers are consistent and clear.  As a cyclist, I can tell you: terrible roads are a hazard to people on bikes, too. 

There’s a lot at stake in this election.  I want to be your advocate for potential problems when hundreds of new residents move in on Packard.  I want to be the advocate for residents who have rusty water coming out of their taps, because city pipes need to be replaced.  As a member of council for Ward 4, I would be a thoughtful advocate for our most important needs.  I invite you to visit my website at, that’s A two E L N E L dot com.  I hope you’ll vote for me, Elizabeth Nelson, on August 7th.