Soapbox Summer 2018 - Kirk Westphal

Jul 18, 2018

Kirk Westphal is running to continue serving as the Ann Arbor City Council member in the 2nd Ward.  This is the candidate's submission to WEMU's 2018 Soapbox Summer.

Hi I’m Kirk Westphal.  I’m honored to be your Ann Arbor City Councilmember in the magnificent 2nd Ward.  I’m also excited to be running for re-election, and I’m asking for your vote in the August 7th, Democratic primary.    

Like many of you, my family and I absolutely love Ann Arbor.  We love our neighborhood.   

We love our parks, our historic downtown, our transit system, our schools and cultural life.  We love being part of a community that embraces diversity, and cares deeply about things larger than ourselves.  

12 years ago, I decided I wanted to do more for my community, and I’ve served the city continuously on boards and commissions since then, including 8 years on the planning commission, 5 years on the environmental commission, and 4 years on the commission for disability issues.  

You first elected me to city council four years ago.  During that time, we’ve been able to move forward on several key things that you told us were important:   

Thankfully, our tax base has gotten stronger, so we’re finally starting to catch up on long-overdue items like road repaving and corridor redesigns,,   

We’re upgrading critical pedestrian safety measures, such as crosswalks and lighting, especially near schools,   

We’ve updated water mains,... replaced thousands of street trees, upgraded our wastewater treatment plant, and much more.    

I’m proud of my record as a collaborator on council to make things happen.  

In addition, because of my background in urban planning and economics, I’ve also taken a leadership role in several areas.    

On the subject of pedestrian safety, I authored a resolution that moves the city toward Vision Zero, a set of policies with the goal of no serious injuries on our roadways.  

With regard to development, I led the charge that now requires higher-quality designs for downtown buildings,   

I brought an AARP conference on age-friendly communities to Ann Arbor, because it’s so hard for seniors to downsize here  

I also helped mediate a conversation with the University of Michigan, so we can all be better neighbors with each other when it comes to planning facilities.  

And of course, there’s still a lot of work left to do.  You just need to look outside your window.  Even though we’re investing more than ever in the roads, there’s more to be done, and I’m committed to stay on track to get 80% of the pavement in Good or Excellent condition in 7 years.  We’re also struggling with a huge influx of commuters every day, so we need to keep traffic efficiency investments moving forward, like on Nixon Road.  We need to stay in the game to bring millions in federal grants into our rail system so we can get more cars off the road.  And we need to leverage all the federal money we can to address our affordable housing problem.  

As your council member, I most often deal with solving problems, as I should.  But I think it’s also important to step back and take stock of what a wonderful community we have.  I tell all my friends what an incredible place this is, and we rightly win awards year after year.  Companies are opening up shop in Ann Arbor.  The University and private sector are bringing jobs here.  We are a beacon of success in the midwest and nationally.   

The momentum is building, and I’m proud of our progress.  I’m optimistic about our future.  If re-elected, I promise to make sure we continue forward, in a way that serves us now, and makes us an even better place for future generations.  Thank you.