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Election Preview: Ann Arbor's 2nd Ward City Council Race

Ann Arbor's 2nd Ward City Council race may be the most hotly contested. Two of the three candidates have raised more money than all other council candidates in the city, combined. 

Three names appear on the ballot:

  • Incumbent Independent Jane Lumm
  • Democratic challenger Kirk Westphal
  • Conrad Brown of the Mixed Use Party

Much has been made in recent years about the division on City Council between supporters of Mayor John Hieftje's agenda and that of his opponents. One of the strongest critics of the Mayor has been Jane Lumm.
As she runs for re-election, Lumm says second ward voters are looking for greater focus on basics services.

As such, Lumm has repeatedly raised objections to the good number of public transit proposals the city is in exploring and engage in, and urged greater energy be focused on  one or two of the possibilities.
She says it's unlikely the city will get the millions of federal dollars needed for all of them.

It was Lumm's vote against accepting money to move forward of the study of a new Amtrak Station that led Democrat Kirk Westphal to enter the race for the second ward council seat. Westphal says one of the top concerns raised by the 2nd Ward residents he has engaged, is traffic congestion. He believes finding public transit options that will work for the community is the best possible solution.Westphal contends Ann Arbor may be on the brink of losing a great chance for the city's future.

Conrad Brown comes to the race from the Mixed Use Party, Brown says improving zoning standards to combat urban sprawl, and applying a  greater focus on basic services are key to Ann Arbor's future. Furthermore, Brown supports abolishment of  tax increment financing revenue that, right now, goes to the Downtown Development Authority. Brown would rather that money be applied to infra-structure needs.

With the balance of city council so close on many of the controversial issues, the outcome of the 2nd Ward race could go a long way towards the direction the city will take in the future.

Listen to Andrew Cluley's report below.

Like many, I first came to this area when I started school at the University of Michigan, then fell in love with the community and haven’t left. After graduating from U of M in the mid 1990’s I interned at WDET for several years, while also working a variety of jobs in Ann Arbor. Then in 1999 I joined the WEMU news team.