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Factions, Frictions and Futures: Election Time in Ann Arbor

(This entry was posted in Local in Ann Arbor on July 28, 2020 at 7:25 pm and is filed under politics.)

Endorsing candidates for all five City Council seats in Ann Arbor. Ward 1: Anne Bannister. Ward 2: Jane Lumm. Ward 3: Tony Brown. Ward 4: Jack Eaton. Ward 5: David Silkworth. Here’s why.

Ann Arbor’s Democratic primary election on August 4, 2020 is probably going to be the most consequential election in Ann Arbor for the near future. By choosing a new City Council, voters will also be choosing a future path for the City, and depending on the outcome, there will be no going back.  Although we have always had agendas and differences, there has rarely been a divergence so sharply defined.

What is at stake?

Although there are many themes and questions (how can we deal withhousing affordability? what about the roads? taxes – who should pay? what about Climate Change!), this election is simply about power.  It is about votes and whether Mayor Christopher Taylor controls them. It is about the direction and purpose that our civic body, the City of Ann Arbor, will take, and how that will affect its various constituencies. So while we have 10 likely candidates running for 5 seats (and really, they are all good and sincere people with minds of their own) – the question for Ann Arbor voters is – which faction do we want to win?

Click the link above to read the article in full.

Campaign finance reports show alliances in Ann Arbor council races

ANN ARBOR, MI — More than $260,000 in donations have fueled the campaigns of 13 Democratic candidates seeking seats on City Council in the Aug. 4 primary.

Campaign finance reports show political alliances in the continued battle for control of Ann Arbor’s council.

Mayor Christopher Taylor and his allies saw their 7-4 majority flip in the 2018 election.

Taylor, who is criticized by opponents as too pro-development, is backing five candidates in this year’s election.

5th Ward

The three-way race for an open seat in the 5th Ward features Briggs, Michniewicz and David Silkworth.

Briggs, who is backed by Taylor, reported over $27,000 in cash donations and over $5,000 worth of in-kind contributions, with nearly $9,700 left to spend and over $2,100 in debt owed.

Silkworth, who is backed by members of the council majority, reported over $9,600 in cash donations and over $2,200 worth of in-kind contributions, leaving him under $650 to spend. He separately reported over $1,300 in late contributions.

Michniewicz reported over $7,400 in cash contributions and over $680 worth of in-kind contributions, with over $2,700 left to spend. He separately reported a $500 late contribution.

Some of Briggs’ donors include Chip Smith, whom she’s running to replace, real estate developer Dan Ketelaar, former Council Members Carsten Hohnke and Kirk Westphal, Ann Arbor school board member Jeff Gaynor, “Violin Monster” Zachary Storey, and Disch, Eyer, Grand, Gunn, Krapohl, Letaw, Lowenstein, Milshteyn, Sandi Smith, Song, Teall and Taylor.

Briggs also received over $1,000 from Hauptman, $1,000 from Bernstein, $500 from the Realtors PAC of Michigan and $500 from the Michigan Laborers Political League PAC.

Some of Silkworth’s donors include Bannister, Collins, Griswold, Hathaway, Kailasapathy, Newell, Stulberg, community activist Alan Haber and former City Planning Commissioner Eric Lipson.

Some of Michniewicz’s donors include Alex Green of the Human Rights Watch in New York, Redmond and the Michigan Democratic Party’s Progressive Caucus.

Several people with Ann Arbor ties, including Hauptman and real estate developer Ron Mucha, also have donated to the Inspire Michigan PAC, which has spent several thousand dollars on efforts to support Briggs, Disch and Eyer and oppose Eaton, Lumm and Savabieasfahani, finance reports show.

Our July Mailer

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Defenders vs. disrupters: The debate over preserving neighborhood character in Ann Arbor

(Ann Arbor News July 26, 2020)

ANN ARBOR, MI — In the battle for control of Ann Arbor’s City Council, there are defenders and disrupters.

There are those who call for preserving and protecting single-family neighborhoods, and those who call for more housing density and, in their words, disruption.

The 13 candidates competing in five council races in the Aug. 4 primary fall on different parts of that spectrum — some on opposite ends, and some in the middle. All are running as Democrats.

Silkworth, who is backed by members of the council majority, said threats of doing away with single-family zoning have caused a lot of concern.

In a campaign postcard, Silkworth’s first stated goal is protecting single-family zones from “disruptive overdevelopment.”

Democratic Deadlock

Two factions-and three wild cards-face off in the August 4 city council primary.

(Ann Arbor Observer August 2020 Issue)

Ward Five

Erica Briggs, forty-three, has a master’s in public administration from EMU and is on the city’s planning commission. She has “thirty-plus” volunteers and wants to raise $35,000.

Briggs got into politics via the Washtenaw Biking and Walking Coalition, and is frustrated at how progress in nonmotorized transit has slowed under the Basics majority. “The majority of bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure improvements over the last two years have been voted down (even free projects),” she emails, including “[t]he Green Road and Earhart Road reconfigurations.”

She’s also disappointed at the rejection of “modest revisions to make it a bit easier to build Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) in neighborhoods, and, most recently, a proposal to ask Planning Commission to make a recommendation about necessary code changes to enable more housing along transit corridors.”

David Silkworth, fifty-two and an insurance adjuster, is running his campaign with his spouse, has ten volunteers, and hopes to raise about $13,000.

He emails that his priorities would include helping residents and business owners “who continue to experience financial losses due to COVID-19.” Even before the pandemic, he writes, they were suffering “the negative effects caused by the sustained concentration of success in our community at a time when local government didn’t have an adequate redistributive mechanism in place to ensure that those successes could be shared by folks who didn’t share in them directly.”

Silkworth says he’d work “to increase our supply of affordable housing while maintaining essential city and human services and affordability for current residents.” But allowing major changes in existing neighborhoods, he writes, would lead only to “increased gentrification and a continued lack of affordability.”

Dan Michniewicz, thirty-three, is the other Democratic Socialist in the race. A Zingerman’s baker laid off by the pandemic, he had raised $5,000 by early May and is his own manager, with a couple friends as advisers.

He’s calling for creation of a city energy utility, defunding the police, and increasing “the stock of decommodified housing, including cooperatives and Ann Arbor Housing Commission Units.” And he has a unique take on the present political deadlock: it may be a feature of the system, not a bug. A “very dysfunctional city council can be very good for some people in our community,” he writes, “especially if you don’t want anything to change very much.”

Where Ann Arbor council candidates stand on the firing of Howard Lazarus

(Ann Arbor News July 11, 2020)

In the 5th Ward, three candidates are competing for an open seat being vacated by Chip Smith, another of the mayor’s allies who was against the firing.

Two of the candidates — Erica Briggs and Dan Michniewicz — opposed the firing, while the other, David Silkworth, isn’t taking a position on it.

Silkworth said he never had a working relationship with Lazarus and can’t say whether he should have been fired.

“Personnel decisions are complicated, often involving an interplay of detailed contracts, labor agreements, codes of conduct and performance reviews, and sometimes involving investigations into personal conduct that includes details that are not made available to the public, and these decisions always require expert legal advice before they’re ultimately decided, so it’s impossible for me to provide a definitive answer about this without having all of this information,” he said.

Silkworth said his encounters with Lazarus were always respectful and cordial, and Lazarus personally thanked him for his advocacy on pedestrian safety.

Silkworth said he also attended Ann Arbor Citizens Academy meetings where Lazarus was present and he was always professional. That said, Lazarus “made some unflattering comments about members of the current City Council” when he applied for a job in Florida, Silkworth recalled, adding he couldn’t comment without more information on whether that violated his employment agreement or any codes of conduct.

Ward 5 Ann Arbor council candidates discuss policing, racial justice, housing 

(Ann Arbor News June 18, 2020)

Clockwise from top left, moderator Megan Foster Friedman and candidates Dan Michniewicz, David Silkworth and Erica Briggs in a 5th Ward City Council candidate forum hosted by the Ann Arbor Democratic Party on June 17, 2020.Image provided

ANN ARBOR, MI — Three candidates are seeking a 5th Ward seat on City Council in the Aug. 4 Democratic primary.

Erica Briggs, Dan Michniewicz and David Silkworth shared their views on issues ranging from racial justice to policing and the COVID-19 pandemic during a virtual forum hosted by the Ann Arbor Democratic Party on Wednesday, June 17.

Our June Mailer

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Ann Arbor City Council candidates include police reform measures platforms amid nationwide protests

(The Michigan Daily Thursday June 18, 2020)

After the killing of George Floyd, protests against police brutality and racism erupted nationwide, calling for an end to systemic racism, police department oversight and defunding the police.

With elections coming up on August 4, City Council candidates from all five of Ann Arbor’s wards have turned their focus to fighting police brutality in Ann Arbor. 

David Silkworth, a University alum, supports empowering ICPOC, working with Police Chief Cox in creating more effective policing policies and enabling safe community policing.

Silkworth said the investigative power of ICPOC needs to be expanded by allowing subpoena power and giving access to police records and documents. He also said ICPOC should be given more funding to ensure their ability to conduct police inquiries.

“One of the things I think is key here is that the city has reopened contract negotiations with the police union,” Silkworth said. “Hopefully these negotiations will end in a more just organization.”

Wave of council candidates file in Ann Arbor, pandemic doesn’t stop signature gathering

(Ann Arbor News April 22, 2020)

ANN ARBOR, MI — There now are more than a dozen candidates running for City Council this year.

The Ann Arbor clerk’s office confirmed several more candidates in recent days turned in over 100 petition signatures each to get on the Aug. 4 Democratic primary ballot, not letting the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic stop them.

That includes incumbent Anne Bannister in the 1st Ward, incumbent Jane Lumm in the 2nd Ward, Tony Brown and Evan Redmond in the 3rd Ward, incumbent Jack Eaton in the 4th Ward and David Silkworth in the 5th Ward.