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Democrats Stun GOP In City Races

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Democrats Stun GOP In City Races

Capture Four Council Seats

By Ron Cordray

In an impressive display of party organization, city Democrats sent Republicans reeling in stunned defeat yesterday in the City Council election.

Democrats halted a five-year Republican winning streak in convincing fashion by capturing four of five City Council seats. Yesterday’s results leave the GOP with a razor-thin 6-5 majority on the council.

The near-sweep by Democrats in traditionally Republican Ann Arbor is unprecedented in recent election history. Political observers and historians probably will delve into record books to determine when, if ever, a similar Democratic victory occurred.

Republicans entered yesterday’s election with a comfortable 9-2 margin on the city’s governing body. Republican leaders today are beginning assessments of what happened.

Members of the “loyal opposition” swept to victories in the First, Third, Fourth and Fifth Wards. Only a victory in the Second Ward prevented the GOP from suffering complete disaster.

0. William Habel was the only Republican to survive the Democratic resurgence as he defeated Mrs. Fay Kincaid in the Second Ward, 995 to 639.

Incumbent Democratic Councilwoman Eunice L. Burns led the Democratic victory parade with an overwhelming 1,375 to 756 win in the First Ward. She defeated Republican Frederick C. Tower, a newcomer to politics.

Democrats, with no shortage of heroes today, have not been this close to controlling the City Council since 1958 when three Democrats won. If Republicans are looking for a hero today, they could point to Habel.

His victory prevented Democrats from taking control of the council for the first time in 34 years. Democrats had a voting edge on the council in the year ending in April, 1930.

Republicans can now only look to the future for retribution. Following the 1958 Democratic victory the GOP recouped forces and won all five council seats and the race for mayor in 1959. In 1960 Republicans took complete control of the council by posting another five-seat victory.

One of the Democrats most impressive victories was scored by LeRoy A. Cappaert in the Fifth Ward as he surprised Republican Walter A. Gillett by a 325-vote victory margin. He polled 1,990 votes to 1,665 for Gillett. Cappaert was unsuccessful in a bid for the council last year as he lost to Councilman Bent F. Nielsen, 2,097 to 1,575.

Robert P. Weeks captured the city’s most populous ward, the third, by downing Republican Warren A. Jeffrey, 2,081 to 1,918.

Most of the drama in last night’s tense waiting for election results revolved around the contest for the council in the Fourth Ward where Dr. Edward C. Pierce, a Democrat, was opposing Republican Milledge D Bullard Jr.

As the night wore on it appeared Bullard had salvaged some Republican prestige as he led Dr. Pierce by 89 votes with only the second precinct to report in. In a conclusion that would sound trite in Hollywood, Dr. Pierce snatched the council seat from Bullard’s waiting grasp by taking the second precinct, 258 to 157, and winning election by 12 votes. 1,341 to 1,329.

Yesterday’s large voter turnout—in excess of 52 percent— was to a large extent drawn by the work of the candidates and their campaign committees in both parties. Of the persons that went to the polls, 14,089 voted in the council races. This is: 50.4 percent of Ann Arbor’s 27,926 registered voters.

The total was also 504 more than voted on any of the three charter proposals.

Democrats took the overall vote count by trimming Republicans 7,426 to 6,663. This means the Democrats took more than 52 percent of the votes cast in City Council races.

Also, the Democrats won in 16 of the city’s 25 precincts.

Mrs. Burns won in all four of the First Ward’s precincts in posting her lopsided victory. A housewife, Mrs. Burns won over Tower, a lens polisher at Argus Cameras, Inc.

Habel also won in all precincts, taking the Second Ward’s three precincts by margins ranging from one vote to 340. Habel is a retired General Motors Corp. executive who won his first attempt at elective office by downing Mrs. Kincaid, a housewife and vice president of the Women's Democratic Club.

Dr. Pierce, a physician in private practice also making his first run at public office, carried three of the Fourth Ward’s five precincts in defeating Bullard, an employe of the Ford Motor Co.

Cappaert, making his second try for the council, is principal at Pattengill Elementary School. He defeated Gillett, an Ann Arbor High School instructor, in four of the Fifth Ward’s six precincts.

Four Republican councilmen had decided not to seek re-election this year. Councilmen John Dowson, Second Ward, Robert E. Meader, Third Ward, Wendell E. Hulcher, Fourth Ward, and John R. Laird, Fifth Ward, all said two terms was enough for one person to serve on the council.

Newly elected persons will attend their first council meeting as councilmen Monday night. Last session of the present council will be held at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. Holdovers on the council are Republicans William E. Bandemer, Second Ward, Paul H. Johnson, Third Ward, Richard G. Walterhouse, Fourth Ward, Bent F. Nielsen, Fifth Ward, and Mayor Cecil 0. Creal. Democrat John D. Teachout is a Democratic holdover in the First Ward.

Following is a breakdown of the unofficial vote results by precincts in the city’s five wards:

FIRST WARD: Precinct One, Burns 332, Tower 252; Precinct Two, Burns 330, Tower 167; Precinct Three, Burns 246, Tower 111; and Precinct Four, Burns 467, Tower 226. Totals: Burns (D) 1,375, Tower (R) 756.

SECOND WARD: Precinct One, Habel 189, Kincaid 178; Precinct Two, Habel 217, Kincaid 216; and Precinct Three, Habel 589, Kincaid 245. Totals: Habel (R), 995, Kincaid (D) 639.

THIRD WARD: Precinct One, Weeks 290, Jeffrey 188; Precinct Two, Weeks, 350, Jeffrey 261; Precinct Three, Weeks 217, Jeffrey 382; Precinct Four, Weeks 299, Jeffrey 200; Precinct Five, Weeks 431, Jeffrey 451; Precinct Six, Weeks 304, Jeffrey 285; and Precinct Seven, Weeks 190, Jeffrey 151. Totals: Weeks (D) 2,081. Jeffrey (R) 1,918.

FOURTH WARD: Precinct One, Pierce 247, Bullard 258; Precinct Two, Pierce 258, Bullard 157; Precinct Three, Pierce 286, Bullard 285; Precinct Four, Pierce 309, Bullard 424; and Precinct Five, Pierce 241, Bullard 205. Totals: Pierce (D) 1,341, Bullard (R) 1,329.

FIFTH WARD: Precinct One, Cappaert 459, Gillett 332; Precinct Two, Cappaert 423, Gillett 202; Precinct Three, Cappaert 254, Gillett 233; Precinct Four, Cappaert 297, Gillett 313; Precinct Five, Cappaert 378, Gillett 351; and Precinct Six, Cappaert 179, Gillett 234. Totals: Cappaert (D) 1,990, Gillett !R) 1,665.