City Council Candidate Statements
1st Ward - HRP
Since it began three years ago, the Human Rights Party has been growing in its determination to present a radical alternative, to offer a voice for the unrepresented, to raise issues that are usually ignored, and to fight for progressive changes. Members of the party try to find out what people want, encourage the growth of groups to fight for these goals, and draft appropriate legislation. For example, we feel that it is as important to be on every strike picket line as to attempt to pass anti-strikebreaking laws, restrain the police, and establish a workingpeople's rights commission. But whenever such legislation was presented by HRP on City Council, it it was usually defeated by the Democrats and Republicans.
In the tradition of fighting for people's needs regardless of Council opposition, HRP has succeeded in placing the $5 Marijuana Fine and Rent Control on the April lst Ballot. It is clear that our present drug laws are unjust, unrealistic, and unenforcible. Their existence often leads to police discriminatory harassment. The need for Rent Control is obvious, particularly to tenants in the downtown and campus areas. But people should realize that the success of Rent Control depends on the organized efforts of tenants to oppose the power of the landlords and bankers.
If elected, I would continue to work for more and better services, especially health and child care, housing, and mass transportation. It is very important also that Model Cities programs be continued in spite of the Nixon phase out of the program. HRP has always believed that such services need to be financed by a steeply graduated income tax rather than through the regressive property tax system. However, I have no illusions that increasing the city budget will solve the city's problems. For example, increasing the police budget cannot eliminate crime, any more than our huge national "defense" budget encourages world peace. The problems of crime, poverty, racism, and government corruption are caused by our monopolistic, profit-based economy, and can only be eradicated by transforming the system as a whole.
The Democratic Party's candidate is already saying that there isn't any significant difference between her party and the HRP. However, the record of Democrats on City Council proves otherwise. She says that she is "different" that she will represent the true interests of the people of the First Ward, but Democratic candidates have been making promises like this for decades, and haven't in all that time brought about any fundamental change in our society.
The Human Rights Party wants to work with you to build a new society dedicated to equality and justice, that would guarantee decent jobs, health care, and housing to all its people, that would base production on meeting people's needs and not on the desire for profits.
Beth Brunton has been active in HRP for the past two years, serving on its steering committee and as coordinator. She has also been active in the UFW lettuce and grape boycotts, Impeach Nixon, tuition strike, and the Chile Support Committee. She is a member of the Zoning Board where she fought the Maynard St. McDonald's.
2nd Ward - HRP
What's at stake in this April's city elections? The fate of rent control in Ann Arbor. The fate of the $5 marijuana law in Ann Arbor. And perhaps even the fate (or at least the continued strength) of the Human Rights Party in Ann Arbor.
The effects will be felt--in our pocketbooks and in our lives. HRP's rent control proposal would lower rents throughout the city. A ceiling would be placed on the amount of profits and landlord could make from a building, and incentives would be included for the landlord to put our rent money into maintenance and improvements.
My opponent claims the law is unwieldy and overly complicated. The law was well-prepared--by lawyers, by economists, and by people with experience in tenant organizing. The detail of the law is to insure that landlords and their friends at city hall can't subvert rent control. A law replete with loopholes will help none. I petitioned to get rent control on the ballot and am committed to seeing it work--whether I am on council or off.
I think it's worth noting that the Democratic party's 1973 platform calls for a local rent control ordinance and for the decriminalization of marijuana. It's 1974. What work have they done to make these things happen? The most visible sign of their effort is their position of "no stand" on HRP's rent control and marijuana petitions.
True, some of the Democratic candidates support the ballot proposals -- with criticism. My opponent's misgivings were so great that she wouldn't sign the petitions that put rent control and marijuana on the ballot.
HRP's proposal to reinstate the $5 marijuana fine is one of our many actions regarding the police. In addition to being the least legal penalty that could be established, it is also a step towards prioritizing the police department. And we know who they'll chose to nail the state law on--blacks and young people. My opponent stated she feels this clause is illegal. However, as long as sale and possession of marijuana is still classified as a crime, we are not in contradiction of the state law. As of this writing the state attorney general's staff has indicated we are within our legal boundaries.
HRP and I also advocate decreasing the police budget, which my opponent does not favor. More police do not mean less crime, it means more harassment. As everyone knows Police Chief Walter Krasny is totally unresponsive to the community and our needs. HRP and I advocate firing Krasny. It was only at HRP's insistence that Krasny appeared once last year before City Council for questioning on his actions.
The Democrats (who now call for "review" not control boards of the police) last year voted against even a public hearing on the police.
The existence of HRP is important in this town to continue the kind of work I've described. It takes people thinking and making decisions together, it takes people's energy and commitment to make change. Democratic party officials and candidates don't have to stand by their platform--we've already seen what their platform has meant in terms of rent control and marijuana. It may be the epitome of a cliche, but actions speak louder than words. With HRP candidates you don't have to swallow promises, you can taste actions.
3rd Ward - HRP
There are a number of issues which I am emphasizing in my campaign in the Third Ward. The two ballot issues relating to marijuana and rent control are important and need to be spoken to. Ann Arbor has the second highest rent level in the U.S. Conditions in many buildings are unsatisfactory with landlords grabbing for high profits without concern for tenants' living conditions. Rent control and tenant control are essential for satisfactory housing.
Another issue which needs to be emphasized is 24 hour transportation. Women, gay people, workers and the elderly are confronted with fear of attack because of their inability to move freely within the city during much of the day. This must be corrected.
The Police Department must be brought under the control of the community if the rights of women blacks, other racial minorities, and gays are the be adequately protected--rather than trampled on--by police.
As a gay person, I am intensely interested in issues concerning Ann Arbor's substantial gay community. I am running as an HRP candidate because HRP is the only political party to substantially deal with gay issues. There has been a general failure on the part of the city administration to deal with gay people and their problems, especially in the area of enforcement of the sexual preference section of the Human Rights Ordinance. I hope that my candidacy will expose to the people of Ann Arbor this and other issues of importance.
Harry is 26, and a resident of Ann Arbor since 1965. He has been involved in HRP for 2 years, and served as party coordinator in fall, 1973. He is active in gay liberation, and is treasurer and a member of the board of directors of Gay Community Services of Ann Arbor, Inc.
4th Ward - HRP
I am running as an HRP candidate in the 4th Ward because I feel it is important for the people of this ward to have an alternative to the traditional parties in this election.
Rent Control is an issue of direct interest to people city-wide. There are many people who rent in the 4th Ward, and they have a direct stake in seeing high rental profits controlled so that their housing is available at a more reasonable price. Homeowners, who are the target of a massive scare campaign by landlords, should realize that they can only gain from any measure which improves housing in the city. Homeowners should also be able to see through the self-serving arguments used by landlords to protect their own interests, and should realize that landlords care little more for the welfare of homeowners than they do for that of tenants.
HRP has fought on City Council for the past 2 years to see city priorities directed towards meeting human needs such as housing, medical care, transportation, and other neglected social services. We have fought for a more realiztic and humane approach to marijuana through work on the $5 fine law. These measures have been resisted by both Democrats and Republicans on City Council all along.
Although HRP has no realistic chance of winning this year in the 4th ward--although 4th Warders will not be truly represented on Council until a fairer, proportional representation system is adopted--we are running so that voters in this ward will have a real choice.
Margo Nichols is a librarian at Washtenaw Community College, and is active in her union there. She has been active in HRP for several years, and has served as chairperson of the Education Committee.
5th Ward - HRP
Although HRP faces about the same chances in the Fifth Ward as the Republicans do in the Second, I am running here because I want to provide Fifth Ward voters with an alternative perspective, raise important issues, and provide you with more information so that you can better exercise your judgement.
If you live in the Fifth Ward, you are probably someone who works very hard to make a moderate income. You probably spend a great deal more of that income on necessities, such as food and housing, than you would like. Inflation brought on by disastrous national policies affects you directly. HRP favors price controls on necessities, and the rent control proposal on this April's ballot is an example of this: I urge you to vote yes.
You probably earn your moderate income at a job in which you have little say over conditions and demands made of you. I feel that democracy must be extended to the work place, allowing the people who are most directly involved a say in the way things are done.
If you live in the Fifth Ward, you may feel threatened by feminists and gays and what they stand for. Don't be. If the nuclear family is truly a better lifestyle, it will withstand the pressure; if not, you should learn from its failings.
Although this statement may not produce many votes for HRP in the Fifth Ward, it is an honest statement of some of HRP's principles, and unlike its chameleon opponents, HRP is a principled party.
Jesse is an Economics graduate student at the U of M. He has worked as a factory foreman, on a sanitation crew and at various other jobs. He has been active in HRP for several years and is a member of the Union for Radical Political Economics (URPE).
1st Ward - Democrat
My concern in this campaign is with realistic assessment of our priorities as a city and of our ability to provide the services we see as most important. People make a city a community. We must set budget priorities to reflect our concern for the needs of all Ann Arbor citizens. Community services, transportation, planning, equal rights, and crimes against people are issues which I will address in this campaign.
We must realize that community services such as child care and health care are as necessary as police, fire and garbage collection. Chid care, health care, and similar services are community responsibilities which need more support. This is not to say that other community resources should not be used in conjunction with city-provided ones. Certainly it would be impractical to attempt to provide city-owned and operated medical facilities or child care centers, but we can and should support those who have seen local needs and are attempting to fill them. The various walk-in and drop-in centers are community responses to community needs which should be strongly supported by City Council.
Ann Arbor's size makes it a natural for a well-integrated transportation system. I am speaking not just of mass transit, but of an integrated system of bikeways, parking area, and public transportation vehicles which would encourage the use of economic, efficient methods of traveling from one spot to another. Ann Arbor voters have provided the necessary financial support. Now Council must insist on continued development.
Our experience in the past few years has shown that we can no longer have a policy of continuous unchecked growth. We need to plan carefully the development of our rapidly diminishing vacant land, and identify the best mix of living and business units which will help maintain a viable central city. We should set our priorities to reflect the needs of the community rather than the needs of the developers.
As a City Council member I will press for more vigorous enforcement of Ann Arbor's Human Rights Ordinance. We should increase the employment of minorities and women in positions of responsibility within city government. I have worked as a Human Rights Commissioner for the the passage of the recent amendments and I will work as a Council member for better enforcement of the entire Human Rights Ordinance.
We must halt the skyrocketing increase of crimes against people and property. The fear of assault or burglary is very real for many citizens. Equal enforcement of the laws and equal protection for all areas of the city are vitally necessary to build community trust and develop police-community cooperation.
If Ann Arbor is to support expanded child care and health care opportunities, develop a viable transportation network, plan for the city's housing needs, insure equal rights for women and minorities and stop the increase in crimes against people and property; City Council must set priorities to make most effective use of Ann Arbor's resources. I will work to provide imaginateive approaches to meet the needs of Ann Arbor's citizens.
2nd Ward - Democrat
The needs of Second Ward residents won't be served by a political party's rhetoric, but rather by constructive solutions to practical problems.
The presence of a Republican City Council majority has increased the long-standing City Hall practice of treating students and tenants as second-class citizens. Everything must be done to change these policies or replace the bureaucrats who make them.
Nine out of ten Second Ward residents are tenants, so housing problems must be a high priority. I strongly support rent control, and a "Yes" vote on the April ballot proposal will put the city on record in favor of it. However, rent control is only a partial solution to our housing problems. We must continue to lobby for whatever state and federal money can be made available for low and moderate income housing.
The Police Department continues to waste its time and our money on the wrong priorities, such as ticketing bicycle riders and dwelling on minor traffic and parking violations.
To date, the City Human Rights Department has been a little more than useless. Complaints about discrimination against Blacks, women, students and gays are either ignored or talked to death. We need a Council which will mandate vigorous enforcement of the human rights ordinance which Democrats passed several years ago, and which Republicans are trying to shut their eyes to.
I would like to be able to promise increases in social services programs, but the city's financial crisis and the Republican Council majority make