One of Agenda Publication's main goals is to increase public participation in the democratic processes available. To this end, we invited all candidates running for Ann Arbor Mayor or Councilperson to fully participate in the following forum. The format is a 3-question written interview: one question from each candidate and one question from AGENDA. That is, candidates formulated one question which both they and their opponent answered.
AGENDA was as flexible as possible with all candidates in an attempt to publish a complete guide. Those candidates absent are not listed due to their own failure to meet our very flexible deadlines.
Mayor: Ed Pierce (D) vs. Gerald Jernigan (R) A. AGENDA: Two years from now, at re-election time, what would you like to be able to claim as your most important accomplishment as Mayor? What steps will you take to achieve your goal? B. Pierce: Did you vote for or against Proposal A and Proposal B in the spring of 1986? (Proposal A called for the cessation of U.S. military activity in Central America and for the establishment of a sister city relationship; Proposal B was a $3 million bond proposal to provide $1 million/year for the next three years for street recon-struction.) C. Optional: Concluding Remarks
Ed Pierce . A. Two years from now I would like the average Ann Arborite to say that Ed Pierce and his fellow Democrats have run the City well; the roads are finally getting repaired; the crime rate is edging downward; affordable housing is more of a reality because of the 1/2 mill approved by the voters for that purpose in April of 1987; the various human services that we partially fund are fulfilling their missions of caring for our people; the arts are flourishing; the kids in public housing feel better about themselves; our planning efforts are less contentious; and our City is maintaining its image where all of our diverse population lives in peace.
I will continue to support the above goals by the prudent use of taxpayer dollars. I am planning early in my second term to appoint a knowledgeable citizen's group to examine the status of crime in Ann Arbor, i.e. what can we effectively do to reduce crime in our wonderful city. I will also continue to appoint people to our Boards and Commissions who represent the full diversity of our population.
B. I strongly supported both Proposals last year. I vigorously supported Proposal A. The voters also supported this Proposal with a 61% majority. (By way of perspective, I have never won any of my elections by anything approaching 61%!) The Central America Sister City Task Force was appointed by myself, with Council approval, and we Democrats provided operational seed money for the task force.
My wife, Mary Lee, and I led the first delegation of Ann Arbor citizens to our new Sister City in Juigalpa, Nicaragua. I am very proud of the fact that Ann Arbor people support such endeavors. We are true peacemakers. On March 11, 1987 our Congressman, Carl Pursell, finally voted against further Contra aid; perhaps he's finally listening.
I have been so impressed with the Task Force's activities that I am planning, if re-elected, to appoint an Ann Arbor Peace Commission. Such a commission will be modestly funded and will be a focal point for all of the peace activists of Ann Arbor. Who knows, in time we may have a sister city in the USSR. The Road Bond Proposal was the only way that I could see to continue our aggressive road repair program. We are finally getting on top of the situation, thanks to the support of 61% of the people who approved the Proposal. The Republicans on City Council, including my opponent for this election, fought Proposal B and I am glad the voters did not follow their lead.
C. One of the criticisms my opponent levels at me and the other Democrats on City Council is to accuse us of micromanagement. I spend about 20 to 25 hours per week on City business. After being your Mayor for two years, there are still many things regarding City Hall about which I don't know enough. To make proper decisions I need to be properly informed. This takes time. It seems to me that the current scandal in Washington should make us wary of chief executives who pay no (or too little) attention to detail.
Lastly, I have had wonderful support of the voters of Ann Arbor over many years and many elections. It has been a high honor to serve you. I cannot be a good Mayor without the help of my Democratic colleagues on City Council. If you like what we've been doing these past two years, please go to the polls on April 6.
Gerald Jernigan No response.
First Ward Candidates: Ann Marie Coleman (D) vs. Ron Witchie (R) A. AGENDA: Two years from now, at re-election time, what would you like to be able to claim as your most important accomplishment as councilperson? What steps will you take to achieve your goal? B. Witchie: What portion of Council time should be dedicated to each of the following issues: global, national, state, and local? C. Coleman: Because of the Reagan budget cuts, more and more human services must be funded locally. How would you make sure that critical human services are available locally?
Ann Marie Coleman. A. In two years, I hope to be able to say that Ann Arbor is a better place to live and work because I have served on City Council. That means continuing to provide the quality constituent services which Lowell Peterson and Larry Hunter have done. I will be an advocate in City Hall for the concerns of the people of the First Ward. I believe an active, involved citizenry is important to our community. Neighborhood groups which are concerned with a variety of issues help people know one another and work together. I hope to strengthen neighborhood groups by supporting those which already exist and by helping others emerge.
The development of affordable housing for low and moderate income individuals and families is crucial to our community. I support the Housing Millage and intend to work to meet the pressing housing needs of our community. Uniform and consistent enforcement of the housing code which sets minimal standards for rental housing is necessary to protect the health and safety of the tenants. It also helps protect the housing stock. 57% of the people who live in Ann Arbor rent housing. In the First Ward, this is even higher. Improving living conditions in public housing through rehabilitation and tenant service will also help.
For Ann Arbor to be a good place to work, we must maintain a diverse business community where small as well as large businesses can thrive. I support the Community Development Corporation which assists small businesses and encourages those which are cooperatively run. Because I believe the City can contribute to a good atmosphere for all workers in the community, I will support efforts to make the city a model employer with strong affirmative action goals.
B. The role of City Council is to make policy and oversee the operations of the City of Ann Arbor. Therefore a major portion of time is spent on issues which relate specifically to this community. They include land use; development of a solid waste strategy; how the downtown will look; plans for the North Main/River corridor; what mix of housing, commercial and business the community desires; how we build a community that includes diverse races and economic situations; how we maintain our parks and set aside money for park acquisition; how we protect significant natural features; how police and fire service can be effective; how we can improve parking policies and traffic patterns; and many others.
However, we do not live in a vacuum. We are connected with others and in particular, county and state governments. Ann Arbor is part of Washtenaw County and we must find better ways of cooperating with one another. Such cooperation could lead to the commitment of funds which could be used for human services of park acquisition.
The State of Michigan has laws which affect this community as well as funds which can help make our community a better place to live. Because we are interconnected, we have to consider what effect our actions have on the state, as well as how state legislation affects this community.
Certainly the last few years have made it abundantly clear that national policies have an effect on Ann Arbor. Because of the Reagan Administration's desire to build more and more weapons, human beings have suffered. While the military has received more and more, it has been the policy of the Administration to shortchange our most important resource - human beings. There have been cuts in federal revenue sharing, community development block grants, and public housing. I believe City Council must address those National issues which have local implications.
Through the Central America initiative, citizens have made it abundantly clear that when the national government does not respond to citizens, it is the role of the city to be involved. The Initiative was placed on the ballot by citizens, and passed overwhelmingly by the voters. I believe that citizens of Ann Arbor want and expect leadership from local officials. We are part of the global community. As we learn to work together on City Council, we can provide models for what it means to be a just and humane community.
C. The City Council has recognized the responsibility for meeting needs by adopting a human services definition which includes "Human Services are those services provided to individuals or families experiencing difficulty in meeting their basic human needs for physical survival ... for ... sustaining gainful employment, ... for support and interaction in times of personal or family crises, for assistance in addressing specific pathologies and for help in gaining access to available appropriate services." - Task Force on Council Priorities for Human Service Funding.
They have also adopted eligibility requirements, criteria for selecting grant recipients and application requirements.
A process has been set up to systematically and rationally make decisions about human services. This is especially important because there are going to be more demands for human services. Each year the City Council sets up priorities for funding based on public hearings, input from agencies, and staff needs assessments. I support the Council process which has been established and will work to see that it is continues. I also hope we can work more closely with the county to meet the human service needs of our citizens.
Because the needs are so great and so pressing, we must lobby our state and federal legislators and bureaucrats about the human service needs of our citizens. We must also encourage and develop public private partnerships to meet the critical human needs.
Ron Witchie. A. In two years, I hope to be able to say that I helped to make more funds available for the city's use.
We encouraged small business to locate in Ann Arbor, which brought in the greatest portion of new jobs during the two years. The city also became more attractive for developers to produce single family dwellings. Encouraging the city to purchase real estate along North Main and reselling it at a profit also added to our usable funds.
The increase in funds allowed us to bolster our police department, sending more officers out on the street to patrol and keep Ann Arbor safe. We maintained the attractive and homey atmosphere that has been Ann Arbor's heritage.
B. Our city is a unique place because of our commitment to it. Maintaining Ann Arbor's special and homey atmosphere requires foresight and planning. Concentration on local issues is the key. Dealing with global, national, or state issues duplicates effort. We have elected and paid taxes for people to represent us in those levels of government. In Ann Arbor, we have a job to do, a local job, an important job. Local issues require 100% of our time.
C. Necessary human services can be provided in Ann Arbor if tax dollars are available to fund them. The way to make sure tax dollars are available is not by increasing personal property taxes, nor should it be from introducing city income tax, rather we must look to long term tax base improvements through increased commerce. Until that point, if significant amounts of funding were diminished, some deficits and budget cutting would be unavoidable.
Second Ward Candidates: Mary Reilly (D) vs. Terry Martin (R) A. AGENDA Two years from now at re-election time, what would you like to be able to claim as your most important accomplishment as a councilperson? What steps will you take to achieve your goal? B. Martin: What is your position on financing of low-income housing? Please be specific. C. Reilly: What do you consider the important city issues that affect the Second Ward?
Mary Reilly. A. I would like to see the work of the Downtown Steering Committee put into action so that the direction of downtown development will be clearly established. I am especially concerned with the pedestrian improvements, which are so important to a vital downtown. I expect to continue to work closely with the DTSC to help implement our proposed plans.
B. The city should consider the use of mandatory inclusionary zoning to make low and moderate-income housing available. Where large multiple-family housing units are proposed, a certain proportion should be dedicated to this purpose.
If the voters decide to approve the millage proposal currently on the ballot, I would support the use of these funds to make loans to low-income families through the Community Block Development Office. Often the payments on a modest home are as low or lower than apartment rental, but these families have difficulty in obtaining loans. This would encourage private ownership of homes by families at all income levels.
C. A. Land use: One issue is land use and development. Maintenance of open "green space" and preservation of natural features will be very important in the next few years. I would work for the proposed Natural Features ordinance and for park acquisition. The planning process in general needs to be made more progressive, with more citizen involvement at early conceptual states of planning. B. Public safety: The Neighborhood Watch program is an important way for citizens to feel safe from crime as it affects them in their homes. We could also augment our police force by hiring cadets on 3-year probationary terms. This would help increase the numbers of minorities and women on the force, and would be a cost-effective method of increasing numbers of police personnel. C Roads: The final configurations of Plymouth Road and Fuller as the major traffic arteries through the Ward should include provisions for pedestrian safety, such as sidewalks on both sides of each road and stoplights near major shopping areas and at crossings for schoolchildren. Bicycle paths should be included where possible.
Terry Martin. A. Why is Ann Arbor considered such an attractive place to live? Why do its citizens drive many miles each day to their workplace in order to live in Ann Arbor? Why do people of all income levels believe that Ann Arbor is THE place to live? Is it because this community has character, individuality, and a quality of life which makes it unique? Is it the mix of academic, cultural, recreational, and aesthetic features or its high rate of employment? Is it the high quality of its schools and the opportunity to pursue educational alternatives? Is it the citizens' concern and support for the less fortunate, the handicapped, the homeless, the deprived?
It is all of these existing positive features which make this City a vigorous, thriving community, a place where many aspire to live. It is my goal to maintain and enhance the good qualities which already exist.
B. If the need for housing for residents of low income is verified, and eligibility and criteria clearly established, I would encourage and support the involvement of the private sector. Private developers, with incentives, such as a percentage of tax abatement for a specified period of time, could provide moderately priced housing. Alternate, creative solutions should be investigated. "Sweet equity," a program which has met with success in other communities, involves hands-on experience in creating one's own dwelling. Ownership, with the resultant pride, self-confidence and sense of responsibility is another option.
A viable solution for assistance to low income residents, could include a subsidized down payment from the public or private sector, to buy equity in a housing unit. While the proposed Council concept is not burdened with paralysis of analysis, it is assumed that a three bedroom unit could be built for $50,000. Even with the current bank interest rate of 9 percent, a mortgage could be assumed for a monthly payment of $355 over 15 years. Amortization schedules vary with initial down payments and the number of years, and possible MSHA loans, at 6 percent could reduce monthly payments considerably. The question must be asked, why did Council not investigate other options or inaugurate a pilot program with existing funds in order to test the waters? The ballot proposal as it reads, is nonspecific, and voters should not be asked to approve funding for a concept which has no supportive facts, no public input and no binding documentation.
C. Issues that affect the City are obviously pertinent to the Second Ward. Crime, roads, development, and taxes concern all citizens. Neighborhood Watch reports, in the Second Ward, indicate concern with an increasing rate of crime. Theft, which has increased by 54 percent, has made residents aware of roaming cars and unidentified persons in neighborhoods.
Police should be more visible to Ann Arbor citizens. Patrols should be assigned to each ward with special emphasis on the schools where officers should be encouraged to make friendly contacts with children.
The Police Department should not be in the business of collecting revenue for the City, as it breeds ill will. Rather they should save unfriendliness for the criminal element that has infiltrated the City.
Development of existing land is of special interest to Second Ward residents. The quality of residential neighborhoods must be maintained and natural features and the environment protected. Developers and neighborhoods must cooperate to make rational decisions, but residents must realize that an increase in the tax base is essential if the City is to maintain high quality education, parks and recreation and aesthetic improvements.
Roads and maintenance are of continuing concern and millions of dollars have been poured into asphalt with monies raised by two voter approved bond issues, a state gasoline tax refund and sales tax refunds. The City must grade the performance of contractors to determine the effectiveness of road repair and maintenance. Many of our citizens have recently received hefty increases in their tax assessments. These increases will necessarily be passed on to renters. Residents on low or fixed incomes must be considered when taxes or assessments are increased and the expenditure of tax dollars must be carefully prioritized.
Third Ward Candidates: Jeff Epton (D) vs. Isaac Campbell (R) A. AGENDA: Two years from now, at re-election time, what would you like to be able to claim as your most important accomplishment as a councilperson? What steps will you take to achieve your goal? B. Campbell: If not elected, what will be your political goals for the next two years? C. Epton: Do you think that strict enforcement of the Housing Code is a desirable goal? Do you think that strict enforcement makes housing less affordable?
Jeff Epton. A. My major goal as an activist, councilperson or otherwise, is to live in a community which attaches the highest importance to Affirmative Action and nondiscrimination. Some people and groups in our society are consistently under represented politically and discriminated against socially and economically. The consequences of discrimination and inequality are destructive to each of us as individuals and as part of a larger community.
No single change, no casual commitment, will create a diverse, inclusive, non-discriminatory community. Though Ann Arbor cannot reach such a goal alone, progress can be made in incremental steps. The strategy, to this point, has included steps such as attempts to create new, affordable housing, a continuing commitment to Affirmative Action, the provision of services to populations with special needs (such as day care to low-income single parents), city-wide support for an integrated educational system, maintenance and creation of employment opportunities at all skill and training levels, and outreach to and recruitment of minorities, women and other groups to serve on city boards and commissions. I hope, over the next two years, to be part of a Council majority which takes a variety of different steps, affirmative, nondiscriminatory and empowering, such as: significant steps towards increasing the number of women and minorities in leadership positions at City Hall; follows up on the results of a pay equity study and ends any pay discrimination in the City Hall workforce based on gender; passes a new Housing Code and new inspection regulations which guarantee fair and comprehensive enforcement of the code; involves more community people in program planning especially in the community centers and in youth programming; continues previous efforts to ensure that the City's Human Rights Ordinance is understood throughout the community and enforced; and adds staff to the City Hall workforce in order to improve Human Rights evaluation and enforcement, Housing Code enforcement, and complaint processing, especially in regard to police conduct (perhaps in the form of an ombuds-type function).
B. Thinking about my political goals over the next two years, if I am not re-elected to Council, is something I can do with part of the next two years.
C. The requirements of the Housing Code represent the City's position on the kinds of conditions which insure tenant health and safety, maintenance of rental housing stock, and provide for the general public benefit.
Though the Housing Code confers certain rights on tenants, such as the right to withhold rent if a Certificate of Occupancy has expired or been revoked, such rights are not generally known or exercised. Tenants' power to compel compliance with the code, in the absence of predictable and comprehensive enforcement, is limited.
The City's record in code enforcement in the past has been erratic. Only recently has an effort been made to fit all rental housing into a regular, bi-annual inspection cycle. Other features of a strict, but fair inspection policy which remains to be implemented include: regular staff training and consultation sessions in which inspectors seek clarification and agreement on code interpretation, and the addition of the staff necessary to eliminate inspection backlogs. Such an approach will help to maintain general rental housing quality in Ann Arbor and protect the more specific interests of individual tenants who are frequently less knowledgable about the requirements of the code than are property owners and managers.
In general, such an enforcement approach should not create upward pressure on rents. In certain cases, where conditions in a unit are in excessive violation of the code, enforcement may result in vacating or eliminating a unit from the market. However, regular and routine enforcement should prevent such situations from developing. Enforcement should, over time, eliminate the need to close units and reduce the need for major and expensive rehabilitation. Because most of the requirements of the code bear on maintaining safe conditions in good repair, code enforcement which guides such routine maintenance could result in better average conditions in housing and stable costs.
Isaac Campbell. A. Two years from now, at re-election time, I would like to claim as my most significant accomplishment the fact that I am not a stranger to my constituents in my ward.
The Third Ward is a large and diverse ward. It contains citizens from every economic and social status. I may have common goals with only a small group of my constituents, but I must represent them all equally.
I know that the majority of citizens do not follow the workings of their government. This is true on the local and the national level. It is usually not until something of major importance happens that the people will get involved in the details. This means that my job as their representative is to take the government to them.
I have strong feelings as to how the City of Ann Arbor should exercise its responsibility as a local government. However, I don't believe that I know it all. I must always be outreaching to the citizens for their input. As I do this, I hope that I will gain the reputation as a person who is honestly concerned with the welfare of all the people I represent. I hope that even the people with whom I disagree on a certain point, will concede that I am honest and sincere in my desire to serve my city.
B. If I should not be elected, I hope to spend the next two years working with some of the people I have met during my campaign who feel that they are disenfranchised. They have found in me someone who is willing to listen and to act on their behalf. I feel that they still need to be represented in committee meetings, in social gatherings, at caucus meetings, and everywhere there is someone with the power to act upon their concerns. One thing that campaigning for public office does for the candidate, I believe, is that it makes us more conscientiously aware of what is going on around us. If we are good dates, we take this education and we use it whether we do it in office or out.
C. Strict enforcement of the housing code is a desirable goal. The housing code is designed to safeguard the health and lives of the people occupying the building. The code should be designed to cover the minimum of what is desirable. Therefore I don't think that it will make housing more costly. The problem arises when code restrictions are used to try and weed out all possible abuses. Because this is an impossible goal, housing codes (or traffic codes for that matter) with this aim become too restrictive and unfair. They also become costly, and that cost gets passed on to those the code is supposed to protect. I think it is best to have a set of codes that assure a minimum quality of safety. Beyond that I believe that abuses should be attacked as they occur on a case by case basis.
No response from Fourth Ward Candidates: Richard Layman (D) vs. Jerry Schleiker (R)
Fifth Ward Candidates: Kathy Edgren (D) vs. Phil Spear (R) A. AGENDA: Two years from now, at re-election time, what would you like to be able to claim as your most important accomplishment as councilperson? What steps will you take to achieve your goal? B. Spear: Do you support the following: 1) combining a police and fire department, 2) four million dollars in millage for low-cost housing and 3) the SRO project on West Liberty? C. Edgren: What should the city do to ensure that adequate, quality housing is available for all who need it?
Kathy Edgren. A. My goal is to facilitate citizen involvement in city government. At re-election time two years from now I want to be able to look back at thousands of people who have gotten involved in the process of self-government and who have achieved important goals because of my efforts. I want to help citizens learn how to work the system and to institutionalize responsiveness on the part of the bureaucracy wherever possible. This is why my re-election slogan is: "Giving you clout at City Hall."
Citizens and I have worked to get certain issues onto the floor of City Council. We have successfully done this with issues such as domestic violence, child care and pay equity.
Working with neighborhood groups about issues of developments or neighborhood nuisances; with public housing tenants about conditions in their housing; with tenant groups about housing code enforcement; with church groups, students, and unaffiliated individuals about housing problems and the housing millage; and improving citizen access to boards and commissions are some more specific examples of steps I have taken to achieve this goal.
I have also helped individuals who have called me with what they thought were individual problems to form groups to work together effectively. Parking ordinances, zoning ordinance enforcement problems, condo-conversion concerns, problems regarding free time activities for youths, and building a skate boarding facility are some specific examples. I want people to be able to say: government is us, not them doing something to us.
B. 1) No. I do think it was a valuable experience, however, to explore this possibility. Committee members agreed to further study of the two departments to increase their effectiveness and reduce costs.
2) Yes. Council unanimously passed the Peterson/Hahn resolution agreeing to sell city-owned land on West Liberty if a MSHDA financing package could be put together. The proposal still needs to go through re-zoning and site plan approval with several public hearings yet to come.
There is a real need for an S.R.O. facility, especially given the closing of the Downtown Club and the high cost of housing in Ann Arbor. Residents would be limited to those with Ann Arbor ties. It is anticipated that about 50% of the single residents will be working at minimum wage jobs, 35% would be GA. recipients who are potentially employable, and 15% would be SSI recipients, who due to disabilities would be unlikely to be employed.
The S.R.O. would be an innovative partnership between the city, a developer, and the Salvation Army. I believe it will be well-maintained, well-managed and an attractive asset to the city and to the surrounding neighborhood.
3) I believe there is a community consensus on the problem of housing affordable to lower income people. In countless public hearings, in A3 futuring sessions and in conversations with constituents it is consistently raised as a key problem. Target populations for the housing created by the housing millage will include families, seniors and handicappers with Ann Arbor lies. The units created will be mixed in with non-subsidized developments that rent at normal market rates. We can bring more state money to Ann Arbor with the passage of the millage. MSHDA is enthusiastic about it and has said they will provide their expertise and matching money for any projects that meet their criteria.
Contrary to what some people say, the millage is well thought out . A great deal of effort was made to incorporate the ideas and concerns of a broad base of interested people, and the millage details are better because of this input. The Housing Trust Fund will be administered by an Advisory Committee of seven, appointed by the Mayor and Council and staffed by the Community Development Department. The Community Development Department has a fiscal manager who currently administers their 2.5 million dollar budget including an investment fund that is with a local lender. They are qualified to administer this fund.
The millage represents a public-private partnership between the city and developers and will increase our stock of affordable housing. I urge you to actively support it. Join the Friends of the Housing Millage!
C. Many families in Ann Arbor are able to find adequate housing within their means at market prices because Ann Arbor is a fairly wealthy community. While Council has approved housing developments at a greater rate this past year than any time in the last decade, most of this housing will not be affordable to those with low or moderate incomes. Changes in tax laws imply higher rents in the future. It is important to remember that 57% of Ann Arbor's population rents and that only one-third of these renters are students. All renters are not students or transients.
Maintaining existing housing and increasing the supply of affordable housing are two steps we can take to preserve and expand the economic and social diversity of Ann Arbor that is so important to us.
The federal government has traditionally recognized the importance of housing to people by subsidizing housing for homeowners through the income tax system. This subsidy to anyone who is buying a home is one of the largest federal tax subsidies. VA, FHA loans, the GI bill and Homestead Act are further examples of government interest in subsidizing housing.
To maintain our housing stock in Ann Arbor we need a good housing code that is uniformly enforced. For two years I have served on the Housing Code Revision Committee (which I created) to make this happen. We are progressing. When housing is allowed to deteriorate it becomes expensive to fix up and is sometimes lost as housing.
The federal government has been retreating from financial responsibility for public housing in recent years. Public housing is an important capital asset of out city and houses some of our neediest families (primarily women and children as well as seniors and handicappers). Democratic leadership on Council has made improving conditions in public housing a priority. We have infused General Fund and Community development money into rehabilitating housing and tenant services. The city as a landlord has a moral responsibility to comply with our own codes. A plan to bring all public housing up to code has been developed and will be funded by council in the near future.
To expand our housing stock we are working on the S.R.O., we are also establishing a bi-partisan dialogue with the U-M to encourage them to build more student housing. Council has also supported the Non-Profit Housing Development Corporation ($188,000 worth) to create more housing. Some of us are also working hard to support the Housing Millage which will create a minimum of 300 units of housing affordable to people at 60% or less of the median income in Ann Arbor.
In sum, we are moving on many fronts in this area. Space limitations prevent me from describing even more initiatives.
Phil Spear. "I regret that I cannot meet the publishing deadline of AGENDA. As you might know, campaign demands often outstrip the time it takes to do them. I applaud AGENDA'S coverage of the election."