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Ann Arbor News endorses city council candidates

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This Sunday, the Ann Arbor News endorsed city council candidates in Wards 1, 2, and 3.

To represent Ward 1, the Ann Arbor News recommended Democratic incumbent Sabra Briere over independent challenger Jeff Hayner. Mixed Use Party candidate Jaclyn Vresics is also on the ballot, but has suspended her campaign.

In the Ward 2 contest, the newspaper endorsed independent incumbent Jane Lumm over both her challengers, Democrat Kirk Westphal and Mixed Use Party candidate Conrad Brown.

Democratic incumbent Stephen Kunselman earned the paper's nod over challenger Sam DeVarti of the Mixed Use Party in Ward 3.

The paper's editorial board cited Briere's sponsoring of the city’s citizen participation ordinance, crafting of ordinances to regulate the city's medical marijuana facilities, and "her insistence that the city and its employees see residents as their customers" in its decision. It also pointed out that, while it agreed with Hayner that "the city has been too slow to review its downtown zoning regulations," Briere has responded by introducing a resolution to do just that.

So far, the paper has only published one letter to the editor about the race. It supported Hayner.

While the Ann Arbor News thought that both Lumm and Westphal would serve their wards and the city well if elected, the paper favored Lumm because of her efforts to keep the city's finances in line, such as addressing its $86 million unfunded pension liability. It also cited her concern about basic services, such as staffing the police department and seeing that the fire department meets national standards.

Meanwhile, the paper agreed with Westphal's criticisms of Lumm, including her voting against both a high-rise development that was allowed by the zoning code and matching funds to study a new train station. That latter action earned Lumm a comparison to the Tea Party politicians in Troy who also rejected a train station in their city.

The News dismissed Conrad Brown as inexperienced, and took a dig at him for missing two appointments for interviews.

The paper also published five letters to the editor about the contest this week, indicating high levels of interest in the candidates. Three of them supported Lumm while two, including one by former council member Tony Dereziinski, were in favor of Westphal. Two weeks ago, the paper compiled three letters in support of Lumm into a single article.

The paper, which had also endorsed Kunselman for the primary, praised him for his leadership and attention to issues like blight, infrastructure, and police and fire department staffing.

Like they had for Brown, the News dismissed DeVarti as inexperienced and added that he was not "well versed on all the issues facing the city."

So far, the paper has not published any letters supporting either of the candidates.

The paper issued no endorsements in the contests for Wards 4 and 5, where only one candidate is on the ballot. In Ward 4, that is Democrat Jack Eaton, who defeated incumbent Marcia Higgins in the primary. The Ann Arbor News had endorsed Higgins in that contest. In Ward 5, it is incumbent Democrat Mike Anglin, who was unopposed in the primary.

Both candidates face write-in candidates. William Lockwood is challenging Eaton, while Anglin is fending off two, Tom Partridge and Chip Smith.

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