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Michigan Daily issues endorsements for city council, millage renewal

Monday morning, The Michigan Daily, the University of Michigan student newspaper, endorsed three candidates for city council and recommended a yes vote on a millage proposal.

Stephen Kunselman is the only candidate for Ann Arbor City Council endorsed by both the Ann Arbor News and the Michigan Daily.
Kunselman for Council.

The student newspaper endorsed Jeff Hayner in Ward 1, Kirk Westphal in Ward 2, and Eric Kunselman in Ward 3. It also called for a yes vote on Proposal A, a renewal of millage dedicated to the sinking fund for repairing and constructing buildings in the Ann Arbor Public Schools.

Two of these endorsements went against those of the Ann Arbor News, which published its support last week for all three incumbents seeking re-election--Sandra Briere in Ward 1, Jane Lumm in Ward 2, and Kunselman in Ward 3.

The Michigan Daily noted that it was reversing the paper's previous editorial stance of endorsing Briere, the Democratic incumbent, by supporting independent challenger Hayner. It did so because Briere "offered no solutions to increase communication with the University or better serve the needs of students" when the editorial board interviewed her. It also noted that "her views on housing may not be in the best needs of students" and and her voting record "confirmed her lack of commitment to student’s need for affordable housing."

On the other hand, Hayner earned the paper's endorsement because he "favors more student-friendly policies and recognizes that the University plays a critical role in supporting Ann Arbor’s diverse economy and population." He showed concern over the lack of affordable housing and a commitment to preserving open spaces. His "practical, budgetary goals and a sense of student needs" impressed the student editors.

Like Briere, independent incumbent Lumm failed to impress the Michigan Daily's editors because of her failure to "provide specific examples of how to improve the University’s relationship with the city." Westphal, on the other hand, expressed interest in making campus safer, earning student support, and expanding public transit beyond Ann Arbor, the last of which would help students getting jobs in Detroit or its suburbs. This impressed the editors, who gave him their nod over Lumm.

While a University of Michigan student, Conrad Brown, is actively running for the seat, the Daily did not speak highly of him, writing that his "ideas outside of mixed-use zoning are abstract and under-developed."

Democratic incumbent Kunselman, who had previously earned the Michigan Daily's endorsement in the primary, was the only candidate to have the approval of both the Ann Arbor News and the Michigan Daily. The student paper praised him for his experience, commitment to student priorities such as public safety, and advocacy of off-campus housing developments for students.

As it had for Brown, the editorial board did not think much of the other university student in the contest Sam DeVarti of the Mixed Use Party, writing "While it’s great to see that students are making a concerted effort to get involved with city council, his relative inexperience and narrow platform are cause for concern."

The paper issued no endorsements in the contests for Wards 4 and 5, where only one candidate is on the ballot, although both candidates are facing write-in candidates. In Ward 4, Democrat Jack Eaton is being challenged by an official write-in candidate in William Lockwood. He also has to contend with a joke candidate in "Twenty Pound Carp," which is waging a humorous campaign on Twitter. In Ward 5, Democratic incumbent Mike Anglin is fending off two, Tom Partridge and Chip Smith.

The paper's recommendation of a yes vote on Proposal A noted that this millage had been approved twice before, in 2004 and again in 2008. It has been used for "security upgrades and improvements in accordance with the Americans with Disability Act." The paper urged a yes vote so that these improvements could continue without having to cut resources in the district.

While the Ann Arbor News did not take an explicit stance on Proposal A, an informal poll of its readers showed 59.38% in favor, 36.72% opposed, and 4.0% undecided.

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