tl;dr: vote for Christopher Taylor, who is good on many things, isn't really responsible for the road issues since he's in a state that's #46 in road spending, and isn't a ludicrous BANANA*.
Please, please, please vote in this election. Consider it a donation to the site. If you're not already registered in Ann Arbor you have until July 9th to do so. If you're a student consider voting absentee: the reason your rent is so damn high is largely because students turn out for local elections in dismal numbers. Even 20% turnout from students would decisively and permanently re-orient AA politics away from homeowner dominance.
This has been "Brian shouts into the void for a paragraph." Anyway.
*["Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone"]
Taylor's running for his second term after taking over for long-term mayor John Hieftje and is more or less a vote for Ann Arbor to continue in the same direction it's taken over the past 15 years. Development is generally encouraged in the downtown area and certain corridors around the city.
Taylor isn't ideal. Under his leadership the city spends some time and money on questionable activities, the foremost of which is a downright weird proposal to build a train station in Fuller Park*. That hypothetical station is near nothing except UM Hospital and would turn a big chunk of Ann Arbor parkland into a parking deck seemingly designed for the hospital, especially since the regional RTA millage and subsequent commuter rail from Detroit failed in 2016 and will not be on the ballot in 2018.
The city also spends a chunk of money on climate change when the only meaningful action cities can take is to reconfigure themselves so that people don't have to drive as much. The climate stuff is a subset of the usual strain of virtuous-seeming but ultimately silly policies that most small lefty cities undertake. (Your author was burned by that earlier this year when he went to Wolverine Brewing for the Loyola-Chicago Final Four game only to find out that the closed captioning, which the city mandated a couple years ago for all public TVs, was directly over the basket. Any deaf people also at Wolverine were no doubt equally livid.) Some recent public art that consists of metal stapled to a bridge seemingly at random is a particularly goofy expenditure.
And, yes, all of the rabbling about Ann Arbor's roads is a tiny bit justified because of those expenditures. However, those are dwarfed by already extant road spending, which is an eight-digit affair annually. Ann Arbor's road failures are largely a function of state spending. 82% of Michigan roads were rated poor or fair by the American Society of Civil Engineers; the state road system got a D-. Ann Arbor is at ~62%** and has a plan to get that down to 20% over the next eight years; they've been addressing the issue since 2014. The city just unanimously voted to add $4.3 million in road spending from cash reserves. There is no real difference in road policy between the anti and council parties, and no quick fix for cash-starved infrastructure.
Meanwhile, to live in a city in the midst of a housing crisis that is forcing out huge swathes of the next generation of Ann Arborites so that high net worth seniors in paid-off homes can avoid minor inconveniences in their lives means there is only one issue to vote on: development. And while Taylor has the odd habit of wondering just who is going to live in new apartments in a town with a 2% vacancy rate, he and his allies on council have continued to approve large buildings people can live in while Eaton and his allies vote against them.
Valid critiques of Taylor's approach come from the left and YIMBY territory. Ann Arbor's zoning is still highly restrictive, includes parking minimums, and has failed to chuck every student rental in an expanded downtown area. Baby steps are not sufficient to address the housing crisis, and that's largely what we've gotten. None of this matters because of his opponent.
*[I'm omitting the time and money spent putting together the "Treeline" plan for a 3-mile path through downtown since that passes unanimously when it comes up. For the record, I find the Treeline about as baffling as the train station. In both cases the city is hoping to get something for nothing, or close to it. The federal government will hypothetically pay 80% of the cost for a new train station and the city government isn't budgeting any money towards implementing the Treeline; they're hoping to get private donations.]
**[Those two articles don't use the same scales, unfortunately, so that is an estimate. 82% of Michigan roads score from 1 to 5 on the PASER rating scale. The Ann Arbor-specific article has a grouping for 1-3 and one from 4-6. I assumed a third of the roads in that category (28%) were rated 6.]
[After THE JUMP: A Person who is Not Recommended.]