Ann Arbor Local Politics! Council Races! Feel The Hits! Comment Count

Brian July 28th, 2018 at 1:40 PM

tl;dr vote for Ron Ginyard in Ward 1, Kirk Westphal in Ward 2, Julie Grand in Ward 3, Graydon Krapohl in Ward 4, and Chuck Warpehoski in Ward 5.

With the exception of Ginyard in Ward 1 this is a straight council-party ticket that returns the four incumbents to office. (Ginyard is a rotating question mark.) I recommend this for the same reason that I recommend Christopher Taylor's re-election: the future of the city is either a lot of growth or becoming San Francisco. And, really, you don't need to read this one unless you need to know exactly what variety of clownshoes is up against the incumbents in each particular ward.

More generally, the anti party is deeply unserious about the nitty-gritty of running a local government. They vote against by-right developments. Sumi Kalispathy on the water rates:

Kailasapathy, D-1st Ward, suggested students who live in luxury apartments might be incentivized to leave their faucets running if they know they're paying a lower water rate.

This unseriousness is reflected in their candidates. Bannister is already infamous for her many addled statements—my favorite:

And hoo boy they unearthed some dingers this time.

Ward by ward stuff is after the jump but with the exception of Ward 1, which features a ghost versus a nutcase, things get very repetitive as I say "this is an incumbent council party person who mostly votes for development" and "uh... bless your heart." Be warned. I did try to keep this as brief as possible.

[After THE JUMP: ward by ward.]


This is an open seat contested by a cipher with no concrete goals and the worst person in Ann Arbor. Ron Ginyard is the cipher. He's a political neophyte who hasn't bothered to vote since moving back to town four years ago and has no concrete ideas on his website. Judging from his appearance at a candidate forum he'd probably be a legitimate swing vote affiliated with neither side but leaning council party.

His opponent is Jeff Hayner, an ICE fan (row 561), "SJW"-deployer (row 4987 and 5 others), MLive ban-sufferer (row 284) and coffee-dad-level hashtagger…

…who shows up to city council meetings to yell at people. His politics is incoherent furious nonsense. This was made obvious by his twitter feed, which had so many bombshells in it that Hayner tried to delete everything in it and finally gave up, taking it private. This was too late.

Hayner is not just a NIMBY...

...he is a BANANA.

His one redeeming quality is that he's never tried to cloak his opposition to building housing by saying that he would like some other financially infeasible thing on a surface parking lot. Hayner is very clear that he cares about nothing other than himself and various Hayner-alikes who show up to protest a dense housing development within walking distance of the hospital because it "only" has 0.9 parking spots per apartment and he might be slightly inconvenienced when he tries to park on the city's street. As a bonus, he has also been captured by Dahlmann.

It's hard to imagine an Ann Arbor resident who is more ill-suited to city council.

One other candidate of note is Ryan Hughes, who is running as an DSA-affiliated independent. He is likely doomed by the nonsense that is partisan local elections since the number of straight ticket Dem voters in Ann Arbor will overwhelm people paying attention to local races—especially this November—but he both has stated political positions and cares about people; the other two candidates check only one box.


Kirk Westphal is a council party member on the correct side of all those 7-4 votes. He says things that indicate he grasps the challenge facing the city and wants to address it...

In a growing job market, if you don't/can't build new construction for the missing middle, AND don't allow market rate construction, you're left with the wealthy displacing those currently occupying middle-income housing, or demo/rebuilding their structures into something they feel suitable. What is frustrating is the lack of focus on policy prescriptions, and heavy dose of "just stop until we figure this all out" (which no desirable city has).

...and I appreciate that he can describe the effect of AA's current policies lucidly. He is a remarkably calm person on social media. He also supports ranked choice voting, which yes please.

Kathy Griswold is his opponent. Griswold has spent a bizarre amount of time over the past few years leading the opposition to various ballot initiatives. She's opposed four separate millages and Ann Arbor's move to eliminate single-digit-turnout off-year elections. Given that these efforts appear to be funded primarily by existing landlords like the guy who owns McKinley and the city's good friend Dennis Dahlmann, my assumption is she is engaged by these people to front for them when a tax that would cut into their bottom line makes the ballot. (Eliminating off year elections threatens Jane Lumm, an independent and anti.) Naturally, she would represent their interests if elected to council.

This goes for Eaton as well, who received donations from the McKinley guy and only did not get them from Dahlmann this time around because the Y-Lot quid pro quo became controversial. The "greedy developers" meme is extremely frustrating because guys who have developed, past-tense, who are just trying to keep rents sky-high get a pass from people who hate change.


Julie Grand, council party, 7-4, etc. obviously frustrated by some of the dim bulbs on the other side of the aisle and makes that publicly known. This is a valuable service in these dire times when expertise, intelligence, and the ability to spell your name correctly in two tries are apparently no longer requirements for public office. I treasure her open disdain for the goofballs who don't do the reading.

In addition, Grand understands how to work the levers of government. She and a couple of housing commission members were able to scrape together several different sources of funding to rebuild some of Ann Arbor's existing housing stock.

Alice Liberson, Grand's opponent, then attacked Grand's housing bonafides in a post on WEMU's website:

At the recent League of Women Voters debate, my opponent said if the sale of the library lot to Core Spaces goes through, we will have 5 million dollars for affordable housing, and could create 200 to 500 units of affordable housing.  Really?  That’s $10,000 to $25,000 per unit.  If this is true, why are they willing to pay Core Spaces 1.5 million dollars for nine units of housing, or $162,000 per unit.  Someone needs to check their math. 

Okay. Of the $18.3 million being spent on the rebuild, approximately 15 comes from the federal government. Another 900k comes from the county. Ann Arbor has a 450k grant and then there is 1.9 million dollars that is unclear because it's just listed as a "loan." That's either 8k or 42k of city money per unit; I am just spitballing here but it's clear that Grand's aware that small local dollars can be spun into large federal grants. Liberson is not. Liberson's post has several other errors, and is particularly ironic because her complaints that Ann Arbor doesn't have a newspaper are paired with various assertions that MLive's solid local reporting clearly refutes.


Graydon Krapohl: incumbent, 7-4 votes, very very bald, former Marine. Krapohl is pretty quiet and doesn't do a lot on the internet so there's not much else to say. Details of his tenure can be found on Ann Arbor Votes, a non-partisan site. Downside: email address.

Elizabeth Nelson was a hurried replacement for Joseph Hood, who dropped out after a disastrous early candidate forum and revelations that he was—gasp—a Republican. Unfortunately, this vetting job didn't go any better. Nelson sent fake city notices to a neighbor who hadn't painted their garage door; those only stopped when the neighbors filed a police report. This was Nelson's comment to Ryan Stanton:

"All I can say is people who know me understand this is the kind of silly thing I would do," the candidate said this week. "It became kind of a fun challenge to see how real I could make it look."

The NIMBYiest of all crimes.

Nelson's website is filled with the usual dogwhistles about "million-dollar condos" and "more taxes and more millages"; the latter is particularly disingenuous because city tax rates are going down. She suddenly appeared on the scene to exhort city council not to buy back the Y Lot because "years of litigation" would ensue; approximately a week of litigation ensued before a settlement. Hard pass.


Chuck Warpehoski: incumbent, 7-4 votes, Quaker(!), director of a local nonprofit. A 2016 Daily endorsement covers the basics if you would like an article-length discussion of Warpehoski's priorities. I think it says something about something that the very worst thing the Eaton faction could come up with about Warpehoski is that he correctly pointed out that several of the people furious about the Lowertown development were advocating for a PUD*, and several years before the very same people were at council advocating against the proposed PUD. This as spun as "question[ing] the integrity" of those people. I'd characterize it more as pointing out their lack thereof.

Ali Ramlawi does have a bit of a track record after running unsuccessfully for the other Ward 5 seat, currently held by Chip Smith, last year. Ramlawi's 2017 campaign was summed up ably by Chris Dzombak, to the point where I have nothing more to add. I mean:

"We should be a better city," Ramlawi said. "I think we should be the city that I fell in love with back in 1985. It's not the same now."

This is impossible and also would be harmful to lots of people. But at least he doesn't do NIMBY crimes.

*[Planned Unit Development, which is a zoning variance tailored to a specific building proposal. A previous failed attempt to develop the Lowertown site got a PUD passed so any other development more or less had to be 1) the exact same thing that failed earlier or 2) rezoned.]

Did you get through this? Here's a cookie.


Decatur Jack

July 28th, 2018 at 11:16 PM ^

How do I put this in the most delicate, respectful way?

Ok, here goes:

Based on your response the last time people raised complaints about a political post (or podcast), that being "This is my blog; I can do whatever the f**k I want" (despite the "no politics" rule you yourself instated), I can only assume that there will be more political posts in the future, and that we should expect such. Which is one reason why my interest in this site has significantly declined.

Honest feedback. Do with it what you will.


July 29th, 2018 at 12:29 PM ^

Here's a big connection of this to Michigan sports.....

Bill Martin, who owns First Martin Corporation in Ann Arbor and was the AD who botched the coaching search mightily in 2008 causing Michigan football to enter a 10 year down period, is a big campaign donor for the anti-development individuals on City Council and running for it(obviously protecting his own interests and fucking everyone else over in the process).

A vote for growth is a vote against the guy who messed up Michigan Football the last 10 years.


July 29th, 2018 at 1:22 PM ^

Ok, I'm guessing you tried to get your comment close to the top so you didn't have to read all the others?

Solid strategy, do it all the time! 

So let me sum up the gist for you: 

It's Brian's blog. Brian DOES live in Ann Arbor. Brian cares. Brian does NOT care whether you like that or not. A2 is NOT polarized politically, as this nation is. This was about Dem candidates in a primary election. Therefore no one will be flaming or threatening any other poster in these comments. 

THOSE are the type of political debates this blog forbids, and banishes violators. 

Hope that cleared it up?


July 29th, 2018 at 10:42 PM ^

The problem is San Francisco is that its population has exploded but it housing base can't keep up because wealthy long time residents have pressured city government to oppose most new construction, leading to some of the highest housing prices in the nation. It has nothing to do with partisan politics. 

It's Always Marcia

July 29th, 2018 at 9:51 AM ^

It must mean politics he likes are ok. Politics he doesn't like not ok. It seems especially true when the kneeling thing comes up, even though most that disagree with the kneeling are not disagree based on politics. They are disagreeing because they don't want to see politics when they are watching football. That whole issue is a cluster mess.


July 29th, 2018 at 5:49 PM ^

I don't agree with Brian on much of anything politically and don't live in Ann Arbor. I was able to look at the headline for this post and realize that it was a topic that was Not Sports, not of specific relevance to me and probably contained opinions with which I'd disagree.

I made the decision to read it anyway, because I'm interested in the general topic of municipal planning and development (and frankly enjoy the schadenfreude of watching the progressive Left slap-fights over the inevitable results of giving petty apparatchiks too much power over private property in the name of social engineering.)

However, had I decided to pass this article by it wouldn't have affected my enjoyment of SPORTS CONTENT here in the slightest. There's no reason that couldn't be the same for you. That's my honest feedback in return.


July 28th, 2018 at 2:10 PM ^

Wow, I've been a political junkie since about age 7 but, without any background on the issues mentioned, that is the biggest steaming pile of dung ever to have made an appearance on the blog.

Shop Smart Sho…

July 28th, 2018 at 3:02 PM ^

I have a question that I'm most interested in reading your answer to.

Why is it that you spend so much time, relatively speaking, in the comment sections of the local politics posts? I remember when you used to jump in on a rather regular basis and interact with the commenters. Is it because these are more interesting for you and the football stuff has become a bit rote? 


July 28th, 2018 at 3:15 PM ^

I read a fair few of them but it's not often I feel compelled to respond since I've already laid out my POV in the post itself, especially in the offseason. I tend to reply to a lot of UFR comments since people are pointing out errors or I feel like I need to defend my work sometimes. UVs and recruiting profiles not so much. 

Shop Smart Sho…

July 28th, 2018 at 3:35 PM ^

Fair enough. Thanks for replying.

Also, just ban the assholes who have nothing better to do than click on this post to complain that it exists.

And if you're still reading, would you please consider having the MGoPoints line under comments moved up to fit between the Joined date and the upvote/downvote icons?

Go Blue Eyes

July 28th, 2018 at 3:22 PM ^

I believe your 5th Ward endorsement should have gone to Ali Ramlawi.  As someone who actively worked in numerous campaigns and had regular interactions with multiple candidates/elected officials when I lived in California, I can say with a certainty that Ali is one of the very few genuine "politicians" out there.  And I use the term politician loosely as Ali is someone who cares about Ann Arbor and if you look at his website he does offer some great ideas for Ann Arbor. 

I don't live in Ann Arbor but I visit enough and graduated from UM so there is still a strong bond to the city and to me, Ali would make a great councilman.


July 28th, 2018 at 3:42 PM ^

I just can't support someone who clearly doesn't want even downtown development. It's one thing to not want your neighboorhood upzoned, that's understandable even if I think it's ultimately a bad thing.

Ramlawi has consistently complained about putting a big building in a narrow mid-block lot on top of a parking structure designed to hold a big building. Anyone who wants a plaza the city has to pay for right next to another plaza instead of a slightly smaller privately funded plaza and a bunch of hotel rooms, office space, retail, and condos that should produce 2 million in taxes every year should not be on council. 

This remains the definitive piece on the economics of the Library Lot:…


July 28th, 2018 at 6:06 PM ^

 This isn't all NIMBYism. I like your link but would also suggest everyone read the first comment. The Council is notorious for making bad deals. They're going to give away a bunch of parking spaces essentially for free.  Personally, I would not be opposed to something other than a plaza there. I just don't think these council members are smart enough (business-wise) to make the right choice 


July 28th, 2018 at 8:43 PM ^

That keeps coming up and is completely untrue. The spaces are being rented 24/7 at 125% of the current hourly rate. The net present value of that is $24 million, which is more than it takes to expand the Ann-Ashley deck by three floors and replace all of that parking. 


July 28th, 2018 at 2:30 PM ^

Appreciate the insight even if it's a city I no longer live in, because it's still a city I will always love and care about.

I get the idea and intent behind the 'no politics' stricture and have seen why and how it devolves into shitshow threads.  Oh hell, I know I have - to my discredit - even been myself slightly guilty of being part of said shitshows at times.  And so have many of y'all.

But c'mon - this is local politics and it has a non-zero ripple effect on the town where our university is located so it's not exactly off-topic.  And since 90% of us have little idea who the people mentioned are, you'd have to look through this with some really concave lenses to view this specific post as an inflammatory proxy for inflammatory 'values wars'  (Unless you're Jack Eaton, I guess.)


July 28th, 2018 at 5:28 PM ^

This is a great comment.  I view "No Politics" as "no flaming along national party lines which inarguably results in incivility."

Local politics need to be discussed.  Especially in a town that will always vote Democrat and especially in a town we all care about.

I am one of those UM students that has turned into an Ann Arbor resident.  7 years post-grad going on 8.  I agree with Brian's pro-development stance.  Particularly the Library Lot issue.  It seems abhorrent to me that there's a chance the library lot could be forced to house a downtown park (which would cost the city millions) as opposed to allowing the already city council approved development of a building that supplied public plaza, commercial, hotel and residential units.  It needs to happen. 

NIMBYs need to accept that change needs to happen and be less selfish, lest we turn into a place where even the cheapest apartments inside the US23/M14/I94 loop cost more than any middle-class employee can afford.


August 5th, 2018 at 10:46 PM ^

Exactly. It isn't even like he's making partisan endorsements for UM regent or something. Ann Arbor is an effective one party city, the issues impacting the city are very localized and don't compare to national, state, or even county issues. You could make a case for development as a conservative Republican and a case for NIMBYism as a left wing Democrat. It would be quite hard to get into too much of a flame war between city council factions (although Sumi used to be my councilperson and I HATE her intensely and, were she standing, would flame the hell out of her). 

No matter who wins on Tuesday, the A2 council will represent a left plank of the Democratic Party because the city demands it. They will pass meaningless measures declaring the city a sanctuary city or censoring Trump or whatever and this blog will not cover those events because it COULD develop into a flame war. 


July 28th, 2018 at 3:22 PM ^

I'm replying even though the comment wasn't addressed to me: 

The lay-out is not particularly functional or attractive. Sorry.

I can only log on by android device, not Microsoft laptop. Ergo I post about 90% less. No great loss, I know! Even though I changed my password, it still won't recognize it.

Also wanted to comment that the flwolve pro-trump comment was 86d off this thread faster than anything I've EVER seen in my 10 years visiting the blog. I'll assume because it's a topic you're closely monitoring? Not supporting him, AT ALL, but I will point out it was YOU started this thread with the political OP.


Its me Dave

July 28th, 2018 at 3:23 PM ^

Thank you for the kind offer, although I can't really tell if you're being sarcastic or not, which I guess is part of my problem.  I honestly don't know when you're writing in good faith or just trolling anymore.  Your otherwise entertaining snark seems to me to be increasingly directed towards your audience.  Sorry if that's not specific enough.