Ann Arbor's next City Council is set after this week's Democratic Primary since winners face no opposition in November. Less than 17 percent of the city's registered voters participated in Tuesday's primary. One council member thinks switching to non-partisan elections will increase the number of residents participating in selecting Ann Arbor's elected officials.
In November Ann Arbor voters will consider a charter amendment to re-establish requirements for running for office. Second Ward council member Jane Lumm pushed for the charter question and thinks a community discussion is also needed about partisan elections. The lone independent on council thinks greater diversity could result, "There's one way to really improve the elective process, make it more inclusive. I think that would be, that's an important area to address in the charter."
Primaries could still take place in August with a run-off election in November. Lumm says Ann Arbor's tradition of being a ghost town in August makes the current system particularly susceptible to a small percentage of the electorate deciding who wins city races.
In Michigan only Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and Ionia use partisan elections for city council and mayor.