Ann Arbor voters will chose a new mayor this year but the changes won’t necessarily stop there. Three of Ann Arbor’s 5 wards have contested Democratic Primaries for council seats. The first ward race pits incumbent Sumi Kailasapathy against challenger Don Adams Junior.
As Sumi Kailasapathy seeks a second term on City Council she’s heard clearly that the top concern of residents is roads, roads, roads. That includes both the condition of the city streets and a desire for increased traffic enforcement and calming.
Kailasapathy believes the city can afford desired quality of life services by making it a greater priority, “I think it’s kind of re-directing resources from marketing Ann Arbor to actually making Ann Arbor wonderful for the current residents."
Challenger Don Adams Junior agrees the roads are in horrible shape and traffic calming measures are needed. Part of the reason he’s running however is concern that Kailasapahty’s vote on the building currently under construction at 413 Huron could have left the city with less money to pay for important services, “I understand making a statement and making a voter are 2 different things. So some people made their statement as a vote for it not to go up. If it didn’t go up they would have sued the city.”
Adams doesn’t like the project at Huron and Division but thinks it would have been built no matter the vote because the proposal met city requirements.
He plans to consider each issue on a case by case basis and avoid becoming part of either of the groups that have divided council in recent years. Adams is disappointed with efforts that could put public resources behind a park on top of the Library Lot, “Parks still need attention. Yes we are park rich, they do try to keep up. Instead of putting a downtown park there at the current time, specifically a downtown park, I would love to have seen money go into the community and the parks.”
Kailasapathy wants to continue efforts for a more transparent and accountable city government. She believes this should include greater diversity on board and commission appointments, “The debates within these committees and commissions lack the rigor that we would want. Opposing ideas clashing and then the idea that comes out of it is always better than an idea that’s not challenged.”
Changes in tax increment financing the Downtown Development Authority can collect is an area where Kailasapathy thinks she was successful in creating greater transparency in her first term.
No Republican is running for the first ward council seat so the primary winner will likely be unopposed in November.