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Ann Arbor City Council incumbents face slate of anti-high-rise challengers

Ann Arbor skyline
goodfreephotos / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0
The issue of high-rise development in downtown Ann Arbor is dividing Democrats running for city council seats.

The primary election Tuesday could make a big difference in Ann Arbor's skyline — as well as its future.

The election pits two kinds of Democrats against each other: those who want to slow down the city's growth, especially when it comes to new high-rise development, and those who say continued growth is necessary.
Mayor Christopher Taylor supports the pro-growth candidates. He says if he had his druthers, he'd keep Ann Arbor the way it is. But the city's revenues aren't keeping pace with infrastructure and other needs.

"We're going to need to grow," he says. "That's just a matter of math."

Some of the challengers would prefer a park on top of the city's underground parking structure next to the library, instead of the 17-story high-rise that is now planned. They say city residents should have been permitted to vote on what to do with the lot. They criticize the high-rise plan as a bad deal, in part because it includes the city parting with a large number of downtown parking spaces.

Taylor has endorsed Zachary Ackerman and Chip Smith, both incumbents, as well as Jason Frenzel, who was appointed by the current council to his seat in December. Taylor declined to make an endorsement for or against incumbent Jack Eaton, who is politically aligned with the challengers.

Ackerman, who represents the 3rd Ward, is being challenged by Stephen Kunselman, a past four-term city council representative of the ward.

Anne Bannister, a former president of the Ann Arbor Democratic Party, is challenging Jason Frenzel for the 1st Ward seat.

The 4th Ward representative Jack Eaton is facing a challenge from Jaime Magiera, a  University of Michigan systems administrator. Councilman Chip Smith faces a challenge in the 5th Ward from David Silkworth, who describes himself as a lifelong Democrat.


Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.