Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

ArborUpdate Voter Guide: Ann Arbor Ward 3--Stephen Kunselman vs Christopher Taylor

28. July 2008 • Chuck Warpehoski
Email this article

Here’s the second installment in the Arbor Update voter guide featuring 2 candidates for Ann Arbor’s third ward city council race, Stephen Kunselman and Christopher Taylor

1. Do you support the proposed court-policy facility, as currently planned? What role do you see for Council now that it is underway? (Edited version of question from Eric)

Stephen Kunselman: Yes, I support the City court-police facility; however, I prefer continuing a partnership with the County on space sharing with a separate, but jointly owned, City/County Judicial Center with construction of a smaller addition on the east side of City Hall for city departments. Nevertheless, the political will is not supportive of that initiative. My role as a Council member is to ensure the design and construction of the new facility fulfills the needs of the community within reasonable cost.

Christopher Taylor: We have a decrepit police station and the statutory duty to provide a district court system, with the very real danger that we will lose our current space. Although imperfect, the proposed Police/Courts building is, I believe, the most practical solution to very real, imminent problems.

Going forward it is Council’s obligation to ensure that the building comes in at or under budget. Council’s oversight must be relentless, for this is a considerable project and improper management could materially harm the City’s fiscal health.

2. What will you do to ensure that Ann Arbor has sufficient affordable housing? (Question from Chuck Warpehoski)

Stephen Kunselman: I have as a council member, and will continue as a councilmember, to support the creation of greater housing opportunities downtown to create a competitive housing market that provides for a wider range of affordable housing opportunities in our community. The City alone does not have the financial wherewithal to subsidize affordable housing to any meaningful result.

Christopher Taylor: I don’t think we can actually – we haven’t the resources to fix the problem. We must, however, do our best. I will work to provide developers with incentives to create much needed affordable housing and do my best to ensure that that housing where appropriate is linked with necessary services. Ann Arbor is all too often the government of last resort in the realm of human/social services; it is our civic obligation to do all we can to assist the neediest among us.

3. What will you do to ensure a healthy community where people can live, work, shop and play without depending on their car? (Question from Chuck Warpehoski)

Stephen Kunselman: I have as a council member, and will continue as a council member, support efforts to have more residents living downtown to create urban vitality where people can work, shop, and play without having to depend on a car.

Christopher Taylor: I will support access to and provision of public transportation as well as resources for non-motorized transport. I believe that the answer to this question too links with downtown development and density. I heartily favor both, but believe that to have an vibrant, walkable city we must also have reasonable height limits so as to ensure that future development recognizes both economic reality and the need to preserve our City’s character.

4. How will you work within the local foodshed to ensure food security and affordability for our city? (Question from TeacherPatti)

Stephen Kunselman: The ultimate food security and affordability for a citizen is having the ability to raise one’s own food. As a council member, I have been the strongest advocate for a citizen’s basic fundamental right to raise their own food and will continue to do so.

Christopher Taylor: I believe that integrated solutions best serve at-risk populations and so although this is obviously a foundational issue, I would work with current providers and services professionals to determine what broad assistance the City can provide or facilitate to bring stability to otherwise insecure members of our community.

5. What is your opinion of the performance of the Mayor and City council over the past 2 years? (Edited version of question from Mark Koroi)

Stephen Kunselman: As a newly elected council member in 2006, I have enjoyed working with my council colleagues even when we have different opinions. I believe we have done well considering the economic and social challenges we face.

Christopher Taylor: The Mayor has been in office for eight years. During that time, the City of Ann Arbor managed to reduce its workforce and maintain a high level of service, two deeds that help make it a bright spot in Michigan. I lay a good deal of the credit for these achievements at the Mayor’s feet. He also, years before it gained currency, has pushed the City to utilize renewable energy sources and helped solidify Ann Arbor’s status as an environmental leader.

I believe that the City Council has during the past few years too often played politics with votes and fallen to bickering – both hurt our City’s reputation and damage our political culture. I don’t expect everyone to agree, but I do expect City leaders to treat allies and opponents, citizens and staff with courtesy and respect. I will.

  1. The Ward 3 debate as aired on CTN is available on Google Video.

       —Matt Hampel    Jul. 29 '08 - 07:39AM    #
  2. Here is the endorsement statement of Stephen Kunselman from the Progressives of Washtenaw (POW!), written by Dana Barton:

    POW! endorsed one of Stephen Kunselman’s opponents in his first race for council in the 3rd Ward two years ago. However, POW! enthusiastically endorses him this election cycle.

    Stephen Kunselman is a breath of fresh air on City Council. While the “veteran” council members often vote in lock-step on most issues, Steve is not afraid to challenge the majority. POW! respects that he is willing to take unpopular stands and pay the price of sometimes being ridiculed by his own colleagues. Such was the case when he proposed that Ann Arbor citizens have the right to keep two hens in their back yards for fresh egg laying purposes. The uproar was palpable. And, a lesser person might have caved into the political pressure. But, Steve stood by his principles and the constituency that asked him to bring this measure forward. And, finally, with community support, he prevailed. POW! applauds his courage!

    While POW! doesn’t always agree with Kunselman’s positions on issues, we do endorse his stands on transparency in government, the need for downtown affordable housing, the importance of preserving funding for parkland maintenance and his strong support of keeping recreational opportunities affordable for all Ann Arbor families.

    Here’s to you, Chicken Man!

    (Dana Barton is looking forward to having two hens in the backyard and fresh eggs for her omelets.)

       —David Cahill    Aug. 2 '08 - 04:08PM    #
  3. Kunselman has lost in a landslide.

       —Mark Koroi    Aug. 6 '08 - 07:35PM    #