Ann Arbor Area Community News
Coming tomorrow are the responses we’ve received for Ann Arbor’s 2nd Ward, 15th District Court Judge, and County Sheriff.
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)
Vivienne Armentrout: I have already commented on this issue extensively on Arbor Update (especially see #238 on http://arborupdate.com/article/1642/public-forum-proposed-court-police-facility
I have opposed this solution to the need for the 15th District court relocation since late 2007 and especially since March 2008 when the scheme for making the bond payments was revealed. I do not consider it to be realistic. To explain why would take too much space. Council will not be able to stop the project now though it could make other important ancillary decisions, such as whether to add on bells and whistles and parking structures.
Carsten Hohnke: Now that construction of the municipal center is moving forward, we should be proactive about ensuring that it becomes an environmentally friendly, inviting public space that we can be proud of, and doesn’t incur cost overruns. Council should provide vigilant oversight and ensure that construction happens in a timely manner and within budget. Just as importantly, Council should actively engage citizen participation in the remainder of the design process and in conversations about how to maximize public use of the space. For example, Council should ensure that space is available for public meetings and activities, and consider the inclusion of space for informational and cultural displays and performances.
2. What will you do to ensure that Ann Arbor has sufficient affordable housing? (Question from Chuck Warpehoski)
Vivienne Armentrout: “Affordable housing” means many things to many people, from supportive housing for the homeless to “my kids can’t afford to live here”. I support both the ongoing efforts to provide housing for the most needy (with a special salute to Avalon Housing) and also a restraint on increasing fees for basic services; this last makes Ann Arbor less affordable for many lower to mid-income people, including homeowners.
Carsten Hohnke: I support the recommendations of the Blueprint to End Homelessness and will work collaboratively with the county, non-profit organizations, and the private sector to bring 500 additional units of supportive, affordable (<= 30% of Area Median Income) housing to our community. To that end, I agree with the majority decision of the Council to provide $250,000 to the Joint Integrated Funding project in the current fiscal year, and I will support the establishment of a local voucher program that can quickly provide an initial, diverse stock of existing, renovated, and newly constructed units. Additionally, I believe we must replace the 100 units of very low-income, single-adult residences formerly provided by the YMCA. Finally, we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that affordable housing is one component of affordable living. I’ll work to expand low-cost, sustainable transportation options for our community, as well as the carefully considered economic development that will strengthen our base of independent, local jobs.
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)
Vivienne Armentrout: I support promotion of nonmotorized transportation and maintenance or expansion of our current bus service. See my website, http://armentroutforcouncil.org/, for my vision of this.
Carsten Hohnke: I’ll support a three-pronged effort to expand our non-motorized transportation infrastructure, pursue new rail and alternative transportation options, and promote an increase in residential density. Non-motorized transportation should be a growing portion of the mix of transportation, as it adds significant value to a community through increased health and safety, decreased air and noise pollution, and relieving pressure on land use for parking. I’ll support the expansion of “complete streets” that provide for pleasant and safe bicycling and walking, and partnering with the DDA to support go!passes and the downtown infrastructure necessary to promote bicycling (bike lockers, for example). I’ll also support efforts for Ann Arbor to take a leading regional role in securing the capital and operating funds for a north-south commuter rail, as well as cooperate with SEMCOG to support an east-west rail. Finally, I’ll support careful, but steady steps towards increasing the residential density that ultimately reduces the vehicle miles traveled required to live, work, shop and play in our community.
4. How will you work within the local foodshed to ensure food security and affordability for our city? (Question from TeacherPatti)
Vivienne Armentrout: This is a special concern of mine. I was recently involved in the successful effort to restore some funds to Project Grow. I also serve on the Food System Economic Partnership Leadership Team, a 5-county effort to bring producers and consumers together. On that group, I have been advocating for encouragement of food crops for local consumption rather than only commodity crops that go into international markets. I support full funding and assistance to our community gardens (Project Grow) and the new focus on the Greenbelt Advisory Board on “emerging farms” (they have been buying mostly farmland devoted to commodity crops).
Carsten Hohnke: As a community we should recognize that locally grown food has numerous benefits over importing food through mass distribution networks. Locally grown food ensures that a greater portion of food dollars remains within the community, tends to taste better, requires less transportation energy, generally contain less pesticides and herbicides, and is less vulnerable to disruption. I’ll support maximizing the resources of the Open Space and Parkland Preservation Millage for preserving agricultural land, finding opportunities to strengthen the Ann Arbor Farmer’s Market’s infrastructure and programming, and exploring the use of suitable, underutilized city-owned property for community gardening. Finally, I would advocate for the DDA to support, potentially through collaboration with Think Local First, an educational initiative aimed at promoting locally grown food to downtown visitors, residents and businesses.
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)
Vivienne Armentrout: I assume that all people serving on council are doing the best that they can according to their own views. I know that they work hard. I don’t agree with many of the decisions they have made, including the city hall plan, and I am running to help set a new direction for Ann Arbor. Again, see my website for more detail.
Carsten Hohnke: Mixed. I believe the Council mishandled the roll-out and implementation of the sidewalk replacement program, and failed to provide sensible building height limits that would have provided clarity around a shared vision for our downtown. However, I applaud the Council for moving forward with important capital improvements to our water and wastewater systems, providing $250,000 in additional human services funding for supportive, affordable housing, and for invigorating arts and culture by passing the Percent for Art Ordinance. More importantly, if elected, I would work during the next two years to actively engage citizens in conversations about Ann Arbor’s future, to improve delivery of affordable, high-quality services to our neighborhoods, to build consensus toward expanding our sustainable transportation infrastructure, and to put ourselves on a more environmentally sustainable footing for the future.
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