Ann Arbor Area Community News
About 25 people met tonight to discuss the process of replacing Kim Groome on City Council and to talk to two people interested in filling the seat – Bill Hanson (former Director of the Washtenaw Land Trust) and Tim Colenback (Assistant Dean, UM School of Social Work). Jennifer Hall, Chair of the Planning Commission, had also announced interest, but is currently out of the country, and there are hopes of a better publicized “meet the candidates” meeting with all three once Groome’s resignation is official.
Council must fill vacant seats by a vote of remaining Council members within 30 days of the vacancy occurring; Mayor Hieftje stated that this would probably happen with Council interviewing candidates, publicly, at a Council Work Session (off-Mondays from Council Meetings), and then voting at the following Council meeting.
The two interested candidates present, Hanson and Colenback, then introduced themselves and took questions for an hour and half.
Hanson introduced himself with a criticism of the Calthorpe visioning workshop, but stated that, “despite attempts to stack it with pro-development people,” the “common people” showed up and demanded a full-scale greenway. If put on Council, he’d “immediately work, from day one, to put a park on 1st and William,” he said, since the current Council has done nothing in support of such a greenway. Most of Hanson’s statements included direct attacks on Council, on the Planning Commission, or on “transients”. “If I have to choose between residents and taxpayers or students, I’ll choose residents,” he said in answer to a question on residential permit parking. In general, his tone was not that of somebody who was trying to get Council to select him, but that of somebody who wanted to use the process as a soapbox to preach from.
Colenbeck was less aggressive, laying out a four-point test for judging new development (though stating that Tower Plaza Condominiums and University Towers were out of scale and definitely shouldn’t have been approved); claiming a need to personally study the arguments around using 1st/William, 415 W. Washington, and the North Main City Yard as all parkland versus some combination of uses before taking action; and stating concern for examining the impact of residential permit parking on everyone affected.
Recent Council candidate Eugene Kang joked that he was the “de facto student spokesperson”, and asked how students could be engaged and included in the local process. Colenback stated that “Democrats especially should be looking to be inclusive,” and wondered about moving the primary elections to sometime during the school year. Hanson, continuing to not make any friends on Council, claimed the problem with Kang’s campaign was that, as a “real Democrat”, he wasn’t a part of “the City Council Party”, where people are welcomed based on getting along, and not on what ideas they have.
Since the real decision seems to be between Colenback and Hall, it’s unfortunate that this meeting was held while Jennifer is out of the country. We’ll publicize any future meetings with the candidates and the schedule for the Council process once it is known.
Edit, 9 Aug, 11am: As of yesterday, Groome has resigned and left the state for a new home outside of Princeton, NJ. 30 days to appointing a successor begin sometime between yesterday, when she left, and when her snail mail resignation reaches Council and is officially accepted.
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