Though he faced no challenger, mayor John Hieftje lost the August Democratic primary. With Sumi Kailasapathy and Sally Hart Petersen defeating "council party" candidates in the First and Second wards, along with the election of the arguably independent Chuck Warpehoski in Ward Five, voters returned only Hieftje loyalist Margie Teall in Ward Four--and her just barely, by eighteen votes over second-time challenger Jack Eaton. With current council members Sabra Briere, Mike Anglin, Steve Kunselman, and Jane Lumm already skeptical of many of the mayor's initiatives, he'll find it much harder to see through projects like a new train station.
The city's future was again shaped by a tiny handful of residents. Though there are 95,312 registered voters in Ann Arbor, just 8,348 voted in the council primaries. Yet that number could have been--and often is--even worse. In odd-numbered years, when only city races are on the primary ballot, turnout dips into the low 3,000s.
[Originally published in September, 2012.]
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