As a self-described conservative Republican, Albert Howard ran almost-invisible campaigns for president in 2008 and for the U.S. Senate in 2010. Last year, the pastor of the Ann Arbor Different Church ran on a nonpartisan ballot for Ann Arbor school board. He got just 3.4 percent of the vote.
This year, Howard is running for mayor as an independent. He declined to be interviewed in person, consenting only to answer questions by email. Asked why he wants to be mayor, Howard responded that he's running by "Divine Order," after having a vision of "[Mayor] Hieftje ... as Pharaoh." If elected, he writes, he'll declare a "moratorium on all building projects including bus & train stations & library" and "bring AAPD and AAFD back up to national safety standards."
None of the politicians the Observer spoke to expects Howard to hit even 30 percent. They predict that John Hieftje will easily win a seventh term, surpassing Bill Brown (1947-1956) as the longest serving mayor in Ann Arbor's history.
"I want to see the city get through the worst financial crisis since the thirties," Hieftje says. "I'm optimistic but cautious that we've turned the corner. The city is in a solid budget position, and if we can get next year's budget under our belts, we can grow a little.