League of Women Voters Candidate Debates Part 2: Uneventful Ward 1 debate

The League of Women Voters1 holds debates for candidates running for local and state offices a few weeks before each election.  This past week on October 1 and 2, debates between Ann Arbor city council candidates who are running in the November 5 general election were held.  Candidates from all the wards are asked mostly the same questions with a couple questions being more specific for their ward race. Previously, I wrote about the Ward 2 debate here.

Today I will cover the Ward 1 debate

When I first watched the debate, my reaction was that there really was no difference between these two candidates.  This debate was extremely uneventful. They sounded a lot alike in that they had the same viewpoints on most things (at least in this debate). The differences were really in how they described their position. Yet Hayner is aligned with all the Teapublicans.  That seemed strange?   And then… I went back over their responses and I found a difference that was perplexing.

CTN video coverage of Ward 1 Debate

Ann Arbor News coverage of Ward 1 debate by Ryan Stanton

There are two candidates running for the council seat in ward 1.

Sabra Briere (D) Democrat

Jeff Hayner (I)  Unsure

Questions/Issues consisted of:

  • What is you platform? 
  • Effectiveness of the Ann Arbor crosswalk ordinance.
  • Updating infrastructure in Ann Arbor
  • Do you favor a regional bus system?
  • Do you support increased growth in downtown, do you support a limiting of the DDA’s revenue income?
  • Is it a priority for you to see the border-to-border trail completed?

Both Briere and Hayner think the border-to-border trail is a priority, are in favor of a regional bus system and believe that we should update the infrastructure.  They both used different terms to justify their positions, but basically had the same position.

On the crosswalk ordinance, Hayner thought it was not working well and that we need to make it more in line with the State of Michigan motor vehicle code.  Briere said the issue was not our local ordinance, but rather that people were not following the law that is already in the State of Michigan motor vehicle code.  She said it is not an enforcement issue but a human behavior issue.

When Briere was asked about her platform she said she really didn’t have one; that she had core values that are a reflection for what she does.  She also said that she is never afraid to revisit a decision. I really liked this answer.  She was not running on an agenda of stopping something or preventing something.  She is open to new information.  I thought this was the best statement of the uneventful debate.

When Hayner was asked about his platform he said that the reason he was running is that he wanted to serve all the people of the first ward and not some partisan, personal agenda.  He kept repeating this in different ways throughout the debate.  He seemed sort of angry that Briere was a Democrat and pushed for some democratic issues.   However, we do have partisan city council elections here, so it can be no surprise that if the Democratic candidate won, then democratic issues might be prioritized.  The Congressional Teapublicans constantly bully and threaten Obama and the other Democrats in order to try and get their platform into law.  They don’t seem to get that their guy lost, and the winner, President Obama, gets to now push his agenda.  Is Hayner doing the same thing?  Does he actually think that Briere should push an agenda item of her opponent?   I guess that goes along with the thinking of the current Teapublicans who sit on council regarding the Mayoral appointments.  They want him to appoint people who think more like them and not the Mayor.

As I said earlier most of his positions appear to be the same as Briere’s (at least in this debate), so what is he referring to?  I get the feeling that maybe he really is not so pro-bus, or pro-border-to-border trail, but wants you to think he is because these are popular issues.  Rather he is in favor of these things, but with the caveat that we need to invest wisely, which I think means after every pothole is filled.  Remember Sisyphus from the ward 2 debate2? Hayner’s statements just sound like contradictions to me.  At least the other Teapublicans just flat out say no to all discretionary items.

On the issue of growth in the downtown, Briere said she would limit the DDA revenue and also supports limiting growth downtown.  However Hayner did not really take a direct position on the question.  To summarize what he said, he thinks that growth is inevitable and we need to come into agreement as a community how much investment we need to put into the downtown.  He never said if he was for or against growth or the DDA TIF cap that is being discussed.

I thought this was strange, so I went to his website and there was not any sort of position on the downtown or the DDA on his list of issues except to mention ‘measured growth’ with no explanation attached to it.  hhmmm…I didn’t know what to make of this.  His talking points are laced with all the same buzz words as the other Teapublicans on Council…provide basic services first, prudent spending, yadda, yadda, yadda….but he differs on the downtown issues?   The other Teapublicans are vehemently opposed to development and the DDA? I wonder if all the Teapublican council members who have been throwing money at him realize this?  Anti-development/anti-growth is one of the mantras of our Ann Arbor Tepublicans.  It’s puzzling.

All candidates who run do not have to completely fit into one of the sides that have formed on council.  Candidates within the same party can differ on specific issues regularly.   However, the Hayner disconnect seems weird because he is not as consistent with his statements as the other Teapublicans.  Although, Hayner might not be ant-growth or anti-downtown development (who really knows what he is for), he contradicts his stances on transit and the border-to-border trail when he throws in all the Teabulican buzzwords such as funding basic services first, restrained spending on non-essential projects, talk of safety services etc.  It is confusing to me and makes me not trust him.  He is for everything in theory, but only if we can pay for them and won’t specify how to pay for them. I can’t figure out where he actually stands.

Now Briere does not always vote the way I would prefer on some issues.  I certainly don’t like how she sometimes plays both sides of an issue; she plays the political “I was for it, before I was against it” card a bit too often.  However, Hayner is too big of a risk.  Briere is the better choice out of the two candidates.

Ultima Ratio



1 League of Women Voters

2In Greek mythology Sisyphus was a king of Ephyra (now known as Corinth) punished for chronic deceitfulness by being compelled to roll an immense boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down, and to repeat this action forever.



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