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 6 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 and the Ward 1 debate here.
Today I will cover the Ward 3 debate
In this debate it sure seemed like the Mixed-Use Party candidate was the Democrat while the Democratic candidate was a DINO.
There are two candidates running for the council seat in ward 3.
Stephen Kunselman (D) DINO Democrat in name only
Sam Devarti (I) Mixed-Use Party
Questions/Issues consisted of:
- What is you Platform?
- What would you do to clean up Ann Arbor’s visual appearance particularly coming in from the highways?
- Do you favor a regional bus system?
- What would you do to ensure that the city remains a great place to raise small children?
- Thoughts regarding ethics policy for elected officials.
- Updating infrastructure in Ann Arbor
- What innovation would you like to bring into Ann Arbor
Stephen Kunselman is running as the Democrat for ward 3 city council. However there is very little that appears to be progressive or liberal about him. He is part of the Teapublican Caucus2 that currently sits on city council. He is against countywide transit. He would bring no innovations into the city because he thinks no “gimmicks” will improve the city. He says he is running on a platform of public trust and he works towards a greater ethic in government. I will get more into this topic about ethics later.
First off, I take issue with the word “gimmick”. Are all new innovations in society gimmicks? Really? Are you that out of touch? You are asked for a type of innovation that you support. It is a visionary question. Your answer shows that you are not forward thinking in regards to possibility, but rather only think about the present and the past. Were you one of those people in the 1980’s who couldn’t comprehend what the TV connected to the typewriter was all about? Was that a gimmick? In the late 1990’s when people were talking about hand held computers that everyone would carry around in their pockets, did you think that was a pipe dream? A leader stays apprised about the potential of the future and acts when appropriate. A fast follower waits to see what leaders do and copies their inspiration. You Mr. Kunselman are a fast follower and not a leader. Such a disappointing answer to something that was so easy.
For the question about regarding cleaning up the entrances to the city, Kunselman also gave a subpar answer. He talked about clutter and how the way finding signs in the downtown were ancient technology; everyone now has a smartphone with a map. Really signs are ancient technology? What a silly statement. If you live here, the signs might be unnecessary for your use, but we are a town that has a large visitor population. The signs are very useful for the visitors, even visitors with smartphones. Signs are not clutter, but informational tools. I realize that there is a conservative movement to dumb down society so that they can win elections, but taking away informational signs is going a little too far.
True story: I had some out-of-town relatives meet me at a restaurant downtown a couple years ago when the signs were first installed. My sister-in-law came into the restaurant and the first thing she said was “ I really like those new directional signs, now I can find where I am going downtown.” Not only did she notice the signs, but she also liked them!
Devarti on the other hand gave answers that were right out of the Democratic playbook. He is for the environment and wants to prevent urban sprawl. He is passionate about human services and affordable housing. He is for public transportation and wants to take cars off the roads. He is for the Allen Creek Greenway. He actually made the comment that the city is doing a good job currently repairing roads (which I agree with). His idea for innovation was a greenbelt and referred to the zoning changes of the mixed-use party. Although Ann Arbor already has a greenbelt (he didn’t seem to know), the zoning changes are different and would be a dramatic change for the city. Although I disagree with many of the zoning changes, at least Devarti had an answer that talked about innovation.
If I had not seen the party labels and went into this debate listening for progressive, democratic ideals, Devarti would make me think he was the Democrat. But Devarti chose to align himself with the Mixed-Use Party? This gives me pause because you are the company you keep at times. Maybe it is a party of convenience only for now and he will be a real Democrat sometime in the future.
On the question that asked, “What would you do to ensure that the city remains a great place to raise small children?” both candidates gave strange answers. First Kunselman referred to the loss of rec programs in the parks and schools that used to exist. Does he not know about the great Rec/Ed programs3 that the City of Ann Arbor and AAPS currently offer? Here is the link. He longs for the past that is actually here in the present? Go figure? Maybe there were some other classes back in the day he was referring to, but nevertheless there are plenty of rec/ed classes and activities offered today in the parks and at the schools.
On that same question, Devarti spoke to preserving the character of a neighborhood. Preserving? What does that mean in regards to children? Does he mean that neighborhoods are good for children but a non-neighborhood isn’t? Does he mean that neighborhoods are disappearing? Or does he mean that as time passes neighborhoods are changing with the times and that is bad? This seems strange because a neighborhood is defined by a group of people who live near one another in a particular area. That area can be anywhere, a downtown, within an apartment building, a block of single-family homes etc. He is using buzzwords that make no sense in regards to the question.
Now here is my dilemma. We have a candidate who sounds like a Democrat but is linked to the Mixed-use Party which leans libertarian. The other choice is a so-called Democratic candidate (DINO) who is actually a Tea party conservative. I was originally going to just refrain from making any statement in regards to who is the better candidate. However after, Monday night’s October 7, 2013 performance by Kunselman at the City Council meeting, I have to say that he is an embarrassment to the city.
Kunselman claims to run on a platform of ethics and public trust. Maybe he should listen to his own rhetoric. It is not ethical to purposely ridicule and mock anyone in the manner that he did. It was completely unethical, appalling, and conduct unbecoming of an elected official. I was disgusted as I am sure many of you were also. Kunselman has gotten way too cocky for my taste and believes he is untouchable.
Since I don’t want to endorse a wild-card (Devarti) because I am not sure about all his stances on issues due to his party affiliation, I am going to go out on a limb here and do something different.
I am going to give an ANTI-ENDORSEMENT for Steve Kunselman. He does not deserve to sit on our city council. His actions and statements have gotten increasingly inappropriate and unethical at the council table and he does not represent the ideals of the party he claims to be a member of. I want him to NOT win.
2 The Ann Arbor City Council Teapublican Caucus is made up the following councilmemebrs: Mike Anglin, Stephen Kunselman, Sumi Kailasapathy, Jane Lumm, and Sally Peterson. (Based on his campaign platform and rhetoric, I assume Jack Eaton will be welcomed into this group once he takes office in November.)