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, the Ward 1 debate here, and the Ward 3 debate here.
Today I will cover the Ward 5 debate
This was an extremely low key and actually boring exchange between the two candidates.
There are two candidates running for the council seat in ward 5.
Mike Anglin (D) DINO Democrat in name only
Tom Partridge (I) says he is a Democrat
Questions/Issues consisted of:
- What is you Platform?
- Position on rail…Connector and rail between A2, DTW and Detroit
- What would you do to ensure that the city remains a great place to raise small children?
- Effectiveness of the Ann Arbor crosswalk ordinance?
- Updating infrastructure in Ann Arbor
- Do you support increased growth in downtown; do you support a limiting of the DDA’s revenue income?
I am not going to comment on any of Tom Partridge’s statements. He is a write-in candidate who runs for any office, no matter the office, just to get attention. He speaks at every public hearing at council and other commission meetings and does not stay on topic. His speech at those hearings and somewhat in this debate is laced with conspiracy theories, name calling, and accusations. Every now and then, Partridge says something really relevant and pertinent to an issue. However, he drowns himself out with all the unnecessary speaking and conspiracy talk such that it gets ignored. This is the only space I am going to devote to him as a candidate.
Anglin was the typical conservative sounding candidate. He thinks the role of government is to only supply public safety, infrastructure and parks/recreational facilities. He is anti-train, anti-growth, and wants to have a city center such as a park on the library lot. He said that we need to maintain what we have, we are in a state of containment, and to not keep looking for large projects that we can ill afford.
On rail, Anglin thinks that until the public buys into the bus, they won’t buy into the train. That is so wrong IMO. There are so many different factors why people chose a train over a bus. Anyone who has lived on the east coast can tell you that commuters prefer the train because it is more dependable. There are no traffic holdups to put it behind schedule. The bus is at the mercy of the congested roads. The one thing that will affect train usage is the price of the ticket however. A bus ticket will always be cheaper than a train ticket.
Also, a bus and train really do not have the same function. Yes, they are both modes of transportation, but the primary use is different for each group of users. Buses tend to go where trains cannot (into neighborhoods), while trains tend to go from a station to where the employment centers are located. They really don’t have the same purpose. The bus is used by local commuters and for general transportation around the local area. Commuters from outside the local area will mostly use the train. Comparing the value of a train vs. the value a bus is really comparing apples to oranges
In the downtown Anglin wants to see more rentals, he is not in favor of condos or student housing and thinks we need rentals for middle class people. He wants a good mix so that we can make a downtown neighborhood. Huh? There already is a downtown neighborhood. The people who live there now make up the current neighborhood and that includes those condo owners and students who Anglin think’s don’t belong. A neighborhood is defined by a group of people, who live near one another in a particular area, not by the TYPE of people who YOU want to live next door to you. I took his comment as somewhat provincial. Those types of people don’t belong here, only his type of people belong. What ever happened to diversity? Yes, the current neighborhood that exists can modify and change, but to see that a neighborhood doesn’t exist yet, without people like him, is just plain wrong.
On the question that asked, “What would you do to ensure that the city remains a great place to raise small children?” he gave a similar answer to Kunselman. He said that we need to support the schools and the after school rec programs. He even made comments about bringing kids in to school at the age of four. This is all well and good, except for the fact that the Ann Arbor Public Schools has their own school board that is not connected to the city council whatsoever. Kind of misleading in that he can’t affect anything pertaining to schools.
Then he went on to make comments about the after school rec programs and how we need more of them. He must know about the great Rec&Ed programs3 that the City of Ann Arbor and AAPS currently offer; he said he was a coach? Here is the link to the Rec&Ed website. The city helps fund the Rec&Ed program2 with an in-kind donation but there is still a fee involved for those who take the classes. Anglin spoke to the economics of the costs for these classes and wants to help with the “need” for these classes; not everyone can afford them. What? Is he saying he wants the city to pay for all these recreational classes? What happened to the government should only supply safety services, infrastructure and parks and recreational facilities? So much for just supporting the basics, huh?
As I said in the ward 2 debate post about Lumm, Anglin is cherry picking out his favorite pet project, but won’t fund any transportation initiative because he doesn’t like them. I guess basic services are what you want them to be. Transportation projects are out of the reach of government, but Rec&Ed programs are right in line with fiscal management. Government a la Carte, anyone? The Teabublicans in congress suggested funding the government this way, in a piecemeal fashion, and cherry picking out their favorite programs for funding while ignoring the programs they don’t like.3 Anglin is sounding a lot like them now.
As for the crosswalk ordinance, Anglin appears to forget that the State of Michigan motor vehicle code already had a crosswalk ordinance in it. He says that Ann Arbor’s ordinance puts too much pressure on the driver. All of our accidents recently, were not due to the Ann Arbor ordinance that says a driver must stop for a pedestrian APPROACHING a crosswalk. The State of Michigan motor vehicle code says you have to stop for pedestrians IN a crosswalk. The recent pedestrian accidents happened while the pedestrian was IN the crosswalk. They violated the state ordinance not the city ordinance. Even if you repel the Ann Arbor ordinance completely, we still have a problem in that drivers don’t stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk. City council can’t find a solution for that problem until they recognize what the actual problem is. Sabra Briere said it exactly right in her debate that I posted on here. She said it is not an enforcement issue but a human behavior issue. I
Lastly, I would like to comment on Anglin’s statement about how we should not go after large infrastructure projects that we can ill afford. Really? Large infrastructure projects take many, many years to propose and construct. If we waited for the dire need to arise, it would take way too long to implement. These projects will consist of current infrastructure that we currently have but need replacing/upgrading and new innovative ideas that are coming in the future. Should we wait for the sewage treatment plant to break down before planning to update it? It is not like we can fix it overnight if something major goes wrong. Does the public want to resort to using outhouses while we fix a catastrophic fail of the system? His is a ridiculous statement. Everyone knows, things happen unexpectedly, not when you want them to, and you should have a plan in place for the future possibilities and not just for what exist now. Should we wait until our expressways and local roads are so clogged with traffic that they resemble the beltway in Washington DC before we even start considering any new type of public transportation? Our expressways are at capacity and parking is tight in the city. Rail is the direction the state is going in and we should follow suit. The question is not if we will need rail, but actually when.
Government can and should do many things at once. It can maintain current needs and plan for future needs. When other government entities are planning and implementing those plans for future infrastructure, we can either join in or be left behind. The commuter rail and high-speed rail plans are being implemented now by the State of Michigan. Anglin may personally disagree with the concept of rail travel, but he shouldn’t force the residents of Ann Arbor to live in his idealized past, when the future is becoming the present.
I am not in favor of Anglin’s ‘live for today’ attitude in regards to transportation and other infrastructure projects ….or maybe that’s really ‘a live in the past’ attitude. I prefer to remember yesterday, live for today, and plan for tomorrow.
non bonum electio
2 Rec&Ed website: Although for nearly 50 years Rec&Ed was funded through the schools and the city, currently support for our department comes mainly from program fees and donations. We wouldn’t exist, however, without the “in-kind” help we receive from both the Ann Arbor Public Schools and the City of Ann Arbor. They are what make us a public institution.