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September 04, 1986 - Image 49

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1986-09-04

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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'U' students are apathetic to Ann Arbor politics

Though they live in Ann Arbor
during eight months of the year,
University students take little interest
in city politics.
"I just don't care very much about
Ann Arbor politics," explained LSA
junior Chris Pagac.
The low participation reflects more
than apathy towards politics in
general, according to Herb Katz of the
city clerk's office. "Students vote
much less in city elections than in
either state or federal elections," he
Even issues of interest to students
- such as proposals to raise the
penalty for posession of marijuana,

and issuing a statement against U.S.
involvement in Central America -
have not greatly increased the student
vote, he said.
Reasons vary. One factor is the in-
convience of registering to vote. "I
would have to change my registration
from my hometown and I would
rather vote there," explained LSA
sophomore Ritu Sani. He added that
he doesn't want to risk being called
for jury duty.
Students decide elections
Despite low turnouts, students have
a history of deciding close elections.
Ann Arbor elections are highly par-
tisan, with registration in the two
political parties very close. Three of

Democrats control

the five city council races last year
were decided by less than a hundred
votes. Students make up a third of the
city's population.
Candidates realizing the importan-
ce of tapping into a potenially
significant group of voters, such as
students, have stepped up efforts
recently to gain their support.
When Seth Hirshorn, a Democratic
candidate in the second ward initiated
a voter registration drive in Markley
dormitory, he succeeded in more than
doubling the number of votes in the
dorm from the year before. Although
the 77 votes cast by Markley residents
was a small proportion of the students
living in Hirshorn's district, it was
ity Council
controversy on the council. This year
the parties clashed over a bond issue
to generate road repair funds.
Republicans preferred the money to
come out of the city's general funds,
rather than adding another tax.
Democrats attribute much of their
recent success to strong constituent
contact. "The Democratic caucus has
been very active, while the
Republicans have played more of a
role of nay-sayers to Democratic
proposals," Peterson said.
"I suspect they're getting more
organized now," Councilmember
Richard Deem (R-Second Ward) said
of the Democrats.

Ann Arbor is a Democratic town
when it comes to national and state
elections, but until recently the city
has been dominated by Republican
mayors and city councilmembers. In
1985, Ann Arbor elected its first
*Democratic mayor since the 1950s,
and the Democrats gained their first
majority on council in fifteen years; a
majority that was increased to a 7-4
margin in last April's elections.
The Democrats' renewed influence
has brought to the surface some of the
philosophical differences between the
two parties in the council.
The Democrats have used their

Social services battled
The Democrats and Republicans
have always locked horns over spen-
ding on social and human services,
particularly affordable housing.
While the Democrats favor such ser-
vices, the cost-conscious Republicans
think the city should "stay out of the
housing business," as Deem put it.
After two years of discussion, the
Democrats finally allocated $200,000
in this year's budget to be matched
with federal government funds for
a new housing project. No site has
been chosen, but a decision will be
made in the next few months.
Roads are another frequent cause of

'The student vote in Ann Arbor is very
important, even though it's small.'
-Jeff Whiting
LSA senior

almost twice his 40 vote win over his
Hirshorn also drew campaign help
from students, who registered voters,
designed and printed campaign
posters, and canvassed in dorms and
other heavily-student-populated
"The student vote in Ann Arbor is
very important, even though it's
small," said LSA senior Jeff Whiting,
who worked in Hirshorn's campaign.
Candidates attract conservatives
While the vast majority of the
student vote has gone to Democrats,
Republicans have begun going after
more conservative student voters.
When Republican Councilwoman
Jeanette Middleton voted in favor of
allowing the Collegiate Sorosis
sorority to expand their house, it
brought her an estimated 200 votes
from "Greeks" in her ward.
Growing conservative interest in
local issues was also evident in a let-
ter written to the Daily by the editor of
the conservative campus publication,

the Michigan Review. Seth Klukoff
criticized conservative students for
being concerned only with national
politics, and noted that the
Republicans' poor showing in last
year's city elections may have been
avoided if more conservative students
Student participation increasing
In general there seems to be an up-
swing in student involvement in city
politics, though it remains small. Ac-
cording to the city clerk's office, there
has been an increase in wards where
candidates such as Hirshorn, Mid-
dleton, and fourth ward Democratic
candidate Dave DeVarti have gone af-
ter student votes.
Not all students, however, vote for
ideological or politically-partisan
reasons. "I live here eight months a
year and pay property tax through my
rent. I want to have a say in what
happens in Ann Arbor," said LSA
junior Jeff Wilkins.
Wilkins' view is held by many st-
udents, especially those who rent off-

campus housing and come into con-
tact with the city government more
One interest to students is the city's
housing office which is supposed to in-
spect rental housing. The housing of-
fice has been criticized by the Ann
Arbor Tenant's Union, which lobbies
the city for tenant's rights, for the in-
frequency and quality of its inspec-
University law student Eric
Schnaufer, a member of the tenant's
union, said, "the inspection is being
improved but they need to hire more
inspectors." He added that the city of-
ten does not cite houses for rental
violations. A house at 708 Kingsley St.,
for example, was not cited for
violations before the tenant's union
lobbied the housing board's appeals
committee. The house was later cited
for 122 violations.
The tenant's union also put forth a
proposal on the city's ballot in 1985
which eventually forced the city's
landlords to insulate their houses.
Student voters also noted their use
of other city services, ranging from
parking rates to the city's public
schools for their children.
Fridays in The Daily


..' l

new-found strength to tighten to reins
on potential land development in the
city, initiate plans for a low income
housing project, and push through in-
creases in social service spending in
Conflict On Development
Their views on how to handle poten-
tial city development projects is a t
major rift. The Republicans have
strived to encourage development,
while Democrats have been more
cautious in allowing growth. For in-
stance, a major conference center
proposed for the downtown area was
axed by the Democratic majority,
who feared the center would create
overwhelming traffic and parking
problems. r1'A" (-5
"The Democrats (on the council)
are committed to keeping some small
town flavor of Ann Arbor, and I think
that's what people want," said Dave
DeVarti, chairman of the Ann Arbor
Democratic Party.
The Republicans see the rrrre . . irrrrir a
Democrats' hesitation to promote
development as a threat to the city's - Reflections on Bei
economic roth mmer,RepublicansAchieving Beauty Through Edu
became enraged when Democratic
Mayor Edward Pierce moved to / C * Color analysis
dissolve the Downtown Development )V S Skin care and nr
Authority (DDA), which uses tax f ClGasses in nutri
dollars to fund parking structures andj weight manager
other improvements in the city. Some shionidenty
felt that without the DDA projects, Wardrobe Pan
development downtown would die. The TOybOX Special one-day
"Without this kind of support (the workshops tailor
DDA offers) we're going to have a Uonlocked, for yourorganiza
slum downtown," said Deem, who or group.
feared abolishing the DDA would Unique Handcrafted Toys I
discourage developers from coming 407 N Fifth Avenue
to Ann Arbor. (Upstairs at Kerrytown) Sandi Mackrill, Image Con
Ann Arbor, MI 48104 Kerrytown " 2nd Floor " Ani
International stances (313) 769-1133 (313)994-4424 " (313)449-4
Another sticky spot among coun-
cilmembers is council involvement in
international politics. In the past
Democrats have often proposed
resolutins dealing with global issues, m arb iehe
which Republicans feel are not within
the city's jurisdiction.
For instance, Democrats supported
an initiative last year to send annual
letters to world leaders to com-
memorate the atomic bombings of
Nagasaki and Hiroshima, and to urge
the curtailment of another nuclear at-
tack. IOI
Several councilmembers objected AT KERRYTOWN
to the idea, saying it was not the city's
domain. "There's not much room for A romantic corner
ideology at the city level. It's a very of old world charm.
basic kind of thing that you're doing Omelettes, quiches, pastries, .,
on the city council - taking care of espresso coffee and more.
everyday needs. We should leave the To make a da A Kerrytown Shop (Ups
Department," Deem said. beautiful ... .
One thing that has particularly
irked Republicans is the pressure
Democrats have put on the city's pen-
sion board to divest its financial rekfa$st,
holdings in South Africa, an action lunch
which the city itself has alreadyU U
taken. Pierce said he would remove. r
any of the appointees on the board
who did not support divestment. d$$$$
Republican councilmembers called brek.
the tactic heavy-handed and dic-
tatorial. hV
Hahn said the pension funds are
"not city monies to be dealt with in a smthngr
political manner. Those are monies of
the city employees." d$licio$
"The Democrats are trying to dic-
tate how (the pension board) will per- for ou, "the restaurant"
form its duties. I see the Democraticlcad inthe
majority usurping the involvement westside; offers
that the community has through the seasonal delights
various boards and commissions in inavarietof

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