Ypsilanti City Council candidates to address voters tomorrow night in the Kresge Building

On Thursday evening, several candidates running for Ypsilanti City Council will be participating in a “meet and greet” sponsored by the Jaycees. The event, which I was initially led to believe would be formal a debate, is set to take place at the Mix Marketplace (200 W. Michigan Avenue). It’s scheduled to run from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM, and it’s my understanding that a majority of the candidates running in the August 7th Democratic Primary, for both the Ward 1 and Ward 3 seats, will be in attendance. The candidates running are as follows.

Ward 1
– Tyrone Bridges
– Steve Pierce
– Lois Richardson

Ward 3
– Mike Eller
– Pete Murdock
– Ted Windish

In advance of the event, the Jaycees sent out a number of questions to each of these individuals. All but Pierce and Eller responded. You can find the collected responses here.

And, here, for those of you who are interested in such things, is an exchange that I just had with David Palmer, one of the organizers of the event. (It appears with his permission.)

MARK: As I understand it, Thursday evening’s event was originally promoted by the Jaycees as a debate. From what I’m seeing now, though, it looks as though it’s being referred to as a “meet and greet.” Why was it decided to change the format?

DAVID: I don’t recall the Jaycees ever promoting the event as a “debate”, in fact I’ve tried not to use that term. It’s been promoted as a forum, and a meet & greet. If debate slipped out in a post somewhere then it was more out of habit then out of intent. People generally like to refer to these events as debates.

“Debates” are never really debates, at least in my experience.They tend to be more like panel discussions where candidates bring their people and questions get submitted to try and torpedo the other candidates in front of the crowd. In my experience few unaffiliated members of the public show up to “debates”, and they take an extremely long time to complete, which helps keep attendance numbers low.

We (Jaycees) went with the meet & greet format because we think it is important for voters to actually meet the candidates, engage in conversation, and ask direct questions. Thus, the survey was compiled from questions submitted by actual voters, and there will be an opportunity to exchange questions and ideas at the event. I only edited out the obvious duplicate questions and made corrections for minor grammar issues.

Over 400 hundred likely voters in Ward 1 and Ward 3 received post card invitations to the event last week, and several hundred people have been contacted via Facebook. I am hopeful that there will be a nice crowd.

The event opens at 6:30 PM. Copies of the survey will be made available at the door. At around 7:00 PM the presentations will begin. The Jaycees will do a welcome and a quick presentation highlighting our 75 years of public service in this community. Next each candidate will be invited to take five minutes to address the crowd. We will be distributing cards to the attendees to submit additional questions, which I will review and present after the candidates speak. When the speaking stops, the intention is for the candidates to go to their literature tables and engage the voters in small groups, or one on one.

Ted Windish, Mike Eller, Steve Pierce and Tyrone Bridges have confirmed they will attend. Pete Murdock has only said that “maybe” he will attend.

Lois Richardson declined to attend the event in favor of going to a labor union convention instead. She did not complete the survey, but instead sent a letter, which I used to answer the first survey question.

MARK: Of the questions that were sent, by the Jaycees, to each of the candidates running for City Council in Wards 1 and 3, I notice that two individuals – Steve Pierce and Mike Eller – did not respond. Did they give you a reason as to why they refused to comply with your request?

DAVID Steve Pierce and Mike Eller did not give reasons for why they did not answer the questions. I took the liberty of inserting their contact info at the end of the survey. This info was obtained from the Washtenaw County Elections website.

As far as I am aware, this is the only public event scheduled for this election. I expect reporters from the Ypsilanti Courier and AnnArbor.com to be in attendance. I’m not aware of any candidate survey sent out by either publication, so this is also likely the only candidate survey for this election as well.

No other candidates from other political affiliations will appear on the November ballot, so this is the only chance voters have to decide who represents them unless a write-in candidate files for the November election. Given the prevalence of straight-ticket voting in this area, a write-in campaign would need to be incredibly well organized to have a shot at beating the winners of the Democratic Party Primary.

As I mentioned to David after this exchange, while I disagree with him on the value of debates, as well his assertion that people don’t attend them, I very much appreciate his efforts, as well as those of the Jaycees, to get these individuals in front of voters. In an election where, at least to me, it seems as though many of the candidates are hesitant to state what they actually believe publicly, in favor of addressing people one at a time, and giving them sometimes very different answers to the same questions, I think this is a big step forward. Still, though, I would have liked to have seen a little give and take between candidates.

Speaking of campaigning without publicly stating what you believe in, have you seen Steve Pierce’s campaign website? It just says “call me.”

It might be a great strategy for winning, but, as an inquisitive voter, I find it lacking. But, there are other things in this year’s City Council race that I find more worrisome… like a certain candidate’s apparent association with a John Birch Society front group… Hopefully all of this and more will come up tomorrow night.

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  1. maryd
    Posted July 25, 2012 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

    awesome work David.

  2. dragon
    Posted July 25, 2012 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

    I notice that two individuals – Steve Pierce and Mike Eller – did not respond. Did they give you a reason as to why they refused to comply with your request?

    Just a guess, but I bet it has to do with the Jaycees longstanding ‘No Crayons’ policy.

  3. tyler w
    Posted July 26, 2012 at 5:33 am | Permalink

    Just to let everyone know David is absolutely awesome and we as a city are very lucky to have him if you see him please thank him for giving a crap

  4. Moma
    Posted July 26, 2012 at 5:48 am | Permalink

    Say what you will about the new stevepierce.com, it’s still a huge improvement over what came before.


  5. Edward
    Posted July 26, 2012 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    Will someone please videotape the proceedings? I’d love to hear what Eller has to say about his past political affiliations.

  6. Fred V
    Posted July 26, 2012 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    How do you people expect Steve to share his beliefs when, every time he does, he’s torn apart for his inconsistencies? Can you blame him? I applaud him for the way that he’s conducted this campaign and the Stop City Income Tax campaign. You people have proven that you cannot be trusted with information.

  7. MarkH
    Posted July 26, 2012 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    This event is going to be a joke. Does anyone think Eller is going to come clean about his beliefs on AIDS, gay marriage, civil rights, environmentalism, zoning, preservation, public transit, cleavage, or FDR?

    21. AIDS
    The first Politically – Protected disease.
    The Cure: Not one Dime (from Government). That would cure it in a hurry.
    Historical Justification:
    George Washington kicked homosexuals out of the Continental Army – permanently, with no possibility of re-instatement.

    20. “GAY MARRIAGE”
    There is no such thing.

    23. “Civil Rights”
    Masking as the creator of “equality” for the Black man, the “Civil Rights” movement of the 1950’s and ‘60’s was as phony as its creator: “Dr.” Martin Luther King. King, the serial adulterer, shameless plagiarist, and fellow traveler with Communist subversives, led his people, under the deceptive leadership of “equal rights”, into a greater slavery than the one they emerged from a century earlier.
    Though better off economically (some of them), as a result of Government intervention, the black man is far worse off in almost every other way – socially, psychologically, morally, and politically, than ever before.
    The America First Party extends its hand to the American Black man, admittedly wronged in the past, with the only plan and Platform for his upliftment, political edification and enlightenment, and ultimate realization of his full potential. The Democrats will keep him (the American Black man) down forever – a mental and political slave. The Republicans will do exactly the same thing, while professing the opposite. The America First Party, alone, offers him true promise and hope, for a brighter future.

    The religion of recycling, mandatory in some areas (a branch of environmentalism, and an industry far more expensive than dumping trash ever was).

    As a consequence of this proposed policy, all zoning “laws”, as well as state and federal laws, which violate private property rights, should be abolished.

    Communism is total government. Each of the items listed below are in some way related to the gradual push towards unmitigated centralized power in America. The America First Party is the only political party in Michigan that is standing against this insidious movement on every front.

    83. CLEAVAGE
    Women in ½ – dress. This is a “slippery slope”, leading to the bottom of the slope, except, perhaps, in cases where there is little or no slope. This latter could be termed the flat-chested cleavage. But: better little than nothing, right? Or is it all wrong, from the top on down?

    The Democratic Populist Caucus vigorously protests the planned Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, to be constructed on the National Mall, in Washington, D.C.

    The Detroit News, of February 26, 2006, reports that: the King Memorial is expected to be completed in time for the 40th anniversary of King’s assassination (April 4th, 1968); that it would join “10 other monuments on the Mall”; “would sit near war memorials and tributes to presidents Lincoln, Jefferson, Washington and Franklin Roosevelt”; “would be the first [memorial] not dedicated to a president or a military veteran, and the first honoring an African-American”. Congress has pledged $10 million to this project, which is expected to cost a total of $100 million.

    If a memorial must be built for King, let them remove the one already built for FDR, and place it, along with the one for King, on a separate mall, away from Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln, mark it a “mall for Traitors,” and have both be funded by liberal, pro-Communist traitors like the ones being honored. For: we are not sure whether Roosevelt’s treason at Pearl Harbor, in bringing the United States into what would become World War II, or King’s treason to the cause of race relations in the United States, which we believe he set back by 100 years, is greater.

  8. josh
    Posted July 26, 2012 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    No one was asking, but here’s my opinion:

    Ward 1 has problems. Richardson doesn’t bring anything new to the table, Bridges seems a little unprepared for the position, and Steve Pierce can’t play nice with others or even voters for that matter. If I was a Ward 1 voter I’d go with Richardson. She won’t fix anything, but she won’t cause problems or get in the way of anyone with good ideas.

    In Ward 3, so long as it’s not Eller I don’t really care who you vote for though Murdock clearly has a lot of institutional knowledge that would be missed if he lost.

  9. Arturo
    Posted July 26, 2012 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    Does Steve’s platform include reparations for the white slaves of Ypsilanti?


  10. koosh
    Posted July 26, 2012 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    Doesn’t Pierce use white slaves to power his internet company?

  11. BF
    Posted July 26, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    If I were you, I’d watch what I say about Steve. The last time you pointed out that he was less than forthcoming (with information about the SCIT campaign) he pulled the plug on your site.


  12. koosh
    Posted July 26, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    Don’t you mean his white slaves pulled the plug?

    Steve was probably sitting on his high-tech Japanese toilet.


  13. Watching Laughing.
    Posted July 28, 2012 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    It really sucks ass to see the ELLER signs popping up now, early Sat Morning.
    “DEMOCRAT” What a complete lie.
    Just look at the back of his truck, he has repeal Obama Care sticker as of lastweek. Loser.
    Right out of the Rove GOP playbook of today.
    Just say whatever it takes to try to get elected and if it doesn’t work. Oh well and move on and try some other BS. Just disgusting.


    A number went up on certain Landlord properties; so very decieving.
    Barnes and Barnes Properties-that was a given.
    A number on Forest and Ballard corner, An older landlord owns those properties.

  14. josh
    Posted July 28, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    What is the connection between Eller and Barnes and Barnes?

  15. Posted July 28, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    Corrections and clarifications: “stevepierce.com” is not the website for Steve Pierce’s council run. The website is “votepierce.com.” Mark was incorrect. The website for Mike Eller, by the way, is “www.mikeellerforypsi.com.” You can find their respective positions there, including answers submitted to the League of Woman Voters, etc. (at least the positions relevant to city administration). Please note, that when I checked, the Pierce site had been recently hacked, so you might have to try back later.

    For completeness: Tyrone Bridges can be found at http://www.tyronebridges.com. Lois does not show a website on her literature, but can be contacted at loiserich@hotmail.com. Pete Murdock is at votemurdock.com. Ted Windish has no site, but can be contacted at tedypsimich@yahoo.com.

  16. Watching Laughing
    Posted July 28, 2012 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

    Barnes and Barnes Apartments are right wing GOP Cheerleaders.
    always displaying GOP candidate signs on their properties.
    Bouchard for Senate signs against the DEM.
    Rocky Rock(something against the DEM in the Senate.
    Anybody GOP in between.
    And anti Tax issues, etc etc.
    Eller is not a Democrat; so they will vote for him.
    Eller (FAR RIGHT WING) is closest thing to a Republican for them to vote for.
    SIGNS Showing BIG SUPPORT on the Ypsi Streets.

    Hedger Breed the Ypsi Landlord with multiple properties plasters anti tax and GOP Candidates all over his properties also, Rob Steele Republican against Dingell.
    Just looks like BIG support in Ypsi.

    Like the HUGE McKinley Properties in Ann Arbor; that plaster signs all over their multiple properties for Republican Candidates.
    And Anti Tax issues etc etc.
    Just looks like HUGE support.


  17. Watching Laughing
    Posted July 28, 2012 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

    Forgot Fink for Judge signs also. He’s a right winger.


  18. Redleg
    Posted July 29, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    I wish the powers-that-be inside the Washtenaw Democratic party would bring Eller to task….. Like Mark said earlier: Let’s see just how OK he’d be with an Obama poster in that store front window of his.

  19. A. Nony Mouse
    Posted July 29, 2012 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

    Any interest in a post on the Ypsi Township elections, Mark? I’m not a fan of the incumbents, but the smarmy neoliberal-technocratic-“Democratic” YTown Future candidates seem ripe for a takedown.

  20. MarkH
    Posted July 30, 2012 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    One of my neighbors has an Eller sign.

    She’s the head of the Fly Children’s Art Center. I can’t believe the head of this organization endorses Eller. It makes me sick.

  21. Mr. X
    Posted July 30, 2012 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    Do you mean Katie Whitehouse, or Ruth Marks? Ruth was the head, but she moved away. If there’s a sign in the yard, it much be from one of the renters. Katie is the present head. I’d be surprised if she supported Eller.

  22. MarkH
    Posted July 30, 2012 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    It’s Katie’s house.

    You should talk to her.

  23. Elf
    Posted July 30, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    As shocked as I am, it’s a free world, and I’d hate it if the shoe were on the other foot, and someone were out there, thinking poorly of an organization because its director believed in equal rights, social security, and the like. The main thing is, Fly does good work for kids, regardless of what she might believe. Also, it’s possible that she rents the home and the sign belongs to the owner.

  24. Watching Laughing.
    Posted July 30, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    Isn’t Ruth Marks married to the VG kids owner?

    Am I thinking of the wrong Ruth Marks?


  25. Josh
    Posted July 30, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    I can’t find anyone named whitehouse who owns property in the city. I think we should probably give anyone with an eller sign in front of their house the benefit of the doubt until we have evidence to the contrary. Markh, maybe you should be the one to have that conversation with your neighbor?

  26. Mr. X
    Posted July 30, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    I suspect it’s the landlord. And, yes, Ruth is the wife of James “VG Kids” Marks. They moved to California, at which point Katie took over the non-profit.

  27. Watching Laughing.
    Posted July 30, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    And VG KIDS, the business?



  28. MarkH
    Posted July 30, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    There is a sign at Katie’s house on Garland. Whitehouse is her married name. The house is still listed under her maiden name.

    I did try and talk to her, but she said Eller was a nice man, blah, blah, blah. I couldn’t get through to her. I was hoping someone closer to her could talk some sense into her.

    Fly is a great nonprofit. Seeing their executive director support Eller is sad.

  29. maryd
    Posted July 30, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    Wow…how do you spell “Blacklist”? Listening but not Laughing

  30. Dan
    Posted July 30, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

    A. Nony Mouse,

    I’m pretty sure the “YTown Future” group have no shot at election. The vast majority of people I know in the township are happy with the way Stumbo et al. got us (at least to this point) out of the recession without any drastic service cuts or tax increases. Can’t really ask for more out of the elected leaders int he township, given what is going on in the adjacent communities.

    “YTown Future” hasnt really presented anything of substance, other than creating a DDA. We dont have a downtown, so wth?

  31. Watching Laughing.
    Posted July 30, 2012 at 6:48 pm | Permalink



  32. Posted July 30, 2012 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

    Eller presents himself as fiscally conservative, but, as we know, that’s not the whole picture. I talked with Katie, and she appreciated the background.

    For what it’s worth, I told her that, regardless of who she was voting for, I was still going to support Fly, host the September 8 fundraiser, etc. But I also told her that Mike has a history, and that I’d be happy to talk with her about it, if she wanted… She did.

  33. Posted July 31, 2012 at 12:24 am | Permalink

    “I did try and talk to her, but she said Eller was a nice man, blah, blah, blah. I couldn’t get through to her. I was hoping someone closer to her could talk some sense into her.”

    Umm, this NEVER happened. I have never had a conversation with ANYONE until today about my support of this candidate, who I only just met a week or two when he came to my door. When I met Eller and heard his platform it sounded reasonable. I had NO IDEA that he was formerly affiliated with AFP, and would NEVER knowingly endorse anyone with racist or anti-gay views. I really would have appreciated if this neighbor actually HAD approached me, rather than have an extensive conversation about me in a blog behind my back. In light of my informative conversation with Mark Maynard, I will NOT be supporting Eller for City Council. Not only am I disappointed in myself for having accepted his platform at face value without researching his past more carefully, in Eller himself for being so manipulative, but now I am also disappointed to find out that the friendly neighborhood that I thought I lived in really isn’t. Thanks, Mark, for giving me the benefit of the doubt, and taking the time to make sure I had all of the facts rather than passing judgement so quickly and so publicly.

  34. Fly Supporter
    Posted July 31, 2012 at 6:14 am | Permalink

    Glad to hear this Katie as I was truly rethinking my support for FLY. I even thought about calling Ruth. More people need to get informed about Eller
    but with no real newspaper this is tough.

  35. Posted July 31, 2012 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    Thanks so much for your support! I am really worried that folks, UNKNOWINGLY, like myself, may not know what kind of candidate they are supporting! I posted on my facebook page about Eller’s involvement with AFP and my surprise at finding this out, and was troubled to discover that I was not the only one who was ignorant of his checkered past. My neighbor on the corner also has signs up for Eller, and her grand-daughter is gay. I’m sure she has NO IDEA…I will talk to her today. I am really grateful that rather than making snap judgments about me, Mark took the time to talk with me and let me know the whole story…I will do the same for her.

  36. Anonymous Mike
    Posted July 31, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    You just earned a new Fly supporter, Katie.

  37. Posted August 2, 2012 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

    I am shocked that no one mentioned me by name. Oh, come on, now!!

2 Trackbacks

  1. […] Eller: Democrat for City Council” yard signs are almost always accompanied by signs for Steve Pierce and Jim Fink? My sense is that it’s because all of them are conservatives running as […]

  2. […] and ask them to cover the Eller raceBy Mark | August 5, 2012A few days ago, in the wake of the Jaycees’ candidate meet and greet event, AnnArbor.com wrote a story about Ypsilanti’s City Council race. In the article, they had the […]

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