Jane Lumm for Ann Arbor City Council… What’s the appeal?

As I knew I was going to be in meetings all evening, and I wouldn’t have the time to write anything meaningful about Tuesday’s City Council election in Ann Arbor, I just went to Facebook and posed a question to my friends concerning incumbent City Council member Jane Lumm, whose reelection race, from my admittedly somewhat removed point of view, is one of the more interesting ones on the ballot. “Can someone in Ann Arbor who is planning to vote for Jane Lumm please explain the appeal?,” I asked. “As an outsider looking in, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.”

And here’s the response.


It would seem that none of my friends are planning to vote for Lumm, who is running as an Independent against Democratic candidate Kirk Westphal, and Conrad Brown, who’s running under the banner of the newly formed Mixed-Use Party.

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  1. Posted November 4, 2013 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

    A few other messages have been sent to my attention since first posting this. Here are a few of my favorites.

    • I don’t want to see City Council completely stacked with curmudgeons who want to fossilize Ann Arbor in amber.

    • I think the support (of Lumm) is in line with, “I wonder why my adult children won’t live in Ann Arbor?”

    • Development should also mean places for young employees to live, not just our privileged families already set in (their) careers and communities.

  2. peter zetlin
    Posted November 5, 2013 at 3:52 am | Permalink

    Hi Mark,

    Lumm’s appeal for many is that she opposes the political machine which has controlled AA govt for many years. Her opponent, Kirk Westphal, is backed by the group which supports that machine.

  3. anonymous
    Posted November 5, 2013 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    I’ve heard her described as “tea party lite”. She’s got all of the “no big government” stuff without the homophobia. It’s apparently a combination that works with aging progressives who don’t want to pay taxes.

  4. E.
    Posted November 5, 2013 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    Lumm is a Republican running as an Independent because that’s how Republicans win in a town like Ann Arbor that fancies itself as progressive.

  5. Meta
    Posted November 5, 2013 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    The people with money back Lumm.

    Candidates in Ann Arbor city council races have so far raised a combined total of more than $50,000 in contributions for the general election to be held on Nov. 5, 2013. The $20,875 raised by Ward 2 independent incumbent Jane Lumm made her total about twice as much as any other candidate. That included Ward 2 Democratic challenger Kirk Westphal, who raised $10,103 during the pre-election campaign period, which ended Oct. 20.

    Lumm’s fundraising effort during the pre-election phase exceeded her total from 2011 when she contested the general election with incumbent Democrat Stephen Rapundalo. That year she raised $18,950 from 193 donors.

    The third Ward 2 candidate, Conrad Brown, filed a reporting waiver, which is allowed if a candidate does not expect to raise more than $1,000.

    Read more:

  6. Meta
    Posted November 5, 2013 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    Westphal has characterized Lumm is “tea party like”.

    Ann Arbor City Council Member Jane Lumm says she’s growing frustrated with something she’s hearing from voters when she goes door-to-door.

    “Apparently I’m being characterized as a Tea Party Republican, which is nonsense,” said Lumm, who served on council as a Republican in the 1990s and has represented the 2nd Ward as an Independent for the last two years.

    Lumm said she’s not sure who’s spreading the message that she’s a Tea Party Republican, but she suspects it’s coming from her opponent, Democrat Kirk Westphal, chairman of the city’s Planning Commission.


    Westphal is running an aggressive campaign with support from Mayor John Hieftje and a number of the mayor’s political allies who want Lumm out of office.

    At a candidate forum Thursday night at the Traverwood Branch Library, Westphal likened Lumm’s stance against accepting federal funding for a new train station in Ann Arbor to something a Tea Party Republican would do.

    “The only communities I’ve heard of rebuffing federal funding for rail infrastructure is a governor of Florida, Wisconsin, and a Tea Party mayor in Troy,” he said. “I cannot believe we are discussing turning down tens of millions in federal funds.”

    Read more:

  7. facebook stalker
    Posted November 5, 2013 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    An interesting exchange on Facebook:

    Person 1: Wasn’t she in favor of accessory dwellings over the objections of the NIMBYs?

    Person 2: Yes. She did oppose the Huron St project though, and that has won her some loyalty. She may have lost that ground now– the Gelman contribution should have been returned given the need to address the plume in the near future.

  8. Jean Henry
    Posted November 5, 2013 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    The use of ‘political machine’ to define Mayor Hieftje is absurd. Ann Arbor has a city manager, which severely limits mayoral power relative to almost any other form of city government. A lot of those accused of being in his coterie have little or no association with him. There is no organization warranting the ‘machine’ rhetoric. The mayor endorses some candidates and not others– beyond that it’s simply a matter of whether their votes (and vision for the city) align. I’m not crazy about the Tea Publican rhetoric either. It’s inflammatory and inaccurate (though I don;t support Lumm)We have a lot of work to do as a city, and this divisiveness and hyperbole just takes away from any real conversation about the choices gov’t faces. I find it very frustrating. I also find it upsetting that the public conversation among the citizenry is uninformed and grounded in suspicion. We are no better than any voters in that— despite our over-degreed populace. The other day I was talking in a school playground with a mom who was also an academic in public health, she literally whispered this sentence “Well we can’t talk about the need for density in this town, can we? Density is a dirty word here.”

  9. Site Admin
    Posted November 5, 2013 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    The Vivienne Armentrout linkback is interesting:

    “As I note in one of the updates, it is clear that the newly adult generation (often called the Millennials) is beginning to flex their muscles. They want to be in on the action. I predict that this is going to cause some waves in Ann Arbor politics in the next few years.”


  10. Jean Henry
    Posted November 5, 2013 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    When Obama beat Romney, my dad explained Obama’s win to his GOP friends this way: “You can’t win a major election in America on a platform of going backward.” In Ann Arbor, however, that strategy works really well. Let’s hope not this time.

  11. Jean Henry
    Posted November 5, 2013 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    Does the Armentrout trackback mean I’m a millennial? I just dropped 25 years! Clearly only a 20 year old could be progressive.

  12. John Galt
    Posted November 5, 2013 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    Low taxes and available parking spaces are the two most important things. Don’t tell me that poor people want me to buy them a new bus. Tell me that I’ll be able to find a parking space near Zingerman’s .

  13. double anonymous
    Posted November 5, 2013 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    Not being from Ann Arbor, I didn’t follow the train station story. Can someone explain to me why Lumm was against accepting federal funding?

  14. Jean Henry
    Posted November 5, 2013 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    For Dbl Anon: http://www.annarbor.com/news/ann-arbor-accepts-28m-federal-grant-for-new-train-station/

  15. double anonymous
    Posted November 5, 2013 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    Thank you, Jean.

  16. pseudo
    Posted November 6, 2013 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    As someone who lived in Ann Arbor for years before moving to Ypsi…I think these comments from “Ypsi” folks are buttery rich. Ypsilanti has a huge historic district (per building unit) AND a historic commission that does indeed want this town and every little tid bit of potential history preserved in the past or bronzed at whatever the cost to anyone else that could be possible. And we have stuck with it in the face of pretty poor housing market results. Complaining about Jane Lumm’s supporters as if they want the same thing is highly entertaining to me. baloney – but entertaining.

    Jane Lumm, like all local politicians, as relationships with her constituents. She has a long history and they know her. Westphal has them too and they know him as well. Ann Arbor votes with its campaign money as much as it does at the ballot box. Ward 2 is the current context trusts and LIKEs Jane’s judgement.

    @Double Anonymous: Jane was against federal funding because the funding comes with a potential $60M project cost attached and it was not clear that Ann Arbor was accepting money or spending a bunch of money it didn’t have. She has a long history of being a fiscal hawk of sorts.

  17. Knox
    Posted November 6, 2013 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    Gelman won Ward 2 with over 55% of the vote.


  18. Knox
    Posted November 6, 2013 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    Sorry. By Gelman I meant Lumm.

  19. jean henry
    Posted November 6, 2013 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    Pseudo– I’m from Ann Arbor– homeowner here for 25 years. The difference between Ypsi and Ann Arbor is obvious– Ann Arbor is rich. In Ypsi retaining historic structures downtown is part of downtown development (just as it is in Ann Arbor). Ypsi is growing naturally via grass roots and locally based energy. I’d love to see a progressive developer do something great with Water Street. I don’t hear much about developers angling to grow the downtown. Ann Arbor, on the other hand, has high rental demand (and pricing relative to home values) and is growing fast. (U-M has a campaign right now to raise $1 billion just for buildings) A2 is a stop on a developing high speed line between Detroit and Chicago that requires a new rail station (Which could also provide opportunity for other light rail development– benefiting Ypsi residents and workers). Ann Arbor has an opportunity to lead the county forward on progressive city development– as Grand Rapids has done to great positive impact. Jane Lumm voted against funds that would explore the idea of a new rail station– no requirement for further commitment attached. She was simply being obstructionist– preventing access to valuable information that might have made the case for a station she opposes. People like her because they distrust government and developers equally. She plays both sides of the fence– playing to suspicion and fear mongering. She has no vision for the future of the city. She’s a fiscal conservative and a bureaucrat. Ann Arbor doesn’t like change and isn’t much interested in economic diversity or green development… or libraries apparently. It’s regressive. The complainers win. Soon enough the younger demographic– if they aren’t driven from the city entirely– will lead the larger silent base of citizens to catch on that we are losing ground on a positive future. Not one focused on housing values and historic preservation and divisiveness, but on inclusiveness and building a city that is inspiring, attractive and progressive– leaning to the future.

  20. The Real Real McCoy
    Posted November 6, 2013 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    “Jane Lumm voted against funds that would explore the idea of a new rail station– no requirement for further commitment attached.”

    If you’re referencing the 2.8 million federal grant, the expectation was that there would be no requirement for further commitment. That didn’t turn out to be the case.

    “She was simply being obstructionist–”

    She was showing prescience.

    “Soon enough the younger demographic– if they aren’t driven from the city entirely– will lead the larger silent base of citizens to catch on that we are losing ground on a positive future.”

    Unless the University is packing it’s bags and going elsewhere, this statement is a touch hyperbolic. One might even call it “playing to suspicion and fear mongering”.

    “Not one focused on housing values and historic preservation and divisiveness, but on inclusiveness and building a city that is inspiring, attractive and progressive– leaning to the future.”

    I am glad that the citizens are finally recognizing that a measured approach that engages all members of the Ann Arbor community instead of a stance that allows the University to run roughshod over it’s citizens is the true path of inclusion. While it isn’t going to warm the hearts of The League of Extraordinary Urban Planners that want to share their vision as members of city council, sewage and road infrastructure are absolutely critical and must be addressed for the people currently living in the city as well as reestablishing a solid foundation for future growth.

    At this point, the citizens of Ann Arbor are rejecting the China ghost city philosophy of “if you build it, they will come” and are focused on a realistic strategy for moving Ann Arbor forward. If only Ypsilanti had public officials who weren’t so ready to write checks that their ass couldn’t possibly cash…

  21. facebook stalker
    Posted November 6, 2013 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    pseudo, having seen the original exchange on Facebook before the names and faces were blacked out, I can tell you that almost every one of these comments was left by someone living in Ann Arbor.

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  1. By Political Update | Ann Arbor - It's Where We Live on November 5, 2013 at 10:31 am

    […] Here is a current post on my issues blog about the November 2013 election: Partisan Labels and Ann Arbor Politics. […]

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