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portrait drawing of Chip Smith

Close Call

Chip Smith survives another near miss.

by James Leonard

From the December, 2017 issue

"I was as nervous as I've ever been," says Chip Smith of his Fifth Ward reelection campaign's final moments. "There were a lot of motivated people because of the Library Lot."

Smith was right to worry: the Democrat squeaked past independent Ali Ramlawi with just 51.5 percent of the vote. "It was the same difference as the [August Democratic] primary against David Silkworth," Smith notes. "I beat both of them by about two hundred votes."

Smith sounds excited but tired after two brutal races in a row. "A six-month campaign for council is nearly unprecedented," he says. "But it showed I can take some punches and still have a positive vision, and the electorate in Ann Arbor responds to a positive vision."

He says he got the message. "My takeaway is we have to come together and figure out our vision for the future. We have to do a better job of talking to each other and not yelling at each other. We have to compromise--and compromise on all sides."

Fourth Ward Democratic incumbent Jack Eaton, who, like Smith's opponents, opposed the Library Lot sale, won a third term easily against independent Diane Giannola. And Ward Two independent Jane Lumm, another sale opponent, beat Democratic challenger Jared Hoffert with a resounding 64 percent of the vote. Lumm says she was "pleasantly surprised. I expected it would be close because he ran as a Democrat in a November election. But I had the advantage of being the incumbent."

Lumm announced long ago, however, that this would be her last race. In the future, all city elections will fall in even-numbered years, and the term she just won ends in 2020--when a presidential election will bring out thousands of straight-ticket Democratic voters.

Smith also had said previously that he won't run again--and says he's still "very" happy with that decision. Eaton says he hasn't decided. "The demographics in town are changing," he notes. "There are new people with new money, and they will have different interests."

Hoffert isn't saying if he'll run again, just that he plans to stay involved. Asked by email if he'll try again, Ramlawi replies, "Absolutely." Voters' strong support, he says, leaves him "more convinced that I am on the right path."    (end of article)

[Originally published in December, 2017.]


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