But as city budget cuts bite deeper, four wards are contested this year--three by Republicans aligned with the conservative Tea Party movement, and one by a former Republican councilmember hoping to reclaim her seat as an independent.
For the first time in eight years, Ann Arbor's experiment with single-party rule is being contested.
After city council became totally Democratic in 2004, only one seat was contested in the general election over the next six years. Then last year, a Republican and an independent ran. And this year, a remarkable four council seats are being contested on Tuesday, November 8--three by Republicans and one by an independent.
Two trends are converging. One is that people who once identified themselves as moderate Republicans began running as Democrats or independents. This year, two of the incumbents and the independent candidate are former Republicans. The second trend is that more-conservative candidates have stepped forward to run on the GOP line: all three of this year's Republican challengers share Tea Party associations.