“It’s been topsy-turvy the last couple elections,” says Ali Ramlawi, the Fifth Ward councilmember up for reelection this year, “where the pendulum swung one way, and the pendulum swung the other way.”

Mayor Christopher Taylor’s faction—blogger Sam Firke calls them the “Strivers”—lost control of council in 2018, when Ramlawi and two other challengers picked off candidates he’d endorsed in the Democratic primary. Just two years later, the same fate befell his side—Firke calls them the “Protectors”—and the mayor reclaimed a 7–4 majority.

The pendulum probably won’t swing so widely this year. Taylor has no announced opponent in the August primary and has candidates running in every ward. As the Observer went to press, the Protectors had yet to field anyone in Ward Three, and Ward One incumbent Jeff Hayner wasn’t saying if he’d run again. Barring last-minute changes—candidates can file as late as April 19—the Strivers seem poised to retain or increase their majority.  

Asked what’s at stake in this election, Taylor replies: “We have a lot of momentum on issues that are important to Ann Arbor community members: infrastructure improvement, affordable housing construction, progress on carbon neutrality, climate action services and important improvements with respect to other basic city services. And I believe that momentum will continue. 

“However we have council members who have acted in a matter unbecoming to the office,” the mayor continues. (Hayner was stripped of his committee assignments last year after sharing a quote that included a disparaging reference to gay people.) Says Taylor, “We need to have a council that acts in a manner that respects the process, that respects the importance of the office, that respects the professionalism of staff, and that respects the community.”

Asked the same question, Ramlawi replies, “Folks are fatigued with a changing of positions at the top [of city government]. I’ve worked with four different city administrators in three and a half years! [Plus] there’s a bunch of other issues when we talk about affordable housing, sustainability, climate change, land use, [and] infrastructure.”

As for his platform, Ramlawi says, “I’m still working on it, but I think it mostly goes down to integrity, transparency, accountability, working on the issues for the people, [like] unarmed emergency response.”