Tuesday, July 19, 2016


City Council Candidate Forum 2016
First, kudos to the League of Women Voters of The Ann Arbor Area for organizing the Ypsilanti City Council Candidate Debate Forum held at the Riverside Arts Center in downtown Ypsilanti. The debate featured City Council candidates from wards 2 and 3. Ward 2 candidates are Beth Bashert and Jennifer Symanns. The ward 3 candidates are Liz Dahl MacGregor and Pete Murdock.

I am happy to report a strong turn out to the event. From my estimation the place wasn't packed, but was mostly full. There seems to be a real buzz around town in regard to Ypsilanti politics that is nice to see. Like many urban areas in the Midwest Ypsilanti struggles with many issues including city budget, public education, crime, unemployment and race relations. To these ears all but one of these important issues were directly addressed. I did not hear any discussion regarding the struggling Ypsilanti Community Schools which was disappointing. But as far as the other issues listed above they were addressed.

I certainly don't pretend to be an expert as far as all of the issues facing Ypsilanti. However, being from Flint, Michigan I do know a little something about living in struggling communities. There are some similarities between my hometown of Flint and my home of 12 years, Ypsilanti. They are both blue collar towns and they both face struggles with the economy and education. However, there is one difference: After attending Monday nights forum it is evident that all of the candidates running for City Council in Ypsilanti are on the same page as far as what needs to be done to improve the city. I did not get a sense of the divisiveness seen far too often as far as city leaders in my hometown of Flint, and I'm sad to say it.
There was not a shred of of contention among candidates tonight at the Ypsilanti City Council Debate. The debate was informative and respectful.

As far as views held by candidates all displayed passion and concern  for community, diversity, race relations, and growing the economy in Ypsi. It was interesting to learn that ward 3 candidate Pete Murdock, who hails from Boston, comes from a family of activism in the progressive realm. He is running for re election and is much experienced in the world of Ypsilanti politics. He also happened to be Mayor of Ypsilanti from 1982 to 1989.

Ward 3 candidate Liz Dahl Macgregor made it clear that she is for the controversial Water Street Millage and feels strongly that Ypsilanti needs more housing. Although not crazy about the idea, MacGregor stated that as far as business coming to Water Street she would welcome an establishment like a food chain to the property.

Ward 2 candidate Beth Bashert has much experience in so far as fund raising in the non profit realm. Beth has a lot of experience and expertise in working for increased diversity, green spaces and advocating for public transportation.

Ward 2 candidate Jennifer Symanns spoke of her many years of being an advocate for Ypsilanti and her concern for the future of the city. She is interested in discussing the fact that the city has greatly reduced services and that this cannot continue to go on as taxes are high. Of note is the fact she was a  police officer and knows much about the importance of positive police relations as far as community building.

Though it was abundantly clear that each of the City Council candidates are deeply concerned and passionate about Ypsilanti, the importance of diversity and community building, I would like to endorse Beth Bashert of Ward 2 and Pete Murdock of Ward 3. As far as sharp, concise arguments and opinions presented in a straight forward and genuine manner Beth Bashert did a remarkable job during the debate. She would make one fabulous City Council member.

Pete Murdock of Ward 3 was impressive for his experience within Ypsilanti city politics, clearly stated opinions, and sensitivity to social justice.

 It is clear that each of the City Council candidates are passionate about Ypsilanti and want to make positive changes for the community in difficult times.

Jeff Brown
Purple Walrus Press

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