General Membership Meeting, May 1, 8am, Sweetwaters, Mayoral Candidate Forum

Sweetwaters Coffee & Tea, 123 W. Washington Street, will host the MSAA May General Membership Meeting.


Mayoral candidate forum featuring three of the four candidates – Sabra Briere, Stephen Kunselman, and Christopher Taylor

Cinetopia Film Festival 2014 – Russ Collins

May 1, 2014

Those present: Tom Murray, Conor O’Neill’s; Amy Cameron, Ann Arbor Art Center; Jessica Wade Johnston, Falling Water; Rick Russell, Moosejaw; Sabra Briere, City Council; Trevor Step, Running Fit; Judy Comstock, Republic Parking; Mary Morgan, Ann Arbor Observer; Ron Stevens, Michigan Small Business & Technology Development Center; Chris Dempsey, Academy of Early Music; Perry Zielak, Petersen Campaign; Sally Hart Petersen, Petersen Campaign; Sarah Miller and Maricat Eggenberger, AAACVB; Tony Derezinski; Brandon Black, United Way of Washtenaw County; Jeanine Deloy, Sally Petersen Supporter; Jon Keller and Max Cope, J. Keller Properties; Rob Boonin, Dykema; Mary Stasiak, AATA; Brittney Jackson, Regency at Bluffs Park; Dave Ebner, Montgomery House; Ryan Stanton, Ann Arbor News; Fran Stacey, Butzel Long; Hilary Gustafson, Literati Bookstore.

President, Tom Murray starts meeting with asking each candidate to introduce themselves.

Chris Taylor – Explains he works at Hooper Hathaway, is currently a member of City Council, and would focus on two things as mayor. First, public service matters, including; safety, water, and city waste. Second, he would continue to expand walkability, and work towards maintaining and increasing our active downtown.

Sabra Briere – Explains she currently sits on City Council and does a good job bringing together view points on the Council. She agrees with Chris, that to make Ann Arbor better we need to continue improving walkability, transportation, and to support our thriving local businesses and qualities.

Sally Petersen – Explains she works in both the public and nonprofit sectors. As Mayor, Petersen would focus on economic development, which the City currently has no staff for. She would call a task force together for civic engagement, to hear voices of our citizen.

Candidates were asked three questions:
1. What is your opinion on the current controversy over downtown development vs. downtown open space?

Sabra Briere – She does not think the two are exclusive, good city design includes both. Urban parks are important to have a livable and walkable community. For maintenance Briere would encourage an expansion of the BIZ, pushing for coverage in the State St. area.

Sally Petersen – Math dictates density. The City has expensive hook-up fees. Sally would encourage an economic policy that would remove the barriers against desirable development. She would encourage large floor planned office space and the development of Main St. down to M14. If we had a vibrant N. Main area, it would encourage more people to come downtown. She supports the transportation millage.

Chris Taylor – It is important to provide balance for density and open space. Both are necessities. Taylor sat on the Parks Advisory Commission working to identify what makes a successful downtown park. We need open space but it needs to be smart, it needs to be developed complimentary and conceived of at the same time as new building, both are critical to the success of downtown.

2.How would you improve the relationship between the City and the DDA?

Sally Petersen – The DDA’s most important contribution has been activating our sidewalks and dealing with our parking. Sally doesn’t think their role is changing and should not change what they’re doing. Petersen is in favor of a cap being put on how much money the DDA can keep. They need to share the wealth.

Chris Taylor – The conflict between the DDA and the City hurts us, it’s bad for Ann Arbor’s infrastructure. The DDA supports the Go Pass, ally repairs, and are there when improvements in the City are needed. It is a bad idea to take money away from the DDA because it is taking money from downtown and sending to the outside. They are proper stewards of downtown.

Sabra Briere – Sabra has taken the time to learn how the DDA functions, she has met with its members. The people on the DDA are working to please both Council and the community. The DDA responds to Council’s demands and they should be able to be independent and not pushed in different directions. They are an organization that plans ten years at a time, while trying to respond to councils immediate demands. Sabra is a DDA supporter who does not think they have more money than they need.

How do you feel about big chains coming downtown?

Chris Taylor – Chris is excited downtown is attractive to people. No he does not want chains downtown. We need to do our best to advocate for local businesses. Would like to see good balance, restaurants and retailers complimenting each other.

Sabra Briere – Sabra is a firm advocate for local businesses, not retail chains. Target and Create and Barrel do not bring the kind of foot traffic we want. They would be destination specific locations, not encouraging foot traffic through town. Small businesses provide specialty items not provided by national chains. How can we incentivize and encourage them?

Sally Petersen – Not all chains are alike. They bring people downtown for their needs. Starbucks, it fits in our downtown. We need to have strategic placing around downtown for the chains that fit, like Apple. Restaurants like Carrabba’s and P.F. Chang’s don’t fit downtown and would be good on the outskirts. Sally wants to keep Ann Arbor funky, if a chain doesn’t fit in with our downtown, put them on the outskirts.

Closing remarks.

Sally Petersen – Sally’s main focuses in office would include; responsible growth and development, better collaboration with UM, and elevating quality of civil conduct.

Sabra Briere – More and more Sabra recognizes people move here because they love it. People who live here are engaged and want their neighborhood to reflect that. Sabra’s relationship with people in the community is very grassroots, she listens and then takes action.

Chris Taylor – Young professionals are so important to downtown. The City needs to be open and welcoming to 25-30 year olds. We need to encourage young people with better transit, a vital downtown, and a political culture that is open to them.

Russ Collins, Michigan Theater – Cinetopia, International Film Festival, will be here June 4th – 8th. Cinetopia International Film Festival features the best feature-length dramas, comedies, and documentaries from the world’s best film festivals (e.g. Sundance, Cannes, Venice, Toronto, Berlin, SXSW, Tribeca, etc.) There will be 50 films shown over 10 venues. Cinetopia is growing as a destination event. If you would like to advertise in our marketing of the event contact Russ.

Ladies Night is May 9

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