Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Voter turnout up across all wards in Ann Arbor City Council primary

Gentle readers, the last odd year #a2council primary has come and gone. Voter turnout was up across all 4 of the wards that had contested primaries last week. The Fighting Fifth maintains its position as the Ann Arbor ward with the highest turnout. Interestingly, this pattern of higher turnout runs against the pattern of lower turnout in the May 2017 election. You can check out all of the data for yourself on the Washtenaw County Election's website.

Ward 1:

2015: 6.05%
2017: 9.94%

Ward 3:

2015: 10.61%
2017: 12.17%

Ward 4:

2015: 10.08%
2017: 11.50%

Ward 5:

2015: 14.09%
2017: 17.00%

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Water Street millage passes in Ypsilanti

With 64% of voters in favor, the Water Street millage passed today. A total of 1544 voters voted in favor, while 867 were opposed. This means the city will be able to pay off the debt on the Water Street property more quickly.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Please vote tomorrow

Gentle readers, as you know, we take local elections very seriously here. This is especially true for the August primary, which in Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor usually decides who will win the general election for the city council and mayoral races. Tomorrow there are important races in Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor.
In Ypsilanti voters will be deciding whether to adopt a 2.3 mil millage to retire the debt owned on the Water Street Property. This would cost someone who owns a house values at $100,000 an additional $115 per year in property taxes. WEMU has a good piece on the Water Street Millage here. Full disclosure: I support the millage and was interviewed for the WEMU story.
In Ann Arbor there are contested races in Wards 1, 3, 4, and 5. Here's an earlier Damn Arbor article looking at the campaign finance data for the election.
The August primary usually has tragically low voter turnout. That means if you do vote, your vote counts for even more, relatively. So please, take time to vote tomorrow.
Personally I am really interested to see what the turnout numbers will be tomorrow. I'm interested in seeing how tomorrow's voter turnout will compare to past odd-year primaries. For last May's school funding millage, the voter turnout was lower than previous odd-year, May elections. I am interested in whether the interest in politics at the national level will trickle down to the local level resulting in increased voter turnout in tomorrow's elections in comparison to similar odd-year elections.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Ann Arbor Stories remembers the Ann Arbor Zoo

From 1929 to 1963 U of M had a very small zoo on the corner of Geddes and Washtenaw. I remember my dad telling me about it when I was a kid. There was a fondness in those memories, but also some sadness as the zoo was quite small. Though University briefly flirted with expanding the zoo to a 40 acre zoological garden, those plans never came to fruition. Ultimately, the U of M's small zoo was disbanded. You can hear all about it on toady's Ann Arbor Stories.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Whittaker the Turkey gets obituary in The Atlantic

Whittaker the Turkey died doing what he loved: standing in the middle of the road. Atlantic writer, Julie Beck, became fascinated by Whittaker while home visiting her family this winter. She has a touching obituary for our region's most famous galliform. If you were a fan of Whittaker, you will want to check the article out. I never knew there was so much Whittaker fan art.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Election 2017: campaign finance edition

July pre-election campaign statements are in! I'm still digesting the information, but here's a glance at the numbers. The hyper

Ward 1

Anne Bannister - Donations: $6,675; In-kind donations: $365; Expenditures: $2,969.55; Campaign Finance Filing

Jason Frenzel - Donations: $11,217; In-kind donations: $400; Expenditures: $4,886.12; Campaign Finance Filing

Total donations: $17,892; Total expenditures: $7,855.67

Ward 3
Zach Ackerman - Donations: $12,698; In-kind donations: $0; Expenditures: $9,046.50; Campaign Finance Filing

Steve Kunselman - Donations: $6,119; In-kind donations: $0; Expenditures: $4,303.50; Campaign Finance Filing

Total donations: $18,817; Total expenditures: $4,303.50

Ward 4
Jack Eaton - Donations: $5,805; In-kind donations: $197; Expenditures: $3,891.65; Campaign Finance Filing

Jaime Magiera - Donations: $4,280; In-kind donations: $0; Expenditures: $1,043; Campaign Finance Filing

Total donations: $10,085; Total expenditures: $4,935.38

Ward 5
David Silkworth - Donations: $9,949; In-kind donations: $1,248.07; Expenditures: $3,730.37; Campaign Finance Filing

Chip Smith - Donations: $11,510; In-kind donations: $1,329.65; Expenditures: $6926.94; Campaign Finance Filing

Total donations: $21,459; Total expenditures: $10,657

Assorted observations: while the campaign to represent the Fighting Fifth has received the most donations, the candidates in the race to represent Ward 3 have outspent those running for the Ward 5 seat by almost $4,000. Ward 4 appears to be the least expensive ward to run in. The combined expenditures in that race were just more than a third of those for the most expensive race. In total across wards, there have been $69,253 in donations and $37,751 in expenditures. I don't have the data on hand at the moment, but it would be interesting to track the change in donation volume and expenditure over time. I imagine there is general upward trend.

If I had more time, I think a really interesting next step would be to enter all the donations into a more user friendly format and do a more in-depth analysis. Specifically, I'd like to do a clustering analysis across candidates to analyze the networks of donors who are donating to multiple candidates. Also, I'd love to do something like the Chronicle did in 2014 where they looked at the geographic distribution of donations in each race.

In closing gentle readers, I encourage you to look at the campaign finance filings for each candidate. It's an important part of being an informed voter. It's really wonderful that the County Clerk puts this information online in such a timely manner.