Getting to know Ann Arbor City Council candidate Anne Bannister

Bannister is the incumbent city council member for Ward 1

Anne Bannister is running for re-election for the Ward 1 city council seat. (Anne Bannister)

ANN ARBOR – Anne Bannister (D) is running for re-election for the Ward 1 city council seat. She is seeking her second term as a council member.

She grew up and attended school in Ann Arbor. As a certified financial planner, she holds a Bachelor of Psychology from the University of Michigan.

She lives with her golden doodle puppy, Bailey.

The following interview was conducted via email.

In your opinion, what are the main issues in your ward? How do you propose to solve them?

I’m always working with my Ward 1 constituents to address issues such as road and sidewalk maintenance, increased traffic, and basic services such as trash pickup, recycling and clean water. We have some neighborhoods where there are gaps in the sidewalks and I have been working to get those built, while balancing the needs and input of the individual property owners. We’ll have a millage on the November ballot to address new sidewalk installation, so that individual residents may not be burdened with a sometimes five-figure special assessment bill. We are continuing to address sidewalk and bicycle safety, as we encourage residents to use nonmotorized transportation as part of our A2Zero carbon neutrality by 2030 plan. We want to establish more dedicated bike lanes and safer, clearly marked crosswalks, so that public safety is improved. There has also been a lot of development in Ann Arbor, and much of that has been in Ward 1. I work closely with Ward 1 residents to ensure that new projects are good for the Ward as well as the City.

What do you feel are the biggest issues in Ann Arbor?

Two of the most important issues involve our work on affordable housing and climate action. We are addressing these issues at the same time we're handling the anticipated multiyear, multimillion dollar budget shortfalls as a result of the pandemic, and still protecting our essential services, human services, and support for local businesses. On June 1 Council passed our A2Zero carbon neutrality by 2030 plan. On July 27 Council passed an affordable housing millage proposal that will be on the November ballot for Ann Arbor voters to decide. We are continuing to make progress and are seeing significant action and results.

Why did you decide to run again for City Council?

I’ve always been a people person, a listener and a problem-solver. My model for good government is leadership through service. I’m passionate about working with my Ward 1 constituents, and residents in other parts of Ann Arbor, to solve problems and make the city work well for them. I enjoy learning from my residents about their priorities and solutions. I work closely with individuals and neighborhood organizations, by going to their meetings, most recently by video conferences. Many people feel that they don’t have a voice in their city government and I want to help amplify their voices. I grew up in Ann Arbor, graduated from Huron High School and the University of Michigan, and bought a 117 year old house where I have lived for over 30 years. This broad historical background has helped me bring a deep understanding of the City, to help solve problems and give perspective to issues. As a financial educator, I also have special skills that help in managing the City’s budget and have participated in three budget cycles in my first term on Council. My understanding of finances was important when I first ran for Council, and it’s even more important now with the challenges posed by the Coronovirus. I enjoy using all of my abilities in making Ann Arbor an inclusive, great place to live, work, and retire.

What could Ann Arbor do better?

We are always working to improve City processes, from smaller issues to fixing systemic problems. We work to improve our streets to make them functional for all sorts of transit, including bikes, pedestrians and motor vehicles. The decreased traffic in town because of Covid-19 has allowed us to make major street repairs with minimal inconvenience to residents. With the pandemic we have increased support to our local businesses to help ensure that they remain viable. We addressed this for the summer by closing streets to allow expanded outdoor seating for restaurants. This system allowed for safe social distancing at our wonderful eateries.

We need to work harder to create more affordable housing, and have made great progress with developer-provided affordable housing contributions, progress with using city owned properties, and most recently Council voted to put an Affordable Housing Millage on the November ballot.

We are also working to improve the relationship between the Police Department and the community. We hired Police Chief Cox from Boston, and through his superb skills, he and his department are working for the best possible relationship with the citizens they serve. The City is receiving input from citizens, local businesses, staff, the Independent Community Police Oversight Commission (ICPOC), the AAPD and others, as we work toward improvements to the Collective Bargaining Agreement with the police officers. I will continue to support the efforts of all parties to make meaningful progress in the negotiations, to strengthen our community policing efforts and police oversight, and to make sure all citizens are treated with dignity and respect as we continue our actions to end systemic racism.

What do you love about Ann Arbor?

The people of Ann Arbor are outstanding! We have such a variety of residents from so many different backgrounds which bring a special character to our town. The people who live here really care about Ann Arbor. They are involved, informed, and passionate. We are fortunate to have countless cultural amenities such as concerts, music events, museums, and outdoor recreation opportunities. I love our parks, our Huron River with its Cascades, our many local, grassroots businesses, our schools, the University of Michigan and all it brings to our town, the Arboretum, our proximity to excellent health care, our Ann Arbor District Library and more. There’s no other place I’d rather live.

For more information about Bannister, visit her website.

All About Ann Arbor reached out to all of the city council candidates for interviews.

For more information about the Aug. 4 primary, read:

Aug. 4 primary: Who’s running in Ann Arbor, Washtenaw County

About the Author:

Sarah has worked for WDIV since June 2018. She covers community events, good eats and small businesses in Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in Applied Linguistics from Grand Valley State University.