Getting to know Ann Arbor City Council candidate Jane Lumm

Lumm is the incumbent city council member for Ward 2

Jane Lumm is running for re-election for the Ward 2 city council seat. (Pat Johnston)

ANN ARBOR – Jane Lumm (D) is running for re-election for the Ward 2 city council seat. She is seeking her fifth term as a council member.

She has represented Ward 2 since 2011 as an Independent. Lumm previously served on City Council as a Republican from 1993 to 1998.

She routinely holds virtual coffee hours to talk with Ward 2 residents.

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?

As I listen to 2nd ward residents as a sitting council member and on the campaign trail, the two issues that come up the most are city-wide issues - the very high, and growing, property tax burden in Ann Arbor and the poor condition of our streets.

In terms of taxes, those are voter decisions, but I do not support adding to Ann Arbor’s already high tax levels - tax levels that are already driving folks, particularly those on fixed incomes, out of their homes. Regarding the condition of our streets, I’ve taken the lead in re-allocating funding to more street repair by authoring budget amendments adopted by city council, and I will continue to make re-investment in infrastructure – streets, as well as water/sewer and parks – a spending priority.

The unique 2nd Ward issues relate to the residential growth that’s taken place – and is contemplated - in the 2nd Ward. Northeast Ann Arbor is where significant growth has occurred in our city including almost 1,000 new homes that feed traffic onto Nixon Road and Plymouth Road, the major north-south and east west corridors in Northeast Ann Arbor. These two corridors already suffer from significant traffic congestion challenges. I’ve championed a major improvement project (Nixon Corridor Improvement Project) that is now planned in the 2025 time frame and I will work to ensure that project is not delayed, or better yet, done sooner.

Plymouth Road is one of the major Ann Arbor corridors (along with Washtenaw – also in the 2nd Ward) that is a candidate for including the new Transit Oriented Zoning District being proposed. As initially proposed, there would be no height or mass limits on the residential buildings in this new zoning district. I would not support that, and will work to revise the proposal to reflect appropriate standards consistent with the surrounding areas. I will also work to ensure that public input is formally and meaningfully sought and informs these and any new zoning district recommendations -- the transit supported zoning district recommendations were presented council without public input.

For the Washtenaw corridor area, potential developments in/near the Arborland Shopping Center would exacerbate problematic traffic conditions on Washtenaw – and that must be a consideration in evaluating those proposals. It's also critical to have the necessary supporting transportation infrastructure (e.g., rapid transit) in place to support these redevelopment and upzoning proposals.

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

In addition to the two issues I covered in the prior question - (1) the very high, and growing, property tax burden in Ann Arbor and (2) the poor condition of our streets – the other major city-wide issues are (3) the proposed changes to zoning and land use (4) addressing the financial challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, and (5) affordable housing.

Some residents and city council members favor eliminating single-family zoning altogether, or revising it dramatically. I do not agree. I believe Ann Arbor’s strong quality of life is in large part due to the physical character, charm, and diversity of our single-family neighborhoods. I would oppose revising zoning standards to allow apartment buildings or stores in single-family neighborhoods.

The city and our residents and local businesses face significant pandemic-related financial challenges. I have taken a leadership role on council in addressing the challenges. I authored the city council guidance to city staff on implementing the city’s Financial Recovery Plan, sponsored resolutions facilitating and supporting local business recovery, and sponsored a resolution to provide taxpayers some temporary relief.

In terms of affordable housing, the city has finally made some concrete progress in attempting to address the challenge by beginning the process to construct affordable housing at two city-owned properties – 350 S. Fifth and 415 W. Washington. I supported those actions, and the study of other city-owned properties under consideration for affordable housing.

Why did you decide to run again for City Council?

I was encouraged to run for re-election by the majority of my council colleagues who felt my experience and budget expertise were especially needed now, and by many 2nd ward residents who appreciated the voice I’ve provided them and the help I’ve given them in solving a problem or navigating City Hall.

It is also a very important time for Ann Arbor City government with several key issues and policy questions to be decided. I care about our community and want to help ensure those decisions are in Ann Arbor’s best interests and reflect the broader community’s priorities and preferences.

Specifically, I want to accomplish three things. First, I want to continue to build on the progress the City has made in better aligning city spending with community (not City Hall) priorities. Second, I want to ensure that single-family neighborhood zoning is not eliminated or drastically changed. Finally, I want to ensure the 2nd Ward continues to have hands-on, service-oriented representation.

What could Ann Arbor do better?

Ann Arbor is a vibrant, livable medium-sized city and home to a major University. It is an attractive place to live and work because of its charm, diversity, cultural offerings and strong neighborhoods. As a result, the demand to live here exceeds the supply of housing driving up housing prices and the need for affordable housing. That has led to a strong desire among some elected officials and residents to aggressively address the housing challenge without regard to what the implications might be. What city government must do is to remember that Ann Arbor is also attractive to real estate developers and insist on development that is compatible with its surroundings and does not compromise the charm of our city and physical character of our neighborhoods – the very reasons Ann Arbor is attractive in the first place.

City government also must do better in listening to its residents. Whether the issue is how tax dollars are spent, land use, a new proposed real-estate development, or a major policy decision, I believe city government relies too heavily now on the views of council members or special interest groups. Instead, it should be the broader community preferences and priorities that are shaping major priority and policy decisions.

Finally, I believe the City and University could work together more closely. Although the relationship is not an adversarial one, I believe both the City and UM could benefit through more collaboration and strategic partnerships.

What do you love about Ann Arbor?

As a medium-sized home to a large, major University, there’s a vibrancy and diversity - as well as cultural and entertainment opportunities - not typical of a city Ann Arbor’s size. Being medium-sized also offers a certain charm and great, livable neighborhoods and we have wonderful parks and open spaces. All that results in a very strong quality of life.

As a University town, our residents are educated and actively/thoughtfully engaged in local issues whether it’s city government or the public schools. Residents care about the community. Those are some of the things I love about Ann Arbor.

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

For more information, visit her website.

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.