Colleagues Present and Former Stiff Mayor Pro Tem in Critical Campaign
by P.D. Lesko
On Ward 4 Council member Marcia’s Higgins’s website she writes, “My fellow Councilmember, Christopher Taylor, has graciously described me as, ‘The hardest working member of city council.’” She also writes: “I have a track record of leadership and collaboration, working with all my colleagues….” Judging by campaign finance records released today, somewhere along the way something went terribly wrong with all of Marcia Higgins’s collaboration and working well with her colleagues. Just two of her present colleagues donated to her campaign: John Hieftje and Ward 4 Council member Margie Teall. The rest of the members of City Council stiffed the Mayor Pro Tem. Christopher Taylor was gracious in word and a skinflint in deed. He didn’t donate money to help Higgins retain her seat.
Democrat Ward 1 Council member Sumi Kailasapathy and Democrat Ward 5 Council member Mike Anglin donated to Marcia Higgins’s Democratic challenger, Jack Eaton. Ward 2 Council member Jane Lumm, an independent, also donated to Eaton.
Not only did Higgins’s current colleagues choose not to donate, former colleagues kept their checkbooks closed, as well. For instance, former Ward 2 Council member Tony Derezinski, no doubt offended this past June after his promised nomination to the Planning Commission was yanked in plain sight, kept his checkbook closed. In 2009, Derezinski came through with a $100 donation to the Higgins campaign. On the other hand, in 2012 when Derezinski was challenged by Ward 2 Council member Sally Hart Petersen, none of his fellow Council members, including John Hieftje, donated to his campaign.
A2Politico pointed out that interesting fact in a July 2012 piece:
Derezinski’s colleagues on City Council donated a grand total of nothing to their Ward 2 compadre. While Derezinski’s Ward 2 Council colleague Jane Lumm contributed to other Council candidates, she did not contribute to the re-election campaign of her present Council counterpart. Popular Ward 5 Council member Mike Anglin, whose praise of him Derezinski has been using on the campaign trail, didn’t donate to Tony D., but rather to other candidates.
Former Ward 2 Council member Stephen Rapundalo, to whose unsuccessful 2011 re-election campaign Higgins donated, and to whom she gave her endorsement, stiffed her, as well.
Other former City Council members did donate to Marcia Higgins. Former Ward 3 Council member Jean Carlberg came through with $50, and former Ward 2 Council member and current Downtown Development Authority Board member Joan Lowenstein tossed $100 into the pot. However, the majority of Marcia Higgins’s $4,592 in campaign contributions came from just 5 donors including two developers, a bank director and former former DDA Board member Leah Gunn.
The last time Marcia Higgins faced a significant challenge was 2009, when Hatim Elhady, backed by Jack Eaton, ran as an independent candidate. Several name brand donors who supported Marcia Higgins in 2009 are absent from her 2013 campaign finance forms including:
Leigh Greden, former Ward 3 Council member ($250 given in 2009, $0 in 2013)
Ned Staebler’s Inspire Michigan PAC ($200 given in 2009, $0 in 2013)
Jim Dries, Register of Deeds, Washtenaw County ($200 given in 2009, $0 in 2013)
Russell Collins, DDA Board member ($100 given in 2009, $0 in 2013)
John Splitt, DDA Board member ($200 given in 2009, $0 in 2013)
Christopher Taylor, Ward 3 Council member ($100 given in 2009, $0 in 2013)
Stephen Rapundalo, former Ward 2 Council member ($100 given in 2009, $0 in 2013)
Along with Council colleagues who haven’t given Higgins money this time around, several repeat donors have given less to Higgins who, one could argue, faces an even stiffer challenge from Democrat Eaton. Ward 4 Council member Margie Teall, State Street Association leader Thomas Heywood and Downtown Citizens Advisory Council member Ray Detter all significantly reduced their donations this time around. The question, of course, is whether donors are hedging their bets because they believe Marcia Higgins will be defeated, or perhaps, as was the case with Tony Derezinski, who raised over $10,000 and then spent only about $3,000 of it by the July 2012 reporting deadline, Marcia Higgins and her supporters are feeling confident that she will win. Given the fact Jack Eaton came 18 votes from defeating long-time incumbent Margie Teall in 2012, it would be unlikely Higgins and her supporters don’t consider his candidacy a credible one, capable of taking down the 14 year incumbent.
In early-spring, Marcia Higgins spread the word that she was not going to be campaigning aggressively and she put up a campaign website just 19 days before the primary election. She has been going door-to-door several evenings each week accompanied by John Hieftje, and her campaign finance forms show she has printed up yard signs, and paid for a large mailing in early July, most likely to her Ward’s permanent absentee voters. With her $2,622 remaining in campaign funds, plus any late contributions, she will have enough money to mail one or perhaps two pieces of campaign literature to likely voters in Ward 4. Her opponent, however, was sitting on over $5,000 as of the July 26th campaign finance deadline.
After serving for 14 years, the fact that the city’s Mayor Pro Tem was able to scrape together only $4,592, almost half of which came from just five donors, is a better gauge of her record on City Council and connection to the residents of her Ward than the picture she attempts to paint of herself on her website. Under Higgins’s leadership on the Council Labor Committee and the Council Budget Committee the city has slashed over 100 police officers and 30 firefighters. Nonetheless, Marcia Higgins takes credit for increasing police and fire staffing levels. It should, therefore, come as no surprise that the police or firefighters’ unions did not endorse her or donate to her campaign. In past years, Higgins received several thousand dollar donations from the AAFD PAC.
Marcia Higgins has painted herself into a tight political corner. Not only do several of her current colleagues on City Council want her gone, the ones on City Council with whom she actually collaborates successfully, such as Margie Teall and Christopher Taylor, who don’t want her gone, either didn’t give a penny to her campaign, or gave her less money this time around than they did in 2009. Immediate past Council members, such as Sandi Smith, Carsten Hohnke and Stephen Rapundalo are either incredibly ill-mannered, or could care less that politics is all about reciprocity. At one time or another, Marcia Higgins donated to each of their campaigns and/or endorsed their candidacies.
None of this bodes well for the city’s Mayor Pro Tem and, by extension, for John Hieftje. On August 6th, we’ll find out how this particular story ends.
Short URL: http://www.a2politico.com/?p=15230