Ann Arbor Primary Candidate Profile: Zachary Ackerman, Ward 3

Zachary Ackerman

Incumbent Zachary Ackerman is a candidate looking to renew a vow that he made to the electorate of Ann Arbor’s third ward when he sought a seat at the Ann Arbor City Council’s table two years ago.

The deal was that Ackerman would make decisions over the course of those two years that would serve the whole city for the following 20 years.

“We need to invest in our infrastructure and basic services, we need to invest in building an affordable housing market, and we need to invest in a progressive action on the environment, transit, and a vibrant downtown,” Ackerman said. “I would say that many of the decisions we’ve made will better Ann Arbor for the next 20 years.”

Some of the initiatives that Ackerman claimed support for include a new road maintenance plan that will reduce the number of potholes currently plaguing the city’s more than 300 miles of roadways without cannibalizing any other area of the city’s overall road maintenance strategy.

“We have nearly rehabilitated every unit in our public housing system, ensuring that our most vulnerable neighbors can live safely,” he said, before pointing out that the work along these lines isn’t complete. There’s still a need for more “workforce housing, housing for teachers, bus drivers, retirees, and young professionals,” all classes of people who often struggle to make ends meet in a high cost-of-living city such as Ann Arbor.

With Ackerman on council, the city has funded a new urban forestry plan on the table that will bring a thousand new street trees to neighborhoods across the city each year, while fully funding their maintenance and care to keep them looking as well-kept as the rest of the city.

Watch Zachary Ackerman’s full public pitch produced and broadcast by Community Television Network.

But there’s still work that needs to be done, such as continuing to work to make streets safer for cyclists and pedestrians, as well as investing in Ann Arbor’s “outdated” stormwater systems to create a capacity bulwark against the potential consequences of climate change.

Ackerman claims a deep understanding of the city due to having grown up in Ward 3 his whole life. He’s an alum of Burns Park, Tappan, Pioneer, and U of M. At the age of 13, while living in the Ann Arbor home that he grew up in and his parents live in to this day, he volunteered on his first political campaign.

Political activism continued into his early 20s, when he worked as a staffer for Congresswoman Debbie Dingell and Ann Arbor Mayor Christopher Taylor. Eventually Ackerman went on to a position on the Ann Arbor Democratic Party’s executive board.

Working downtown for Denison Consulting, Ackerman frequently draws on his professional background when deliberating on the business of the day that the city council faces. From this background he has developed a pragmatism when it comes to considering his position on an issue, frequently alluding to his private sector experiences and expressing a desire to adhere to a centrist’s fiscal caution; a step or two away from fiscal conservatism.

Observing him on council, it would appear that he anchors his more left-of-center policy goals and pursuits to this fiscal centrism with the good intention of ensuring that city government has the continued funding to move forward successfully on not just the initiative he’s voting on in the heat of the moment, but all of the initiatives that the city has in motion at any given moment.

“We have to identify ways we can be more efficient and make investments in areas that will save us money,” Ackerman said. “Just as important, we can never take on recurring costs unless we know how to pay for them long term.”

As he was brought into government at an impressionable age, Ackerman also promises to make Ann Arbor’s local government “more accessible, more understandable, and more helpful” for all city residents.

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