Welcome! My name is Elizabeth Nelson (aka A2ELNEL) and I served on Ann Arbor City Council from 2018 to 2022. I know how our local government works and I believe that residents should, too. The content on this website is designed to help our community connect to the work of their representatives. Our democracy is stronger when elected leaders are accountable to the people they represent.

Ann Arbor City Council Information

Next Ann Arbor City Council Meeting

Thursday August 8th 7pm

(Legistar Link)

Ann Arbor City Council meets on the first and third Monday of every month at 7pm (with exceptions for holidays).

Council Meetings are held in person on the second floor of City Hall. Public commentary is available either in person or via phone/Zoom. See the Legistar link above for details.

Public Comment

In November 2022, Council voted to eliminate open, unreserved public comment at the end of meetings.

If you plan to attend or watch a City Council meeting and think you might want to make a public comment, you must call the Ann Arbor City Clerk (734-794-6140) between 8am and 5pm on the day of the meeting. More information is on the City Clerk’s webpage.

A2Council.com Meeting Summaries

After each Council meeting, I publish summaries of agenda items at A2Council.com, along with Legistar links, posts I’ve written, and articles published on MLive. I also provide links to the agenda on the City’s Legistar website, CTN’s YouTube video of the meeting, and to my newsletters and voting charts.

Latest A2Council Summary: July 15, 2024

A2Council Update Videos

I have also started making summary videos of Ann Arbor City Council meetings. Visit my YouTube channel for more videos.

Latest Ann Arbor City Council Newsletter

Ann Arbor City Council Newsletter (July 13, 2024)

Ann Arbor City Council Newsletter (July 13, 2024)

This week, the Ann Arbor City Council meeting includes four public hearings: amended zoning for the redevelopment of State/Stimson into “SouthTown”, the establishment of a Business Improvement Zone (“BIZ”) at State & Eisenhower, the annexation of 2862 Stone School Road, and the annexation of 3801 Stone School Road. On the rest of the agenda, Council will consider a resolution directing training and prevention related to hate crimes, and a rezoning on Nixon Road to allow expansion of the Owl Creek apartment community.

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Latest Ann Arbor City Council Voting Chart

Subscribe To My Newsletter

I write an Ann Arbor City Council newsletter with my summary of agenda items coming before Ann Arbor City Council, plus news and events of interest to Ann Arbor residents. I send my newsletter out the weekend before every Council meeting so that you can see what’s on the agenda and have an opportunity to reach out to City Council with any concerns.

The weekend after Council meetings, I send an "A2Council Update" newsletter with my voting charts and highlights of how issues were decided.

Ann Arbor Democracy Interviews

I have begun a project of interviews to explore the recent history and current reality of Ann Arbor democracy. I am recording conversations with people who have worked to influence local politics as activists in our community and more formally at City Hall. Below are links to conversations about how our local leaders are elected and how political decisions are made: what this looked like in the past and what it looks like now.

Jerry DeGrieck

For a brief period of time in the early 1970s, Ann Arbor’s elected city government included three political parties: Democrats, Republicans, and a third party: the Human Rights Party (or HRP). In 1972, two members of the Human Rights Party won elections to Ann Arbor City Council: Jerry DeGrieck from Ward 1 and Nancy Wechsler from Ward 2. Jerry and Nancy served for one term (two years).

In our conversation, Jerry explains how the HRP and other groups worked together in advocating for progressive policy that was not yet embraced by the two major parties. He talks about what he and Nancy Wechsler were able to accomplish as members of City Council and how that work led them to both come out publicly as gay and lesbian. Jerry’s activism in Ann Arbor inspired his continued activism and professional career in Seattle.

Ed Pear

The Ann Arbor City Council of 1972 included four democrats (including the mayor), five republicans, and two members of the Human Rights Party. This composition forced council members from different parties to collaborate and compromise to find a six vote majority. In 1973 elections, Republicans gained a seven vote majority that included Mayor James Stephenson. A Republican-majority City Council appointed both a new City Administrator (Sy Murray) and a new City Attorney (Ed Pear).

Ed Pear served as Ann Arbor City Attorney from 1973-1975. In our conversation, Ed explains how he first got the job and how the City’s legal department engaged with and supported elected members of Council. Ed observed long meetings and passionate debate among elected leaders working hard to represent their constituents. We talk about some of the controversies that were debated during that time, including the contested election of 1975. Ed has lived in Ann Arbor his whole life and still practices law at Pear Sperling Eggan & Daniels, P.C.

Shirley Beckley

For decades, many African American families lived in neighborhoods on the north and west side. Residents in areas we now call Kerrytown and Water Hill were over 35% non-white. In the 1960s, plans for urban renewal targeted these communities and displaced families. During a period of activism in the 1970s, members of the black community in Ann Arbor challenged power structures in our schools and local government.

Shirley Beckley is longtime local resident, activist, and historian of the African American community in Ann Arbor. She was eye witness to violent incidents in the 1970s involving black residents and the police. Shirley protested policies in the public schools and City police department that threatened the black children and youth in Ann Arbor. In our conversation, she talks about changes she’s seen in Ann Arbor, how her former neighborhood was gentrified, and the difference between activism then and now. Shirley can no longer afford to live in Ann Arbor and now lives just outside the City.

Colleen McGee

In 1974, Ann Arbor City Council Members Jerry DeGrieck (Ward 1) and Nancy Wechsler (Ward 2) finished their terms and decided not to run for re-election. Jerry and Nancy had served as members of a progressive third party called the Human Rights Party or HRP. In 1974 City Council elections, the HRP fielded multiple candidates but won only one seat; Kathy Kozachenko (Ward 2) was the first openly gay/lesbian candidate to win election to public office in the United States. Kathy took the seat previously held by Nancy Wechsler.

In 1974, a Democrat named Colleen McGee narrowly beat an HRP candidate and a Republican to win the Ward 1 City Council seat previously held by Jerry DeGrieck. During her term (1974-1976), Colleen served first under Republican Mayor James Stephenson and – after the contested election of 1975 – then Democratic Mayor Al Wheeler. In our conversation, Colleen talks about gerrymandered ward boundaries, rent control, political organizing, the removal of a junkyard at what is now Wheeler park, and debates around growth and development. Years after her term on Council, Colleen learned that she had been under surveillance by the FBI.

Phil Carroll

In the 1970s, activists in Ann Arbor participated in a leftist, political alternative called the Human Rights Party or HRP. Locally and across the state of Michigan, the HRP fielded candidates and led ballot initiatives around progressive causes. During this period, the HRP met regularly to debate policy, craft platforms, and promote candidates. They successfully won three Ann Arbor City Council seats, two in 1972 and one in 1974. Many more HRP members were active behind the scenes and participated in other campaigns as candidates.

In 1973, Phil Carroll ran for City Council in Ward 4 as a member of HRP. In that race, a republican, Richard Hadler, won a plurality of the vote, beating both Carroll and democrat Ethel Lewis. In that race and the mayoral race of 1973, the HRP was widely seen as splitting the vote and causing republican victories. In our conversation, Phil and I talk about the work of organizing as a third party, his candidacy for US Congress, and the challenges of pushing back on the status quo.

Lou Belcher

In the 1970s, Democrats and Republicans were actively engaged in Ann Arbor City government. One of the leading Republicans of the era was Louis (Lou) Belcher. As chair of the Ann Arbor Republican Party, he ran unsuccessfully for Mayor in 1971, represented Ward 5 on City Council from 1974 to 1978, and served as Mayor from 1978-1985.

In the Mayoral race of 1977, then-Council Member Lou Belcher challenged incumbent Democratic Mayor Al Wheeler. In that tight election, Wheeler won by a single vote. The discovery of invalid ballots – cast by people ineligible to vote – resulted in court challenges. Wheeler’s term was extended by one year to allow for a “do-over” election in 1978, which Belcher won. Among other accomplishments Mayor, Lou Belcher helped save affordable housing units Arrowwood Housing Co-operative and committed City funds to the Michigan Theater to preserve it as a community venue.