Welcome to Ann Arbor Votes!
Informed voters are key to a healthy community – that's why we created Ann Arbor Votes, a resource for residents to learn about local candidates and ballot proposals. It's a project of The CivCity Initiative, a nonpartisan Ann Arbor-based nonprofit that's fighting civic apathy and inspiring people to get involved in our community year-round. Ann Arbor Votes is also made possible with generous support of The Buhr Foundation, the James A. & Faith Knight Foundation, the Ann Arbor Awesome Foundation, and the Ann Arbor Area Spirit of Woodstock Fund.
Why aren't we providing voter information for all communities in Washtenaw County – wouldn't that be great? Agreed! That's our goal, but we don't yet have funding for that scope. We hope to expand this voter resource for future elections, if we can raise sufficient financial support. Want to help? Donate here!
WE'RE GLAD YOU'RE HERE!
Most people share at least two common opinions about local elections: 1) They want to be more informed when they vote, but 2) it's hard to find information about local candidates and ballot issues. (Ok, if I'm being honest there's often another response too: "We have local elections?")
We're here to help.
We started CivCity to tackle a seemingly intractable problem in American democracy: widespread disillusionment and apathy toward government at all levels, and an increasingly toxic political discourse.
Low voter turnout, particularly in local elections, is the most obvious symptom of disengagement. But this crisis in our democracy goes far beyond the election cycle. It’s reflected in how we view our year-round responsibility as citizens, and in how we perceive our relationship with the people we elect to oversee the work of local, state and federal government.
Using Ann Arbor as a proof of concept, CivCity is working to achieve a dramatic cultural shift, expanding the set of people who are knowledgeable about their government and who are eager to participate in local civic life – because participation is easy, expected, and even entertaining. Starting in our community, we can build a replicable model for civic literacy and positive engagement nationwide.
So our vision is much more ambitious than simply increasing voter turnout. That said, our nation's representative democracy depends on having an informed, engaged electorate. And that's why we created Ann Arbor Votes.
This is our first attempt to build a useful, lively resource for residents to learn about candidates and issues you'll see on the ballot – both in the Aug. 2 primary and in the Nov. 8 general election. We'll be adding information throughout the election cycle, so check back for updates.
Thanks so much for visiting – and for helping build a stronger, more vibrant civic culture in Ann Arbor!
CivCity is a 501(c)(3) nonpartisan nonprofit based in Ann Arbor. Our staff currently consists of one full-time employee – Mary Morgan, executive director. She was publisher and co-founder of The Ann Arbor Chronicle, an online news publication that covered local government from 2008-2014.
CivCity is governed by the following Board of Directors, who are all Ann Arbor residents and community leaders:
Devon Akmon: Executive director of the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn. Devon holds a master’s degree in historic preservation from Eastern Michigan University. He is a graduate of the Michigan Nonprofit Association’s Emerging Leaders Class IX and Leadership Detroit Class XXXIV. In 2013, Devon was named one of Crain’s Detroit Business magazine’s “40 Under 40” business leaders. He is a former Ann Arbor public art commissioner.
Paul Courant: University of Michigan Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, Harold T. Shapiro Collegiate Professor of Public Policy, Professor of Economics, Professor of Information, and Faculty Associate in the Institute for Social Research. From 2007-2013 Paul was University Librarian and Dean of Libraries at UM. From 2002-2005 he served as UM Provost and Executive Vice-President for Academic Affairs, the chief academic officer and the chief budget officer of the University, He has also served as the Associate Provost for Academic and Budgetary Affairs, Chair of the Department of Economics and Director of the Institute of Public Policy Studies (which is now the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy). In 1979 and 1980, during the Carter administration, he was a Senior Staff Economist for the Council of Economic Advisers.
Mary Morgan: Founder, executive director and president of The CivCity Initiative. She was co-founder and former publisher of The Ann Arbor Chronicle, an online news publication that operated from 2008-2014 covering local government and civic affairs. She worked for The Ann Arbor News from 1996-2008, over the years serving as opinion editor, business editor and columnist. In addition to her career in journalism, Mary taught English in the People’s Republic of China and the Central African Republic. She was born and raised in Indianapolis, and earned graduate and undergraduate degrees from Indiana University. She was the 2016-17 inaugural Community Leader in Residence for the University of Michigan Ginsberg Center, and serves on the Ann Arbor Public Schools Blue Ribbon Advisory Group.
Ingrid Sheldon: Community leader and former Ann Arbor mayor. She has served on the boards of several Ann Arbor area nonprofits and community service groups over the years, including the Ann Arbor Summer Festival, Ann Arbor Civic Theatre and Ann Arbor Rotary Club. Ingrid previously was a member of the boards of the Michigan Municipal League and Michigan Association of Mayors.
Wendy Woods: Associate director of the Michigan Community Scholars program at the University of Michigan. Wendy is a member of the Ann Arbor planning commission and served as an Ann Arbor city councilmember from 2001-2007, representing Ward 5. She is a member of UM's Women of Color Task Force, the Negro Business and Professional Women's Clubs, the Ecology Center, the Sierra Club, and The Links Inc. Her honors include the Woman of the Year in Human Resources award from the UM Women of Color Task Force and the UM Ginsberg Center Award for Service and Social Action.
CivCity Board Member Emeritus:
Linh Song: An Ann Arbor District Library trustee, board member of the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation, and former executive director of the Ann Arbor Educational Foundation. She has direct experience with startup nonprofits, including her work as founder of the nonprofit Mam Non Organization. She also directed a technology support program at Nonprofit Enterprise at Work in Ann Arbor, and is former executive director of Ethica, an adoption and anti- trafficking group in Washington. She is former co-chair of the Ann Arbor Awesome Foundation and serves on the boards of The Neutral Zone and the University Musical Society. Linh was a founding board member of CivCity, and her service spanned from 2015-2016.
CivCity’s Vision: Ann Arbor’s community-wide culture of civic engagement – infused with diverse ways to participate in local government and civic life – will serve as a national model for re-energized democracy.
CivCity’s Mission: To expand Ann Arbor residents’ knowledge of how local government works, and to increase participation in civic life through education, information and outreach.
CivCity's work fits into four overarching goals:
GOAL 1: Identify and pursue projects that will help residents of all ages learn about local government and encounter opportunities for civic involvement in everyday life.
GOAL 2: Reach traditionally disengaged parts of the community, including low-income residents and youth.
GOAL 3: Develop mechanisms for providing news and information about the actions of local government entities, and build systems to ensure widespread, ongoing distribution.
GOAL 4: Increase informed, meaningful participation in local elections.