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Ann Arbor City Council Ward 5

The City Council is the legislative body that governs the city. The City Council consists of the Mayor and ten Council members, two from each of Ann Arbor's five wards. One half of City Council is elected every two years in even-year partisan elections. Members serve four-year terms.

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    Ali Ramlawi
    (Dem)

Biographical Information

What in your education and experience make you the best qualified candidate for this position?

What are your goals should you be elected and how will you work to accomplish them with current resources?

What would you like to see happen with growth and density in Ann Arbor in the next ten years?

How do you plan to communicate with the residents in your ward?

Number of years as resident 17 years
I have owned and operated Jerusalem Garden, a downtown restaurant, since 1993 and I have lived in the Old West Side neighborhood for almost 20 years. My roots in Ann Arbor go back to 1985 when I worked in my parents’ grocery store, Ralph’s Market on Packard Street, and later at Jerusalem Garden.

I withdrew during my freshman year at Michigan State to return to Ann Arbor to run the family business after my father passed away. Taking over the family business at the age of 18 was life-changing; I continued my formal education locally while learning on-the-job how to run a small business. Twenty-five years later, I am humbled by what I have accomplished and proud of my success as an entrepreneur and a member of our community.

I credit my success to being principled, having integrity, and maximizing resources for the best possible outcome. I believe these qualities are what make me best qualified to represent the residents of the 5th Ward.
I will pursue an honest dialogue that will result in a fair debate on our City’s important issues like development, road and street repairs and supporting local small businesses. I will advance the discussion of affordability so that we address this crisis beyond the supply side of housing.

(1) Development ought to add value to our community and we must ask more from developers to offset the infrastructure and environmental costs borne by residents and business owners.

(2) Road and street repairs. In the first year of the Mental Health & Safety Millage rebate, I would use up to half, 50%, to help accelerate road repairs.

(3) Create and fund empowerment zones to incubate small retail businesses that do not serve food or alcohol and have revenues of less than half a million annually by offsetting their property tax bills with funds generated by the DDA.
I would like to see growth respond to our community’s needs and be within the City’s Master Plan. I believe we can allow for growth and density while maintaining our community’s values and quality of life.

To accommodate growth and density in Ann Arbor, our city will need to invest significantly in our infrastructure – roads, sidewalks, water and sewer systems.

As a business owner and entrepreneur, I recognize the benefits of private development. I believe growth and density is best when driven by market forces that follow the Master Plan and current zoning rules. Variances should be rare and zoning changes should take place in a broader discussion when revising the Master Plan every five years.

Ann Arbor does need to grow and develop, but not at the expense of existing property owners and neighborhoods. Today’s political discussion has pitted citizens against each other – it’s time to move beyond labels and ideologies, talk more substance and work for the people of the city.
I believe person-to-person exchanges are the best form of communication. I work downtown and speak to many people. I expect these public engagements with residents to continue when I am a Council member.

In addition to informal meetings, I plan to hold bi-monthly constituent hours, alternating mornings and evenings, and rotating to different areas of Ward 5 so that all residents have an opportunity to attend.

Responding to emails from residents will be a top priority and the most direct way I will communicate. In addition to email, I plan to use social media to share announcements and general information and provide an electronic newsletter updating constituents on City Council matters.

I will work with my colleagues on Council and the other Ward 5 Council member to collaborate communication efforts for Ward 5 residents.