Republican Albert Howard says he plans to challenge Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje for his seat this year
Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com
Albert Howard, a Republican from the city's 3rd Ward, pulled petitions on Thursday and spent part of the weekend going door-to-door collecting signatures from voters.
The deadline to file to appear on the ballot is May 15.
"I've noticed that the Democratic mayor's been in for a while and I just wanted to challenge him as a Republican," Howard said.
A lifelong Ann Arbor resident and 1984 graduate of Huron High School, Howard waged a campaign for president of the United States in 2008, believing he was instructed by the "Angel of the Lord" to run against Hillary Clinton.
Howard and his wife have eight children, all of whom joined him while collecting petition signatures on Sunday in Ann Arbor.
Asked what sets him apart from Hieftje, Howard cited the controversy over so-called "smart meters," which DTE Energy is installing on homes throughout the city. Hieftje has said he doesn't see a problem with them but some residents are concerned they pose a health risk.
"I want him to really consider the DTE Energy situation with the things that they're putting on the sides of the houses," Howard said. "He said he's going to consider it. I personally wouldn't allow it. I would not allow that on the side of the houses, the smart meters."
University Bank President Stephen Ranzini and Tom Wall, a retired special education teacher, both previously indicated they were exploring mayoral campaigns this year. Ranzini decided against it and Wall said he's likely not going to wage a campaign now either.
He also fended off Democratic challenger Patricia Lesko in the August 2010 primary with 83.9 percent of the vote compared to Lesko's 15.6 percent.