Hello, my name is Ryan Hughes. I think there is a lot more that the city could be doing to make sure that there is a place in Ann Arbor for everybody who wants to live here. I decided to run for city council because I wanted to make sure there was someone saying new things about such ideas as:
Some of the ideas I have may be outside the acceptable political spectrum, but I want to present my ideas and let the voters make the decision. Compromises are an important tactic in negotiating for what you want, but here, I want to show you the types of things I will be aiming for. If there’s one thing I took away from the Bernie Sanders campaign, it is that people are ready to vote for candidates who have radical, inspiring ideas.
Therefore, I invite you to read my ideas and see the way I think.
Note that I am running as an Independent, and therefore, I will not be on the August 7 primary ballot. Instead, I will be on the November 6 general election ballot.
I have told you my ideas. But who am I?
I created The Michigan Organizer, an online events calendar that keeps track of the activist work being done by the amazing community of activists we have in Michigan. After Donald Trump won the election, I could not sleep until I had done something about it, and this was the first thing I did.
I am a computer programmer. My day job is with the University of Michigan. I also work on open-source projects in my spare time whenever I can. Here’s what I was working on most recently: a client-side encryption plugin for Roundcube webmail.
Since 2005, I have been a volunteer DJ on 88.3 WCBN-FM. I do a show on Wednesday mornings, 6-9am, where I tend to feature music made by women and transgender/gender-nonconforming individuals. You can take a gander at my playlists to see what kinds of things I play.
Since 2007, I have written and performed marionnette shows with the Dreamland Theater puppet troupe.
Speaking of which…
You may have seen my #1 campaign volunteer out with me. I adopted Juliet through the Motor City Greyhound Rescue. She is a big fan of being petted, and of meeting people and dogs.
I also put a picture of her on Wikipedia. You can find her relaxing on the couch if you look up Greyhounds.
I spent several years on the board of directors of the Inter-Cooperative Council (ICC), a cooperative housing nonprofit that houses some 500 people in Ann Arbor. I was one of about 30 people on the board of directors. That board operated using a consensus process derived from the consensus decision-making process.
In traditional politics with majority voting, the goal is to gather enough votes that you can shut out your opposition. In the consensus process, this is not possible. Instead, everybody must work together to come up with proposals that everybody can agree on.
In traditional politics, if you disagree with a proposal, you vote “no”, and you either win or lose. In the ICC’s consensus process, if you disagree with a proposal, you join the original authors on a “reconciliation committee”, to re-work the proposal into something you can all agree on. When proposals went through this process, they would always come out stronger.
The Ann Arbor city council does not work by the consensus process, but my political style is shaped by the time I lived in the co-op. I will not be thinking of anybody as my enemy, who must be shut out. I will not be thinking of dissenting opinions as something to steamroll over. I will be thinking of disagreement as an opportunity to learn and to come up with better ideas.
I am running as an Independent in this race. But that does not mean that I am not a friend of the Democratic party. In fact, I am a member of the Michigan Democratic Party, as well as the Ann Arbor Democratic Club. I have served the Democratic party, and intend to continue to do so.
I created and hosted Yousef Rabhi’s campaign website for his first campaign, for Washtenaw county commission. He won by one vote, so everybody who convinced someone else to vote for him can claim that they got the winning vote. My story is that I was talking about him on my radio program on 88.3 WCBN on election day, and two people called in to say they were going to vote for him.
I have phonebanked with the “Michigan Resistance” organization, to engage Democratic voters to stop ill-conceived Republican bills at the state level. Another thing we have worked on is to try to revive the Eastern Washtenaw Democratic Club.
I donated to Bernie Sanders in the 2016 presidential primary, and knocked doors for Hillary Clinton in the general election.
I run an activist calendar website called The Michigan Organizer. Among other things, it lists as many Democratic Party meetings as I can find, as well as all of Abdul El-Sayed’s campaign events, and the events of several other Democratic candidates.
The Democratic Party has done some things that I disagree with. Sometimes, prominent party members fail to take sufficiently progressive positions. To me, the solution to this problem is not to abandon the party, but to engage with it. Dana Nessel is a progressive candidate for Secretary of State. She won the Michigan Democratic Party’s nomination because a bunch of people engaged with the Democratic Party at the grassroots level. This is what the party needs, in order to push it in the right direction – which is to say, the left direction!
Given all this, why am I running as an Independent, rather than running as a Democrat? I did not intend to challenge the incumbent, Sumi Kailasapathy. By the time I learned that she had decided not to seek re-election, it was too late to register as a Democrat. Her decision took a lot of people by surprise, and I was one of them. She gathered petitions to get on the ballot for re-election, and simply never filed them. I didn’t learn of this decision until it was too late to file as a Democrat. But we need someone on the council who will champion progressive causes, and have a positive vision of what the City could be doing. So I decided I ought to run, even if that meant running as an Independent.