Ypsilanti Mayoral Race: What Signage (and other things) Tells Me

To be honest, I haven’t been following the issues about the race for mayor of Ypsilanti, and I am not even sure I’ll be voting– I would have to vote absentee since I’ll be out of town, and getting the ballot and all of the rig-a-ma-roll involved in that…..

Anyway, of the two candidates that are really running (there is a third, but Lois Richardson really seems to me to be running a stealth campign at best), I’d probably vote for Paul Schreiber, if for no other reason because he really does seem like a “real” Democrat. I mean, just look at this guy:

Paul Schreiber

Casual, earth tone, open collar shirt with a sports jacket thrown on as an after-thought, proudly bald. That’s a liberal.

Now, compare that with Steve Pierce.

Steve Pierce

Pressed white dress shirt with striped tie, tight to the somewhat chubby neck, slicked down hair, well-thought jacket. That’s a conservative.

Actually, that’s been the scuttle-butt in this whole election, that in a town where it is simply impossible for a Republican to win the race, Steve Pierce became a Democrat. I don’t know if that is or isn’t the case, and I also don’t want to turn away late joiners of the the Dems. Better late than never, right?

But I have to say that there are some signs– literally– that Pierce isn’t really quite all that much of a Democrat’s Democrat. For starters, there’s the sign (a picture I took on a walk with Sophie):

Pierce for Mayor?

That American flag with the bold, ALL CAPS, sans-serif font is practically a copy of the BUSH-CHENEY bumper sticker/sign campaign.

But besides that, I’m a little suspcious of where these signs are showing up. Around town, it seems like every rental property has a PIERCE sign, and every single family home has a Schreiber sign. And in my neighborhood, the one house where I can count on “conservative values” being on display (eg, they have various flags flying, yellow ribbons, and NRA sticker on the front door, etc.) has like four or five PIERCE signs.

So, I don’t know. I’ve heard good things about Pierce and I don’t want to make him guilty by association. But….

11 thoughts on “Ypsilanti Mayoral Race: What Signage (and other things) Tells Me”

  1. Interesting observations; But I’m not sure they reflect anything about the candidates abilities to be a good mayor. I’ll be voting for Steve Pierce for several reasons.
    Steve is my neighbor. I have seen Steve and his wife rescue one of Ypsilanti’s most beautiful historic homes from the dilapidation brought on by previous occupants to a glowing resurrected architectural gem. His energy and spirit are contagious.
    Mr. Schreiber may be a fine fellow. I really don’t know him. But he is endorsed by the outgoing mayor and many of the current city council members. Considering the financial quagmire to which that group has collectively brought the city-I take their endorsement of Mr. Schreiber as an extension of the same policies, planning and thinking-or lack there- of.

    Ypsilanti needs a mayor who is more concerned about it’s viability and stability than how “Democratic” a Democrat he or she appears to be.

    Alan Young Historic Southside

  2. Gerry and I have a Pierce sign in front of our single family home. Actually, Steve, if we were to go on looks I would guess that you were closer to the conservative archetype that you describe.

    The Schreiber campaign lost credibility with me after they spread misleading information about Steve Pierce via the defunct Ypsilanti Campaign for Equality, putting it into people’s heads that he has some anti-gay agenda. It was a cheap shot, and untrue. For the so-called “true Democrat”, Schreiber sure doesn’t seem to think twice about using tactics that I associate with the far right.

    I agree with the writer above. Anyway, what Republican would buy and live in a house one block from Michigan Avenue in downtown Ypsilanti?

    You can do it! Break away from the Normal Park groupthink, research the candidates and you’ll want a Pierce sign, too.

    I did a very unusual thing after getting my sign. I think there was something about seeing the flag in my front yard that made me go out and edge my lawn.


  3. I’ve heard this bit about the Campaign for Equality. For me, the Schreiber campaign trying to put the wrong idea into people’s heads about how Pierce feels about the anti-gay agenda (which is a position the Schreiber people have denied, btw) seems like a convoluted reason to support or not support someone.

    Having said that, I’m not entirely sure that the reason to support someone is because they are clearly a “lifelong Democrat,” either. It’s tricky for me who to pick for support because while Pierce is against an income tax (I’m for it in the sense that I think some kind of local income tax is unfortunately inevitable in Ypsi), he is also for working harder at pooling resources between the city, township, and county (this just makes sense to me, though it’s hard to find a model for this in Michigan). And vice-versa.

    So I don’t personally have strong emotions about either one of them.

  4. I don’t know how the Schreiber campaign can deny trying to put the wrong idea into people’s heads when they paid for the letter to go out. Gerry asked Schreiber about the letter and he said “these things happen.” So things will just “happen” when he’s Mayor?

    I know good people on both campaigns (Richardson had been ruled out), didn’t know the candidates personally, and the people who do know them say nice things about them. So I was looking for something to sway me. When I received the letter I thought it was inflammatory, and looking further into it I discovered that it was also dishonest. Sending it was irresponsible and unreasonable. If that reflects upon the sender (which I hold Schreiber to as his campaign paid for it), then those are not qualities I’m looking for in an elected official. Plus, the best thing that his supporters could come up with for trying to convince me to vote for him was telling me who the other neighbors were who were supporting him. You gotta give me something better than that.

    So maybe that’s convoluted, but it’s what they’ve given me to go on. At least it’s deeper than going on their looks. I think you were being facetious in your post, but I’ve talked to a lot of people who are turned off by Pierce’s style and seem to have difficulty getting beyond his polo shirts. I’ve met Pierce and he told me about his experiences working in and with the city. I personally am not opposed to paying an income tax, but I believe it would be bad overall for Ypsi, so if Pierce has ideas to avoid them then let him have a voice on city council. Schreiber is advocating the tax, but if the referendum doesn’t pass then what is the backup plan? The 2020 Task Force will have to come up with that, I suppose.

    I think it’s interesting that you say you don’t have strong emotions about either candidate. It does seem that people are going on their emotions rather than knowledge. I spoke to a woman at the pool yesterday that said that she thinks Pierce would be better but that her heart is with Schreiber. Interesting, because the Schreiber campaign does seem more about playing on people’s emotions.


  5. Steve, I gotta tell ya, labeling & judging people simply on their appearance is going to get you labelled “prejudiced,” or worse, a “racist.” Be careful, my friend.

  6. Wait a minute here:

    * I think you need to lighten up a bit here and recognize that I’m just making an observation about appearances and signage. That’s a long ways away from being “prejudiced” or “racist.”

    * As I’ve said here and as I said in a more recent post, I don’t have that much invested in this election, I think mainly because both of the major candidates seem to have strengths and weaknesses, both of the major candidates seem reasonably qualified, and both of the candidates have a whole lot of trouble to take on in Ypsi.

    * As I’ve also said in my more recent post, my sense is that Pierce is going to win anyway. So good for him.

  7. The Pierce campaign has yet to respond to the widely noted fact that a very high number of his signs are in the yards of landlord owned buildings. Apparently they reflect Pierce’s support among his fellow landlords. And as for his business sense — he helped lead us into the Water Street fiasco by helping to pick the first developer! So what if he bought a nice old home and fixed it up beautifully, how is that a qualification for elected office?

  8. I agree, I think Steve’s comments were about style, and I think we all judge people to a certain extent by that. The thing is, I’m not going to the polls to elect someone for me to hang out with. I don’t care what they look like if they can get the city out of this mess. Hell, I don’t even care if they really are a Republican if they can do that.

  9. When it comes to talking about the way these two guys look, I was really just poking fun. But you have to admit that it is kind of funny (both in a “ha-ha” and a not so “ha-ha” way). The only thing I had heard about Pierce before I had started to kind of pay even a itsy-bit of attention to this campaign is that Pierce is really a Republican. Now, I don’t think that’s actually true, but I don’t think his yard signs, which looks quite a bit like the Bush/Chenney signs to me, do him a lot of good on that score.

    And it also seems to me that if someone is running for elected office, they put themselves out there to be judged by potential voters– how they talk, how they shake your hand, what campign slogans they have, and yes, even how they dress. That’s a hell of a lot different than me making a judgement about the appearances of some anonymous man or woman.

    So maybe Steve ought to loosen the tie. :-)

    But on a more serious note here, there is an issue for me about Pierce’s signs, “association,” and rental properties. The reason why someone puts a political sign out in their yard (or a bumper sticker on their car) is to point out to the public at large some sort of affinity with that candidate (or cause). I have an “Impeach Bush” sticker on the back of my car, for example, because I think we ought to impeach Bush. I had a Gore/Liberman sign and a Kerry/Edwards sign because I thought we should have elected those folks as President.

    Now, along these lines, political candidates (and their operatives) presumably want to place signs in front of certain houses/properties to indicate the connection/affinity between themselves and the constituent. This is probably less true in presidental politics, but it is certainly true in local politics.

    And this gets back to what I mentioned in my original post, and also what Mark brought up: why does every rental property in town seem to have a Pierce sign on it? I’ve had good landlords, but generally, I’m suspicious of them, having (of course) been a renter before being a current a home owner and having also been ripped off by more than once.

    So to me, that’s a question, and I think Mark is right in wondering about an answer.

    Anybody got one?

  10. Steve – I thought your observations were actually quite astute and definitely funny. I think most people probably get it. I don’t think you should try to defend your clever, spot-on observations about these guys; you’re just pointing out the obvious archetypes our divisive society has created, and poking some freakin’ fun. You’re right — I thought Pierce looked like a smarmy, corrupt, fat, bigoted republican too. But I’m still voting for him, because voting for Schreiber would be stupid, regardless of his proudly bald, earthtone enhanced, pleasantly non-threatening visage. GO CLOSET REPUBLICAN!!!!!

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