ANN ARBOR, MI — Mozhgan Savabieasfahani, an anti-Israel activist and staunch critic of Ann Arbor’s City Council, said she’s running for council in the 4th Ward again.
Savabieasfahani announced her campaign at a council meeting Monday night, Jan. 3, while carrying a pro-Palestinian sign with the message: “We are against military aid to Israel.”
“I am running for our human rights, for our environmental rights, against a City Council that is rotten with racism, a City Council that is racist to the bone against Palestinian people,” Savabieasfahani said publicly at city hall.
She plans to challenge Council Member Elizabeth Nelson, D-4th Ward, who confirmed she will seek reelection this year.
Nelson was elected to her first four-year term in 2018 and now faces two potential challengers in the Democratic primary in August. Dharma Akmon, an Ann Arbor District Library trustee and University of Michigan assistant research scientist, previously announced her campaign.
Savabieasfahani, an environmental toxicologist who does grant-funded research internationally, ran for council in 2020 and lost in a three-way primary against incumbent Jack Eaton and Jen Eyer. Eyer won with 61% of the vote, while Eaton netted 29% and Savabieasfahani had 10%.
Savabieasfahani has regularly demonstrated at council meetings for many years, decrying the killing of Palestinians by Israel and calling on council to pass resolutions to boycott Israel and call for an end to U.S. military aid for Israel, but council has stayed mostly silent on the issue.
“The American political system has been hijacked by money from the White House down to this outhouse,” Savabieasfahani said Monday night, accusing council members of being elected with the help of “mountains of campaign contributions with God only knows what kinds of strings attached.”
Nelson last week also expressed concerns about the influence of money in city elections, saying the amount of donations poured into campaigns in 2020 should be a wakeup call.
“That should be a huge red flag to people in our community who maybe weren’t previously paying attention,” she said, arguing people with money are picking city leaders and it’s gross.
In the 4th Ward race in 2020, Eyer reported nearly $44,000 in cash contributions to her campaign, plus over $2,000 worth of in-kind donations, while spending nearly $43,000. That included contributions from many residents and progressive activists, as well as groups such as the Realtors PAC of Michigan and Michigan Laborers Political League PAC.
In his pre-primary finance report in 2020, Eaton reported he loaned $10,000 of his own money to his campaign and raised another $6,500-plus in cash contributions, plus over $380 worth of in-kind donations, while spending nearly $16,000. He later reported over $1,000 in additional donations, including $500 from Council Member Kathy Griswold, D-2nd Ward.
Savabieasfahani put over $10,000 into her self-funded campaign last year.
Savabieasfahani’s platform includes support for public housing, clean water and a $15 minimum wage, all issues she doesn’t think the city is doing enough about.
“It’s not the first time that American officials have called themselves progressive while they pollute the land with racism and deprive people of the most basic human rights,” she said, also expressing her support for public health care, mass transit, labor unions and a city cleanup of the Gelman dioxane plume that threatens local water supplies.
“Why does this City Council fill the streets with luxury housing while doing nothing about public housing?” she said. “Why does this City Council fill the streets with bike paths without the kind of mass massive public transportation expansion that’s necessary to replace cars and to allow bikers some safety?”
Savabieasfahani has a campaign website at VoteForTheDoctor.com.