Getting to Know Ann Arbor City Council Candidate Jenn Cornell

ANN ARBOR –Jenn Cornell (D) is running to represent Ward 5 on the Ann Arbor City Council.

Cornell is a communications professional who has worked with many local nonprofits and businesses in her more than 20 years in the Ann Arbor community. For eight years, she owned Joust Strength + Fitness – the first fully female-owned CrossFit, Olympic weightlifting and kettlebell facility in the country, according to her campaign site.

She sits on several boards, including the Ecology Center, the Family Learning Institute, and the Main Street Area Association.

She is a mother of two daughters who attend Ann Arbor Public Schools and stepmother to two daughters who attend AAPS and Kalamazoo College.

The following interview was conducted via email.

What do you think are the biggest issues in Ann Arbor that the city council can tackle in the next few years?

One of the most exciting opportunities for the Ann Arbor City Council over the next few years is to work with the community to update the city’s land use plan. This is a chance for council members to work together and with citizens to plan how we will increase housing, protect green spaces and advance our a2Zero goals.

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Given my background in environmental advocacy, many of the issues that matter most to me have to do with reducing our carbon footprint – reducing commuters by increasing housing and ensuring that our infrastructure works on roads and sidewalks make our city more accessible on foot and by bike. Nationally, there is a housing shortage and housing is a pain point in Ann Arbor. I believe people who work here should be able to afford to live here. I believe seniors who want to stay in Ann Arbor but downsize should have housing options. I also believe that we should work to increase the number of units along transit corridors.

In your opinion, what are the main problems in your department? How do you propose to solve them?

I believe the issues facing Ward 5 are not unique to this part of Ann Arbor. We cannot have a modern, thriving city without properly investing in the fundamentals that make a city work. This includes direct urban services such as roads, water, sewer, gas and public safety – all of which require substantial investment.

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I believe we have the opportunity to invest in infrastructure that makes our roads safer for all commuters, including those on bikes or on foot. Numerous studies have shown that traffic calming makes all commuters safer. By providing opportunities to get around without a car, we also invite our community to embrace car-free transportation options, thereby reducing carbon emissions.

In addition to these direct services, we also need to ensure that Council makes good policy decisions on development, especially policies that promote and support new housing. It is essential that we have a steady stream of new homes coming online to support our growing population, and the Council must lead by example in this area.

I strongly support new construction of all types of housing in Ann Arbor, especially dense and affordable housing. We need more housing, especially multi-family housing along major economic and transit corridors to fully maximize our existing transit services. Also, in most cases, I oppose mandatory parking minimums because they exacerbate our society’s reliance on the automobile when improving access to public transit should be our top priority.

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Finally, the Gelman Plume is a concern for all of Ann Arbor. Currently, the EPA is considering intervening in the Gelman cleanup at the federal level. If it chooses not to go ahead with the project, Ann Arbor will need to work with partners and state agencies to move the site cleanup forward quickly and hold Gelman accountable for funding that work.

To accomplish this work, the City Council will need to be clear and collaborative in its communications with partners who can address pollution at the Gelman site, and I am confident that my past experience uniquely qualifies me as someone who will effective in defending Ann Arbor and Ward 5 on this issue.

What could Ann Arbor do better?

My grandfather used to say that there is always something to do in a house you love (often in response to my frustration with the endless list of things to do around the house) and I think that t is fair to see Ann Arbor in this same context.

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We are making progress on housing and infrastructure projects, but we could do much more faster to create housing and more affordable housing for teachers, nurses, laborers and service sector workers in Ann Arbor .

We’re making progress fixing sidewalks and city streets, but again, more can be done — faster — to ensure our infrastructure reflects the taxpayer dollars we pay for. have first-class municipal services. This work will be ongoing and, if elected, I will remain focused on these core priorities to improve life in Ann Arbor.

Additionally, when speaking to voters at the gates, there is frustration with what they perceive as a dysfunction within the city council. I often hear that citizens simply want good governance, without drama or distraction. I believe our leaders can do better to listen and be responsive to citizens, and work together with dignity and respect to achieve the goals we have in common.

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Why did you decide to run for municipal elections?

I’m running for city council because I believe it’s important to have a pro-housing, pro-environment, and working family voice at the table. I believe Ward 5 can be better represented in a way that reflects the values ​​of most of my neighbors who agree that we have a housing crisis here, should do more to accelerate our A2Zero goals and want City Council to work together, in collaboration, for the benefit of Ann Arbor.

As a two-time founder and business owner in Ann Arbor, I will also bring a unique perspective on the economic development and value of Main Street businesses to board conversations, particularly as they relate to attraction of investment, the creation and maintenance of jobs and the guarantee the city is known to be a destination not only for locals, but also for visitors. My experience will also translate into strong communication, finance and project management skills on the board; I will work with City staff and my colleagues to advance our common interests.

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I’m running because I want to be a voice for people like me – someone who raises young children in the city, cares deeply about the environment, and wants Ann Arbor to be a welcoming home for those who live here. now as well as those who want to be part of our community but currently do not have the means to do so.

What do you like about Ann Arbor?

I’m a big fan of downtown shopping and can find just about anything you want to eat or drink within a few blocks, visit cool retail stores, and get lost in a bookstore or the library. I love our parks and green spaces – I feel so blessed to have Eberwhite Woods near my home for a walk or a run, or just some nature time with my kids.

I love that Ann Arbor is known as an innovation hub with a strong tech ecosystem and is also known for having a thriving downtown where small businesses are also thriving. I love being able to live in a neighborhood where every day you can find several bikes in a neighbor’s yard and kids playing in the back yard.

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There is a sense of community and a sense of belonging that is truly special in Ann Arbor and I am grateful to be able to experience that for myself and with my family.

For more information, visit her campaign website at

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