John Hieftje, longest-serving mayor in Ann Arbor history, teaches Local Government, Opportunity for Activism

November 14, 2014

Mayor John Hieftje, a lecturer at the Ford School, chose to not seek reelection after serving 14 years in office. Sunday, November 9 was his last day as mayor, with newly-elected mayor Christopher Taylor assuming the position at midnight November 10. Under Hiefje’s leadership, Ann Arbor emerged from last decade’s recession stronger than many Michigan cities. “I feel like I’ve accomplished everything I ever really set out to do, and things are going well,” said Hieftje in his exit interview with Ryan Stanton of The Ann Arbor News.

Hieftje’s mayoral career has been widely applauded by his peers. At his final City Council meeting, each member praised his leadership. “I think your tenure as mayor of Ann Arbor has been a tremendous credit to the city,” said Christopher Taylor, incoming mayor. “You’ve set a series of progressive, forward-looking goals for us … and had the diligence and skill to achieve those goals.”

Although Hieftje has retired from formal politics, he remains a lecturer at the Ford School, a post he has held since 2006. This winter, he will teach Local Government, Opportunity for Activism, which is described as a course that “goes beyond the structure and theory of municipal government to look at how things really happen at the local level.”

Ben Falik (MPP ’09), executive director of Repair the World’s Detroit headquarters, found Hieftje’s course extremely valuable: “The great thing about Mayor Hieftje’s class is that it’s not about what could, should, or would happen in local government, but what is happening right outside the classroom. If all politics is, in fact, local, there’s no better place to learn and participate.”

“Students who are interested in getting into politics at any level should recognize the fact that a lot of people who are in politics got their start in local government,” Hieftje told Michigan Daily reporter Emma Kerr in "After 14 years, Hieftje leaves lasting legacy on city policies," which ran on November 16 “I believe people can influence the government much more at the local level.”

The Ford School congratulates Hieftje on his time as mayor and welcomes him back for the upcoming semester.