Q&A with City Council Primary Winner Zachary Ackerman

Zachary Ackerman, 21 year old U-M student and son of AARC members Erica and Mark, won the August 4, 2015 primary for 3rd ward City Councilperson and will run unopposed in the November election.  In the busy days following his primary victory, Zach kindly agreed to answer a few questions about his experiences, including his Jewish upbringing.


Emily Eisbruch (EE): Congratulations Zach!  How do you balance your campaign with the responsibilities of being a University of Michigan student?
Zachary Ackerman (ZA) : Balance in one’s personal life is always difficult to strike. Luckily, being a student allows for flexibility. This summer, when I really hit the campaign trail running, I was working full time at the University’s IT department. From time to time, people will express concern about how I will balance work on Council with work as a student. The reality is that I will only be both a student and a representative on Council for one or two meetings.

EE: How has this campaign experience compared to your expectations? What have you learned?  What are your hopes moving forward?
ZA: I’ve worked professionally for Democratic politicians for a number of years, but being the candidate is very different. Knocking on fifty strangers’ doors a day is really putting yourself out there. What I found most interesting and most valuable is how different each household, each street, and each neighborhood in the Third Ward really is. It was critical that I did knock every door in the ward because every household proved to have its own concerns with the City. I look forward to getting to work to address those priorities.

EE: How, if at all, did Jewish upbringing or education feed into your interest in public service?
ZA: I was raised on stories of my great-grandparents and my grandfather. My grandfather’s parents came to the United States in the wake of the Russian pogroms. Like so many they had nothing to their names but their faith and family. They settled in Columbus, OH and opened up a small tailor shop, which went on to serve the growing Jewish community of Columbus. It was there that they helped found an Orthodox congregation and raised my grandfather. My grandfather died young from wounds he sustained in Italy in WWII, but he used his short life to its utmost. After the war, he became a pharmacist, serving the community his parents had helped root. As the owner of Ackerman Drug, he helped local kids pay their way through school, and filled prescriptions for the sick and indigent. I was raised to be a mensch like my grandfather. I was raised to believe community can and should take care of its own.

EE: Tell us about your Jewish background.  Did you participate in Jewish activities growing up?
ZA: I grew up a member of the Beth Israel congregation here in Ann Arbor. There, I attended Hebrew school three times a week and became a bar mitzvah (my Torah portion was Ki Tavo). A few years ago, my parents joined the AARC. Since then, I’ve joined them for High Holiday services and look forward to seeing everyone again soon.


EE
: Thank you Zach, and we hope to see you soon at the AARC also!