James E. Stephenson (b. April 21, 1926, d. 2009) served as a Republican in the office of Mayor of Ann Arbor from April 1973 to April 1975. Stephenson became active in politics in the 1960s and was elected to the Ann Arbor City Council in 1968.  He served as a Republican on the City Council from April 1968 to April 1972.

Stephenson was a patent attorney who formed a two-man firm in Ann Arbor in 1961 and practiced until his retirement in 2001.

Stephenson ran for re-election as mayor in 1975 in the city's first use of instant runoff voting, then referred to as the “Ware System” or “Majority Preferential Vote” also referred to as the “M.P.V. System." He faced Albert Wheeler, the Democratic party candidate, and Carol Ernst, the Human Rights Party candidate. When no candidate received a majority of the votes cast, the second place choices of votes for the third place candidate (Ernst) were allocated, making Wheeler the winner. The court upheld the election in Stephenson v Ann Arbor Board of Canvassers.

A book on his life, "Naked Came the Mayor," was published by the author in 2006.

More information

  • Naked Came the Mayor : The Story of a Poor Boy from Iowa Who Became Mayor of Ann Arbor. Stephenson, James E. As told to John and Dan Stephenson. Published by the author, Ann Arbor, MI: 2006.
  • Former Ann Arbor Mayor James Stephenson dies at 83, AnnArbor.com, August 2009

James Stephenson, a longtime patent attorney in Ann Arbor, was elected mayor in 1973 and served one term. John Stephenson said his father ran on a platform opposing an ordinance that made possession of marijuana a $5 civil infraction in the city of Ann Arbor.

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