John Hieftje with a caricature of his head made for the FestiFools parade. (Photo by Peter Honeyman)

John Hieftje (b. 1951) served as mayor of the city of Ann Arbor from 2000 until November 2014. (His last name is pronounced "HEEF-t-ya.") His 14-year tenure makes him the city's longest-serving mayor.

A Democrat, Hieftje was first elected to the Ann Arbor City Council in 1999, representing Ward 1. The following year, in 2000, he ran a successful campaign for mayor and was subsequently re-elected every two years until 2014, when he decided not to run again.

Because of his service as mayor, he has been a lecturer with the University of Michigan Ford School of Public Policy. Before being elected as mayor, he worked as a Realtor for the Charles Reinhart Company.

Hieftje earned a B.S. in political science from Eastern Michigan University in 1997. He graduated from Ann Arbor Pioneer High School.

He is a member of several conservation and environmental groups, including The Wolfpack of the National Wildlife Federation and the Sierra Club.

He is married to Kathryn Goodson, a pianist. They live in the Burns Park neighborhood. Hieftje has a son from his first marriage, Josh Hieftje.

Timeline: John Hieftje

Nov. 12, 2014: Receives the Ecology Center's Herbert L. Munzel Award for Environmental Activism.

November 2014: Ends tenure as mayor of Ann Arbor.

Nov. 6, 2012: Wins re-election in general election against independent candidate Albert Howard. Hieftje gets 42,262 votes (84.11%) compared to 7,652 votes (15.23%) for Howard.

Nov. 2, 2010: Wins re-election in general election against independent candidate Steve Bean. Hieftje gets 27,957 votes (81.99%) compared to 5,983 votes (17.55%) for Bean.

Aug. 3, 2010: Wins Democratic primary against challenger Patricia Lesko. Hieftje gets 10,058 votes (83.91%) compared to 1,869 votes (15.59%) for Lesko.

Nov. 4, 2008: Wins general election against Libertarian and University of Michigan student Eric Plourde. Hieftje gets 46,811 votes (84.94%) compared to 8,001 votes (14.52%) for Plourde.

Aug. 5, 2008: Wins Democratic primary against Tom Wall. Hieftje gets 68.60% of the vote compared to 31.27% for Wall.

2007:  Is appointed to the Michigan Climate Action Council by Governor Jennifer Granholm.

Nov. 7, 2006: Wins general election against independent Tom Wall. Hieftje gets 30,935 votes (78.88%) compared to 8,283 votes (21.12%) for Wall.

Aug. 8, 2006: Wins Democratic primary against Ward 5 city councilmember Wendy Woods. Hieftje gets 69.71% of the vote compared to 30.29% for Woods.

Nov. 2, 2004: Wins general election against Republican and former Ward 2 city councilmember Jane Lumm. (Lumm later runs for and wins election in 2011 to represent Ward 2 again on city council as an independent. She defeats Stephen Rapundalo in the general election that year.) Hieftje gets 38,067 votes (68.65%) compared to 17,285 votes (31.17%) for Lumm.

2004: Joins board of directors for the Lake Superior Conservancy and Watershed Council in Sault St. Marie, Ontario.

2004-2005: Serves as chair of the Urban Core Mayors of Michigan.

2002-2013: Serves as the city's representative on the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board.

Nov. 5, 2002: Wins general election against Republican and former city councilmember Marcia Higgins. (Higgins later switches parties and in 2005 is elected as a Democrat to Ward 4 city council seat.) Hieftje gets 26,495 votes (75.05%) compared to 8,764 votes (24.83%) for Higgins.

Nov. 7, 2000: Wins general election against Libertarian Charles Goodman and Republican Stephen Rapundalo. (Rapundalo later switched parties and was elected in 2005 to city council representing Ward 2 as a Democrat.) Hieftje gets 34,111 votes (68.34%) compared to 13,946 votes (27.94%) for Rapundalo and 1,849 votes (3.7%) for Goodman.

November 1999: Wins general election for his first two-year term on city council, representing Ward 1.

August 1999: Wins Democratic primary for Ward 1 city council against Simone Lightfoot.

1998: Joins board of directors for the Huron River Watershed Council.

1997: Joins neighbors around Ann Arbor's Leslie Science Center to block what they deemed an oversized expansion plan for the city-owned facility. His involvement in this effort led to his decision to seek election to city council.

1997: Earns B.S. in political science from Eastern Michigan University, after having dropped out of college in his youth.

1989-1990: Serves as chair of the board of directors of Recycle Ann Arbor.

DATE? Works as a Realtor for the Charles Reinhart Company.

DATE? Serves as a surveyor for the U.S. Forest Service in northern Michigan.

1951: Born in Battle Creek, Michigan.

In the news

John Hieftje exit interview: 'I've accomplished everything I ever really set out to do' – MLive, Nov. 10, 2014

Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje gets fond farewell at final council meeting – MLive, Nov. 7, 2014

Interview: Outgoing Ann Arbor Mayor, John Hieftje – WEMU, Nov. 4, 2014

Mayor John Hieftje shares final words with Ann Arbor Rotary Club before retiring – MLive, Sept. 18, 2014

Exit Interview Part Two: Mayor John Hieftje – Concentrate, Jan. 15, 2014

Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje says he won't seek re-election in 2014 – MLive, Jan. 10, 2014

Exit Interview Part One: Mayor John Hieftje – Concentrate, Jan. 8, 2014

Ann Arbor Mayoral Race: Howard, Hieftje – Ann Arbor Chronicle, Oct. 16, 2014

Ann Arbor mayor talks roads, transit and job growth in unofficial 'state of the city' address –, June 12, 2013

Ann Arbor mayoral race: Albert Howard accuses Mayor John Hieftje of running 'shadow government' –, Oct. 13, 2012

Mayor Hieftje: Conversations on Economic Opportunity – Ann Arbor SPARK, Oct. 10, 2012

Mayor John Hieftje and allies lose majority control on Ann Arbor City Council –, Aug. 8, 2012

The Hieftje Decades: The Mayor Sees Even Tougher Times Ahead – Ann Arbor Observer, May 2011

Incumbent Hieftje posts win over Lesko in Democratic mayoral primary – Michigan Daily, Aug. 3, 2010

Satan for Mayor? The Hieftje-Lesko Slugfest – Ann Arbor Observer, July 2010

Gay rights groups endorse Mayor John Hieftje over Patricia Lesko in Ann Arbor mayoral race –, June 29, 2010 

Hieftje's green vision: Making Ann Arbor energy independent one solar panel at a time – Michigan Daily, March 15, 2010

Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje on Argo Dam – Ann Arbor News, Jan. 10, 2010

Hieftje discusses Ann Arbor's green projects – Michigan Daily, Oct. 29, 2008

Mayoral candidates meet for first time at debate – Michigan Daily, Oct. 14, 2008

Libertarian challenges Hieftje in Ann Arbor mayor's race – Ann Arbor News, Oct. 6, 2008

Changes bring Ann Arbor City Council back into mayor's corner – Ann Arbor News, Aug. 6, 2008

John Hieftje looks to Tom Wall race and beyond – Ann Arbor News, July 31, 2008

MIXED MEDIA: John Hieftje, Mayor of Ann Arbor – Crain's Detroit Business, March 3, 2008

Ann Arbor mayor vying for state appointment – Ann Arbor News, Aug 1, 2007 ("Hieftje said he is in the running to be the next the chairman of the three-member Michigan Public Service Commission, which regulates the state's investor-owned natural gas, electric and telecommunications utilities, rural electrical cooperatives, and interstate motor carriers." He did not receive the appointment.)

Interview with John HieftjeTeeter Talk, November 2006

Ann Arbor Mayor takes center stage – Michigan Daily, July 9, 2006

Hieftje for mayor – Michigan Daily, Nov. 4, 2002


Contributing to this Page

For some existing timeline elements more precise dates would be desirable. Update strategy: Add timeline elements and news links as history unfolds.

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