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John Hieftje (pronounced "HEEFT-yeh" or HEEFT-JA) is the current mayor of Ann Arbor, Michiganmarker. Hieftje began his political career in 1999, when he was elected to the city council for Ann Arbor's 1st Ward as a Democrat. He was first elected to the post of Mayor in 2000, and was re-elected in 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2008. Hieftje is a native of Ann Arbor and graduated from Eastern Michigan Universitymarker in Ypsilanti, Michiganmarker in 1997.

Environmentalist stance

Hieftje has typically campaigned as a staunch environmentalist, pushing various alternative energy, anti-sprawl, and parks measures. The largest of these was a 2003 ballot initiative in which Ann Arbor residents were asked to approve property tax increases to fund the Ann Arbor Parks and Greenbelt Program. This anti-sprawl program called for the purchase of conservation easements on up to 7,000 acres (28 kmĀ²) of land in and around the city in order to preserve farmland and open space. On November 4, 2003, Ann Arbor residents approved this program 2-1, generating about $35 million to purchase land.

However, his time in office has not been without its detractors. At times, Hieftje has been criticized by environmental groups, such as the local chapter of the Sierra Club, for being overly supportive of new development within the city, while other residents have attacked him for frequently deferring to neighborhood "NIMBYism" and blocking development projects - these latter detractors also cast Hieftje as a poor environmentalist for pushing growth to the edges of Ann Arbor and contributing to the sprawl that he campaigns against.

Career and awards

Hieftje has served on the boards of the Ann Arbor Summer Festival, the Michigan Theater, the Huron River Watershed Council, and the Lake Superior Conservancy and Watershed Council. He has served as Co-Chair of the Washtenaw Metro Alliance and as Chair of Recycle Ann Arbor and of Urban Core Mayors of Michigan. He is a member of the Sierra Club, the Ecology Center of Ann Arbor, and the National Wildlife Federation (Great Lakes Office).

Hieftje has won several awards, including Local Elected Official of the Year Award from the Michigan Recreation and Parks Association, the Conservation Leadership Award from the Greater Detroit Audubon Societymarker, the Conservation Award from the Huron Valley Group of Sierra Club, and the Preservationist of the Year Award from Washtenaw Land Trust.

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