Marquette City Commission primary Q&A

MARQUETTE – Five candidates are competing for two open seats on the Marquette City Commission and the Aug. 6 primary will narrow that field to four.

The four top vote-getters will move on to the Nov. 5 general election, where the city’s two newest commissioners will be selected.

Dave Campana, the former owner of Marquette’s Campus Pharmacy, has lived in the city for 33 years and owned a business for 19 of them.

Russell Kangas has lived in Marquette for 56 years and retired from Northern Michigan University three years ago. He has been married for nearly 40 years and his two adult daughters live in the city.

Mike Plourde works as a radio broadcaster and has lived in Marquette for 38 years. Both of his children, now adults, graduated from Marquette Area Public Schools. Plourde, his wife and his son all graduated from NMU. He ran unsuccessfully for city commission in 2012.

Sarah Reynolds – who, at 27, is younger than all candidates and current commissioners – has lived in Marquette since 2003, but left for a couple of years to attend law school. She graduated from NMU in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in political science, and earned a master’s in public administration from the school in 2011.

Tony Tollefson is a former city commissioner and mayor, who campaigned for a county board seat in 2008 and for a city commission seat in 2009 and 2012.

The five candidates are running to replace current Marquette Mayor Johnny DePetro, who has served eight years on the commission and is stepping down due to term limits, and commissioner Jason Schneider, who opted not to run for a second three-year term.

The Mining Journal asked each candidate why they were running for city commission and what changes they hoped to institute in the city, were they to be elected.

Following are the written responses of the candidates, listed alphabetically by last name:

David J. Campana

Marquette has become a great city in which to live because of those that have dedicated their time and talents to frame its progress. I want to give back to the community that has supported my family and me over the 33 years of my residency.

During my 19 years of owning a business in Marquette, I learned to listen, and to value the opinions of others. This skill will help me to blend the needs and interests of the residents and the workings of the city government to resolve issues and continue the growth and livability of Marquette.

Marquette has a lot of important activities presently occurring. The Founders Landing and Veridea projects are reshaping our city. These, and other commercial developments, are necessary for jobs and growth. We must keep them moving forward. The senior center needs to be addressed. We should either remodel the facility or build a new center. The Cliffs Dow property is prime real estate that should be developed both commercially and recreationally. Our recreational resources, such as Tourist Park, Presque Isle, the waterfront and the Heartwood property, are treasured assets. They need to be well managed within a balanced budget, and further developed with the assistance of outside funding and granting opportunities.

Russell E. Kangas

My reason to run for office is to help keep the city moving forward in the positive direction we are currently experiencing. I am encouraged this growth will continue into the future with the two newest employers in our region, and I hope to be an integral part in deciding how the income generated by these employers will be used to aid our city. I believe in being fair and will be there for the people as their voice in our city’s government.

If elected I want the citizens of Marquette to know that I am not looking to make sweeping changes to how the city currently functions. I will support the renovation of the lighthouse because it is a focal point of the area and needs to be brought back to its brilliant red color. I will also support making our city a healthy and attractive place to draw new people to the area, whether to visit, raise a family, or to entice new businesses to locate here. We are fortunate to have four seasons in Marquette with numerous outdoor activities. I want to be sure to keep these opportunities alive and well by providing everyone the chance to enjoy them as I have. I am asking for your vote and thank you in advance for allowing me to give back by serving on the Marquette City Commission.

Mike Plourde

I am running for city commission because I love this city and I believe I have a lot to offer to the city and her citizens. I’m looking for a chance to prove that. I’ve taught my children to give back to the community that they live in and I believe in practicing what I preach. This is one way in which I will do that. I’m intelligent, a very good decision-maker, and a good planner.

The first problem that I would like to address is the issue of truck traffic in the city. I think that intelligent people should be able to come up with a viable alternative that works for all involved. It’s important to support business and to support jobs. But that can be accomplished in ways that do not create hardships or safety issues.

I think the issue of a new senior center needs to be addressed to the satisfaction of those who use it. Repairs need to be made to the current center so that it’s usable, and comfortable, until a new center can be built.

Right now about 40 percent of the refuse in the City is recycled. It’s been said that up to 90 percent can be recycled. I support that and would like to see that happen.

I would also like to see Northern Michigan University have a presence downtown. I think that NMU and the city can be even more involved and collaborative.

The city budget needs to be balanced without raising taxes.

The Cliffs Dow brownfield needs to finally be certified usable and brought into use. Some of that use should be revenue-providing business.

Sarah Reynolds

I am running for one of the two open positions with the Marquette City Commission because I love this city and I want to make it a better place. With my experience on the Marquette Housing Commission and my education through Northern Michigan University, I believe that I am the best candidate to be elected to the commission. Marquette is a beautiful place to live with many things to offer, from educational programing, to citywide events, and the expansion of the city through numerous construction projects, and it is my belief that I would uphold the true beauty of this city, and keep the opinions of the citizens first and foremost in my mind when making decisions on the commission. I want to be the voice of Marquette city residents and I am ready to be a representative of the people.

If elected to the Marquette City Commission, my hope is to keep the current citywide events that allow the community to come together and celebrate this great city. My goal is to actively encourage citizens to become more involved in the creation of programs and to voice their opinions and concerns with regard to city government. The main reason I am running for city commission is to be the voice of the citizens of the best city in the world, and any changes that I would hope to instill into the city government would be based upon opinions and thoughts of our citizens keeping in mind the mission of city government.

Tony Tollefson

I am running to make sure there is common sense in city government decision making. I served the people’s interests well during the previous six years I was on the commission, and did that by listening to what the voters of Marquette wanted from its local government.

I am not seeking to make major changes, but to work with the commission to provide the city of Marquette a deliberative, responsive government which listens to the public concerns. When I first sought being on the city commission years ago, I did so to protect the (Marquette) Board of Light and Power from being sold to outside interests. Fortunately we still have our own electrical utility provider today. My biggest concern is making sure issues are examined and debated openly and fairly before the commission. I have communicated well with the voters in the past so that they understood how and why I have either supported or opposed an issue. People accepted that from me and felt good about how I took their concerns before the commission.

Kyle Whitney can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250.