4 candidates advance in BLP race

MARQUETTE – Four Marquette Board of Light and Power primary candidates advanced Tuesday to the November general election in their non-partisan bids for two open seats on the board.

There were five candidates running for the seats including John Braamse, Dave Carlson, Jerry Irby, Thomas Tourville and Kenneth Wanberg, all of Marquette. The term of office is three years. Carlson, Irby, Tourville and Wanberg will advance to the Nov. 4 general election.

The top vote-getter was Tourville, with 1,646 votes, followed by Irby with 883 votes, Carlson with 808 votes and Wanberg with 478 votes. Braamse had 288 votes.

In a recent candidate profile, Tourville said he served the community’s municipal government in several areas for more than 20 years, including serving on the Marquette City Investment Advisory Board, Marquette City Planning Commission and Marquette City Commission, having served two terms as mayor.

“Significant capital dollars are involved in replacing aging plant, equipment and facilities,” Tourville said. “Very expensive things get old and need to be replaced and improved, requiring a disciplined, long term business planning strategy. This is part of what I do and have done for decades in my family apartment business, which is similarly infrastructure intensive.”

Irby said there should be a regional power plan developed by answering the following questions: “What would the effect of the loss of the Presque Isle Power Plant have on our network and power grid? How would we be able to support business growth that provides jobs? I believe it is imperative to have experience and know-how to bring local, regional and state resources together; I bring that experience. We need to be proactive, not reactive, to the challenges that affect our BLP.”

Carlson said he was elected to four terms on the BLP in the 1980s to 1990s, serving as chairman twice. He was elected to two terms on the Marquette City Commission between 1995 and 2001, serving once as mayor pro-tem and was elected to four terms as treasurer of the Northern Great Lakes Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.

Having taught at Northern Michigan University for 33 years in the political science and public administration programs, including a course on energy and environmental politics, he is now retired. Carlson said he is a member and the secretary of the Peter White Public Library Board.

Wanberg, who was employed by the BLP for 30 years, said: “With an aging facility which currently houses three units with the newest being 30 years old, capital improvements will not only be welcomed but necessary. As the community continues to grow, the demand for power will increase and being prepared to meet those demands while keeping utility rates low will be essential.”

The vacancies were created after BLP board members Edward Angeli and John Sonderegger had served two consecutive three-year terms. City rules require such candidates to leave office for two years before being eligible to run for an open seat.

The Marquette BLP is a municipal electric utility serving about 17,000 customers in the city of Marquette and all or parts of Marquette, Negaunee, Ishpeming, West Branch, Richmond, Chocolay, Skandia, Sands and Forsyth townships.

In 1965, the utility – which was operating under administration of the city – was placed under the jurisdiction of its own five-member, publicly elected board.

Mary Wardell can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248.