BLP primary to narrow field

MARQUETTE — Five nonpartisan candidates are running for two open seats on the Marquette Board of Light and Power’s Board of Directors.

The four highest vote-getters in Tuesday’s primary will progress to the Nov. 7 election.

The BLP board has five elected members each serving three-year terms. They are responsible for overseeing the operations of the municipal-owned utility, which serves the city and surrounding townships.

Current board members are Chairman Tom Tourville, Vice Chairman David Puskala, and board members Jerry Irby, Robert Niemi and David Carlson. Tourville and Carlson have terms expiring this year.

Board members are limited to two consecutive terms.

Each candidate was asked three identical questions via email, with strict word limits of 75 words for the first question, 100 for the second and 200 for the third.

Below are the questions and their replies.

Mary Wardell can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248. Her email address is mwardell@miningjournal.net.


Edward Angeli

List a few details of your background you think voters would want to know. (75 words)

I have been a resident of the city of Marquette since 1959. I belong to a family with strong commitment to community service. I am married to Karen, a retired Marquette public schools teacher and we have three married daughters and four grandchildren.

What do you think is the single most important issue facing the district? (100 words)

The power industry will face many important issue in the years to come. The most important for the residence of Marquette and the BLP is to keep local control over our utility. When we have control we will have a say in each and every one of those issues.

Why do you think voters should choose you? (200 words)

I am a previous board member. I served for six years, five of which I was the chairman. That experience along with my passion and strong desire to make Marquette a great place to live, work and raise children, make me an ideal choice for this position.

I do not have an agenda, but will work with all the residence to keep the BLP local, reliable and the best value in the U.P.


Jorma Lankinen

List a few details of your background you think voters would want to know. (75 words)

I have a BS degree in Secondary Education from NMU. I’ve been building custom homes in the local area for the past 43 years. I have served on the Marquette County Landfill Authority for the past 16 years and belonged to a service organization for many years. I’m happily married and have one daughter who lives out of state.

What do you think is the single most important issue facing the district? (100 words)

There is no ‘one single important issue’ facing the district. All of the issues, from ever rising energy rates and expenses, to the new energy center and solar field, are important to the big picture. The rate payers are an important factor to keep the BL&P healthy and strong in obtaining affordable, reliable power. The board is responsible for guiding the growth that is necessary to keep the lights on.

Why do you think voters should choose you? (200 words)

I’m not one of the ‘good old boys’ who fill the rest of this ticket. I have attended over 90 percent of the BL&P board meetings in the past two years to educate myself on the issues, and the players. I’m looking for new innovations, not to bring back the same people who helped to generate the current culture.


John Prince

List a few details of your background you think voters would want to know. (75 words)

I was born and raised in Marquette. Attended Marquette public schools. Married 41 years to Rene’e, we have two daughters Erin and Jenna. Licensed master electrician and worked in electrical construction industry since 1974. Member of Marquette Rotary Club and Bay Cliff Health Camp board member.

What do you think is the single most important issue facing the district? (100 words)

Support and guide the MBLP through many challenges if faces. Continue to provide the MBLP necessary support and assets that are needed to maintain the most reliable, affordable electrical energy provider in the UP. The owners (Marquette ratepayers) just committed over 60 million dollars for new (Marquette Energy Center) to preserve and prepare for the future of our electrical needs. My priority is to optimize the new MEC with all our other generation assets to assure our citizens made the best decision.

Why do you think voters should choose you? (200 words)

Serving as a MBLP board member from 2009 – 2015, my occupation as an electrical contractor in Marquette since 1986 and in the electrical construction industry since 1974, I believe has prepared me for the MBLP. A MBLP board member has similarities to my occupation as both require understanding of planning, staff, business sense, finance, working with others and making decisions in the best interest of its customers. I believe I have the insight with what our ratepayers deserve and expect and I would make a solid candidate for your board at the MBLP.


Dave Carlson

List a few details of your background you think voters would want to know. (75 words)

B.S. NDSU, Ph.D. Purdue. Taught public administration and government for 33 yrs. at NMU focusing on how governmental agencies need to function effectively. Elected to five 3-yr terms on the MBLP, two terms as City Commission, one term Peter White Library. Chaired Committee to Save the BLP from being sold. Chair of the Michigan AAUP, president NMU AAUP, Synod treasurer, String Alliance treasurer. Widower, three children grew up in Marquette

What do you think is the single most important issue facing the district? (100 words)

With the successful completion of the Marquette Energy Center with its three Wartsila engine/generators, we need to blend their power production with that of Shiras Unit #3 to maximize the longevity of both, and in doing so, insure that rate increases return to levels close to inflation, and hopefully for next year be close to zero. This will require our new executive director, all our enployees and the board to work closely together.

Why do you think voters should choose you? (200 words)

My extensive experience at the BLP helps me to understand the challenges facing the BLP as well as opportunities we have in the next few years to set a pattern for the longer horizon. I am dedicated to helping the BLP continue outstanding service in providing electricity to Marquette residents, businesses and organizations, to avoid the kind of huge rate increases we have experienced in the past four years, and to enhance our distribution lines so that electricity can flow from different directions in case of downed power lines. The BLP is now well positioned to achieve these goals.

Lots of change means that many BLP employees will see their job assignments change, or will need training to effectively use of new equipment, computerized controllers, and master new work routines. Management will be challenged to engage in lots of multi-tasking, as well as to work with outside organizations that the BLP needs to rely upon. Board members will need to become familiar with all this transformation so that their governance role contributes positively and effectively, in order to effectively serve our nearly 40,000 BLP customers.


Tom Tourville

List a few details of your background you think voters would want to know. (75 words)

I have served on the BLP for the past three years, the last two as board chair. I am running for a second term because I want to continue to help the BLP position itself for the future with a long term vision that provides reliable, affordable power to our community.

What do you think is the single most important issue facing the district? (100 words)

The next few years are going be dynamic and challenging as the BLP enters into a new arena. The Marquette Energy Center will provide us new opportunities in staging and dispatching our generating assets, with timing of our power purchases and sales with the grid, and in managing and controlling our power supply costs. If done properly with proper long term financial planning, we have the potential to provide a great return to our ratepayers along with rock-solid, top notch reliability. By taking these well planned, definitive actions we can secure our energy future for many decades to come.

Why do you think voters should choose you? (200 words)

The future of the electric power industry is complex and dynamic. In my running for a second term as board member, I am fully committed to invest the time and effort necessary to help guide the BLP and its very dedicated and talented group of employees continue to move forward as a key and viable asset to our community.