BLP race to elect 2 members
MARQUETTE — Four nonpartisan candidates are running for two open seats on the Marquette Board of Light and Power’s Board of Directors, two of whom are seeking re-election and all of whom have prior experience on the board.
The two highest vote-getters in Tuesday’s election will join the five-member board, each serving three-year terms. The board is responsible for overseeing the light and power operations of the city.
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, with strict word limits. The questions were:
1.) List a few details of your background you think voters would want to know. (75 words)
2.) What do you think is the single most important issue facing the district? (100 words)
3.) Why do you think voters should choose you? (200 words)
Below are the candidates’ replies in alphabetical order.
Mary Wardell can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248.
1.) I have been a resident of Marquette since 1959. I am married to Karen, a retired Marquette Public Schools teacher. I have three grown daughters. I have previously served two terms on the Marquette Board of Light and Power. Five years in which I was chairman.
2.) Reliable, affordable, clean power. As we move forward, the energy picture in this nation, region and city will change often and quickly. As the changes occur, one of the biggest challenge will be to identify, review and move forward with what is best for the rate payers of The Board of Light and Power. We are looking at the closure of Shiras Steam Plant, how that effects the rate payer, our reliability and our power independence is one the most important issues facing the Board of Light and Power.
3.) My experience with the board of Light and Power, my willingness to serve the rate payers. But most of all my commitment to keep The BLP as the most reliable, cost effective utility in the Upper Peninsula.
1.) 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 5 3-yr terms on the MBLP, 2 terms as City Commission, 1 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, 3 children grew up in Marquette
2.) With the successful completion of the Marquette Energy Center with its 3 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 employees, and the Board to work closely together.
3.) 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 4 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.
1.) 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.
2.) 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.
3.) 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.
1.) I was born and raised in Marquette and am a second generation local family business owner. Our family has deep community roots. Received Electrical Engineering degree from Michigan Tech and worked as a scientist for 15 years. I served for 10 years on the city planning commission and 3 years on Marquette City commission, two as mayor. I have been on the BLP for the past three years, the last two as Board Chair.
2.) 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.
3.) The future of the electric power industry is quite complex and ever changing. In order to make proper long term policy decisions on behalf of our rate payers, I feel its important that Board Members are willing to invest whatever amount of time it takes to obtain a solid understanding of our electrical energy world and infrastructure. 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.
I will also say that the other candidates running for this Board are solid people, they have extensive BLP experience and I believe they truly care and have the best of intentions. I would very much appreciate being re-elected, but in my mind this community will be in good shape with whoever is selected.