8 vie for 2 seats on Marquette City Commission

MARQUETTE — Two incumbents and six candidates are vying for two open seats on the Marquette City Commission in the Nov. 6 general election.

The top four vote-getters determined after the Aug. 7 primary election will proceed to the general election in November. The non-partisan seven-member commission acts as the legislative branch of city government.

Commissioners serve three-year terms and may not serve more than two consecutive terms. The terms of Commissioners Mike Plourde and Jenna Smith are expiring, and both are seeking re-election.

The duties of the commission are to represent the citizens of Marquette, establish policies and approve the budget. The commission also has the power to hire a city manager and city attorney, and to appoint citizens to serve on numerous advisory boards and commissions.

Each candidate was asked three identical questions via email, with strict word limits.

Below are the questions and their replies in alphabetical order, printed as received, with edits made only to reflect the word limits given.


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)

Aaron Andres

1.) I’ve been a resident of the city of Marquette since 2012, during which time I have been involved with several groups and committees within the city. For a list of my boarding committee involvement please visit my website: www.AaronAndres.com. I have also dealt with many limitations in life that most people cannot fathom. However, I have overcome all of them and they have made me the person I am today.

2.) The first thing we need to do is to deal with the budget and reduce our need to borrow money. In order to do this, we need to have much more taxable revenue within the city. We need to balance that with keeping the wishes of the public in mind and maintaining the culture in which we currently live. At the same time keeping in mind future generations, so the city has an opportunity to continue to grow and develop for future generations. Ultimately the city commission works for the people of Marquette, they should attempt to carryout people’s wishes.

3.) I will bring a different perspective and awareness to matters that have fallen in the background because of budget issues. I don’t have a personal agenda as far as what I would do if elected to the city commission. I will look at situations independently and weigh the pros and cons while taking into account what the people that elected me want and need within their community. I believe my experience on city boards and committees gives me a knowledge base that the other candidates lack. I believe my work on the Board of Zoning Appeals, planning commission, and land development code committee have given me the knowledge and experience that will help ease the transition into the city commission. The most important thing a commissioner can do is listen to the people that they were elected by. It is not my place to dictate what is best for the city of Marquette. However, it is my responsibility as a city commissioner to administrate what the people want done. I believe the city is best served when elected officials puts the community first and leave their personal feelings and beliefs in the background.

Margaret ‘Mickey’ Brumm

1.) Born/raised in Marquette. Paid for MTU (YCC, dishwasher, Empire Mine) and Michigan Law School by myself. Have met and worked with people from all over the world, giving me a global perspective. I work from home now while caring for my 91-year old mother. Have observed lots of changes in Marquette. Some changes I like, some changes I have to wonder about. Decided to get involved in local decision making.

2.) Locals and Tourists — Keeping Marquette as functional (potable water, adequate sewage treatment, trash pickup, real recycling, timely snowplowing) and nice for the locals as it is for the tourists. Start a volunteer “Park Patrol” to keep Parks clear of refuse and proactively advise visitors of local rules.

Economy — Plan projects to generate income to make up for tax reductions due to power plant shutdowns.

Have planning committee require all Developers to show a 3-dimensional model of all projects, prior to approval, with the model showing clearly the reduction of view and sunshine caused by the development.

3.) Voters should choose me because I would focus on improving the City economy and having the City act as stewards of the environment. To improve the economy, the City must attract new industry and businesses to the area. To be stewards of the environment, the City must expand and maintain its system of Parks; while finding grant money for structures to be installed to reduce shoreline erosion, starting with the area between Picnic Rocks and McCarty’s Cove.

To improve the local economy, the City should advertise the local climate as a place where vehicles and boats could be tested under adverse weather conditions. A full-time “grant coordinator” should be hired to increase the number of grants applied for.

Professionally speaking, I show up, on time, and prepared, for all meetings.

I have an engineering degree, so I can master complicated subject matter involving recycling, development, marina and breakwater issues, contamination of land, etc. etc.

I have a law degree, so I can master complicated issues of Federal, State and local laws, regarding control of the city, the harbor and the lake.

I have no business ties to Marquette, so I am free of influence from local “money people”.

Jenn Hill

1.) Growing up in rural Illinois, I loved the family vacations to Cisco Lake near Watersmeet. In my twenties I lived on both coasts, for college then working as a seasonal park ranger and paralegal. Since earning my master’s in 1995, I’ve led public-private partnerships for trails, the arts, environmental businesses, and renewable energy. I moved to Marquette in 2014 with my husband Andrew Dalian, a teacher who serves on the Peter White Public Library board.

2.) I see important decisions coming up regarding hiring the next City Manager, developing the tax base and meeting budget constraints while maintaining quality services and planning and paying for infrastructure ready for new weather extremes. The future of the coal plants/waterfront, Heartwood property and increasing affordable housing are likely to happen in phases longer than budget cycles. Fundamental to these choices are trust and transparency, as shown by the concern over glass recycling. I support diverse investments based on Marquette’s many assets, from natural resources to volunteer festivals, including the full range of our people, businesses, nonprofits and anchor institutions.

3.) I am running for City Commission because cities provide the foundations that support quality of life and economic development. I invested in a master’s degree at MIT to learn about policy analysis and the patient work of building community consensus. As a Commissioner, my primary responsibilities will be communication and oversight. I have represented the UP in talks to implement State of Michigan energy policy, served on the Task Force that enacted Marquette’s first public art policy, and managed $2 million of grants with 20+ organizations at the Ruth Mott Foundation. I have hired and fired staff, written grants with multiple partners and then reported financial and project outcomes to those partners, funders and Boards.

Since November 2016, I’ve worked with others to organize large rallies to celebrate democracy and science and to protest bigotry. Folks love it here now, but there are warnings that it is becoming less affordable. What is our community vision for the next 20 years? I bring my experience in collaboration so that newcomers, long-time residents and our neighboring communities are engaged in that vital question. The Marquette Alger Labor Community Council endorsed my candidacy. Let’s work together for a great future. Visit www.electjennhill.com for more …

Matthew Luttenberger

1.) I first came through MQT as a child, came back for college, came back again as a professional, 3 times, and currently been here for 12 years straight. I am a graphic designer, photographer, hiker, berry hunter, rock hound and cyclist who just loves the adventure of Marquette. If I can help make it better, I will.

2.) The re-use of existing buildings, the old hospital and power plants, will be issues for years to come. This is the time to start addressing solutions. It seems like we the city are being given a chance to expand our opportunities, both economic and cultural, yet it seems that innovation scares the decision makers. The future doesn’t get scripted, it gets created. It is time to create our own future, and not let corporations pay a pittance for tax revenue when we can have cheap electricity. The turn-key operation could provide the city with much needed revenue by reducing expenses.

3.) A few years ago I suggested that you vote, and that it’s not my place to tell you who to vote for. I still believe that, yet, I also want to say that every idea I present to the city commissioners on Monday nights, is from a fellow Marquette resident. I am passing along the ideas I hear, and I’d like to hear a lot more, and maybe have a chance to implement some of them with your input. Thank you for the confidence in our system, and I look forward to representing you given the chance.

Brian Miller

1.) I am a small business owner and have spent over 15 years specializing in employee benefit packages for companies throughout the U.P. Currently I hold a seat on the U.P. Family Solutions Board as their Executive Secretary and have done so for over 8 years. This has allowed me to speak with DHHS employees and other State Officials. I continue to participate on the BCBSM agent advisory committee and have done so for over 12 …

2.) Ageing infrastructure including roads, water and sewer lines.

Finding an investor or employer to repurpose the Presque Isle Power Plant is important to create new jobs, or development to replace lost tax revenue.

Opioid and substance abuse

The City employee’s pensions are underfunded.

Affordable housing is needed to attract and retain people which will increase tax revenue.

We have a need for qualified pediatric mental health professionals.

Update land use ordinances to make the zoning and permitting process more efficient by today’s standards.

3.) My experience in business has allowed me to build relationships with business owners, employees and union groups throughout the U.P. It has provided me access to key people within businesses, the Chamber of Commerce and associations here in MI. I will share these relationships to cultivate their resources and promote business growth in the community.

This is a nonpartisan position and a City Commissioner should represent the people of the community. I promote three core values: revitalize, refocus and preserve.

Let’s revitalize a culture of teamwork between city officials and the community. Let’s continue to revitalize the City’s roads and infrastructure. Let’s refocus on our natural resources, and our city’s budget to promote sustainable economic growth. We have to preserve the safety of our neighborhoods and our children by supporting our police, teachers and medical professionals, including our first responders and our nurses.

These professionals are vital in the fight against our community’s substance abuse issues. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, every 25 minutes a baby is born suffering from Opioid withdrawal. We also have to support our schools to decrease bullying and school violence.

Let’s do this all while preserving our parks, city’s history and Marquette’s …

Jermey Ottaway

1.) I’m married and have three young children. I’ve lived in Marquette nearly my entire life. I attended Marquette Senior High School then NMU, and graduated with a degree in Political Science in 2006. I work within the claims department of Farmers Insurance. I am currently serving a 3 year term on the Marquette Board of Zoning Appeals. I love Marquette and I believe I am the best candidate to represent the people living here.

2.) The most important issue in Marquette is the budget. The next city commission will need to be able to find creative ways to generate revenue to help with the increasing costs of operating the city. I do not support an increase in property tax to the residents of Marquette. I believe we can find alternative ways to generate the revenue that is needed. Marquette needs to greater capitalize on the increasing tourism industry in the area. If we can generate additional revenue from people visiting our city, the tax paying citizens will not have to carry as heavy a load.

3.) Voters in Marquette should choose to vote for me because I can bring a fresh set of ideas to the city commission. I have no agenda and am not attached to any group or organization that will influence any decision that I would need to make while on the commission. My biggest goal would be to connect with the people living in the city to ensure the commission is making decisions that are not only best for the city, but the residents are in favor of.

Currently most people only find out about the happenings of our city government after a decision has been made. We need to get more citizens involved. Marquette is a wonderful community with amazing people. Everyone living here should be informed and should get the opportunity to come before the commission to share their opinions. I plan to use every platform possible to keep the people of our community up to date with the happenings of our city government and get them involved.

Most importantly, I love Marquette. This is one of the most unique and amazing cities in the country and I want to do everything I can to ensure it stays that way.

Mike Plourde

1.) My career was with the Michigan Department of Corrections. I spent 31 years with the MDOC, 25 of those years in a supervisory or management position. I have had extensive training in management and supervisory methods. as well as managing budgets. I have extensive experience in how government operates.

My wife and I have been married for over 44 years. I am a father of two and a grandfather of five.

2.) The most important issues facing the city commission in 2018 – 2019 are:

≤ What will be done with the Presque Isle Power Plant and how should the land be used.

≤ What is to be done with the old hospital site as well as that of the decommissioned Shiras Steam Plant.

≤ What is to be done with the old MGH hospital site.

≤ What is to be done with the Cliffs-Dow property.

In all of the above, the goal is to have development that adds to the city’s tax base, while being acceptable to the public, and being asthetically pleasing

3.) I am the most experienced of all the candidates in this election.

I understand how Marquette City government works. I have an excellent working relationship with Mayor Campana, Mayor Pro-Tem Stonehouse, and the other Commissioners. I, also, have an excellent working relationship with the City Manager and his office. I have met and have a good working relationship with all the department heads in city government. I know who does what and who is responsible for what.

I am already briefed and up to speed on all of the above issues, and with many other issues confronting the City of Marquette.

I am experienced with the budget process and will be a part of that process this fall for the 2018-2019 budget year.

I have always been involved with senior issues. But now, since I am a senior citizen, I am very aware of senior issues and am a serious advocate for seniors.

I am still my own man. I am committed to working for the citizens of Marquette, for the best of the City, and the best quality of life in the City of Marquette.

Jenna Smith

1.) I am a graduate of MSHS and the University of Michigan. Previously I worked for Michigan Works! on workforce and economic development for the UP. I also served on the Housing Commission. I’m now the HR Manager for MAPS. My experiences have cultivated meaningful connections, providing a constant pulse of our community. My husband and I have a young daughter. She’s the reason I’m running for election, to improve our community for the next generation.

2.) Tax revenue lost by the WE Energies Power Plant closure will be significant. The commission is looking to sell some city properties to generate income. There are many factors to consider before final decisions are made. If the commission doesn’t sell these properties, we would have to find alternative revenue sources, reduce services, or reduce staff in the future. Another important issue is budget and strategic planning. With limited resources it’s critical to allocate funds to projects that make sense for the long-term. We need to plan our spending to ensure our city is financially sound for years to come.

3.) My work and volunteer experiences have taught me a great deal about large budgets funded by the public, policy implications, strategic planning, and contract negotiations. I believe I offer a unique set of experiences, skills, and connections to residents who don’t typically have direct access to public officials. I can provide insights about what young professionals and families would like to see regarding recreation planning, capital improvements, and a strong downtown. Some examples include looking into ways to preserve and enhance our public waterfront, the addition of a toddler area when we replace existing parks, and overnight parking options downtown to discourage buzzed driving. Over the last several months I have spent time researching topics such as glass recycling, the South Trails, and condo developments. I can tell you when a controversial decision is being made, I go above and beyond by doing significant research, touring the area, and talking with residents before making a final decision. I am willing to listen, collaborate, and compromise in order to find the best solutions for the majority of residents. Thank you for taking time to learn about my campaign, my full platform is available at: jennasmithformqt.com.