Marquette Mayor Tom Baldini dies unexpectedly
A huge loss for community, state
MARQUETTE — Marquette Mayor Tom Baldini, 74, passed away Tuesday afternoon after sustaining a stroke over the weekend, Mayor Pro-Tem Dave Campana confirmed to The Mining Journal today.
“We lost a really good man that was completely devoted to his community,” Campana said. “Although he was in politics state-wide and nationally, his heart was in the community. He always pushed to make Marquette special and was devoted to taking care of problems, no matter how big or small — he was never above them. He had so much valuable knowledge. He was a true leader.”
In a mayor’s absence or death, the mayor pro-tem is authorized to act on behalf of the mayor. City Manager Mike Angeli said he plans to meet with City Attorney Ron Keefe and Campana today to talk about what the city’s next steps entail.
Close friend and former Michigan Gov. James Blanchard, who Baldini worked alongside, told The Mining Journal that Baldini was the “definition of a true friend.”
“He was always there for his people, his friends, his neighbors, colleagues and students. He touched thousands of lives. Teacher, educator, public official in Marquette, Lansing and Washington, Tom Baldini was a public force and leader for the last half century,” he said in an email. “I met him in 1970. He was already a walking advocate and Ambassador for the U.P. Of course he was an expert on U.P. issues; jobs, tourism, schools, the Great Lakes, and US Canada relations. I called him my ‘Governor of the U.P.’ My staff agreed! Knowledgeable, dedicated to serving the public and a mentor to future leaders, he energized everything he touched. Oh how we will miss him. What a great and wonderful life to celebrate!”
Baldini was a teacher of government and economics at Marquette Senior High School from 1965-83. He joined Gov. Blanchard’s staff as a special assistant for U.P. Affairs and Education Adviser in 1984 and returned to the Marquette Public Schools as the assistant to the superintendent for Finances and Personnel in 1991.
In 1994, President Bill Clinton nominated him to be the U.S. chair of the International Joint Commission for Canada and the United States managing all of the waters shared by the two countries.
Baldini also assumed the duties as the U.S. representative of the U.S. and Canadian Boundary Commission 1998. In 2003, he was appointed by U. S. Congressman Bart Stupak, 1st Congressional District of Michigan, to be his district director and retired from federal service in 2010.
Baldini was currently a part-time instructor in the Political Science Department at Northern Michigan University and a member of the Michigan Technological University Board of Control, which he was appointed to by former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm.
Baldini was elected to the Marquette City Charter Commission in 2011 and the Marquette City Commission in 2014 for a three-year term. He was elected mayor in November, switching places with Mayor Pro-Tem Cambana, who was mayor at the time.
Many have reached out expressing sympathy with the passing of Baldini.
119th House District Rep. Sara Cambensy who worked alongside Baldini as a city commissioner released a statement Tuesday.
“It is with a heavy heart that our office has learned of the passing of Marquette Mayor Tom Baldini. He was a pioneer in Marquette politics, working as the U.P. representative for Governor Blanchard, political advisor for Congressman Bart Stupak, and appointed chairman for the prestigious International Joint Commission under President Clinton, among many, many other positions throughout his career. He was also a beloved history teacher at Marquette Senior High School, where everywhere he went people noted that ‘Mr. Baldini was my government teacher!’……and oftentimes adding ‘their favorite teacher,'” Cambensy said. “Jason, Mary and I all got the opportunity to work with Tom through the Marquette County Democratic Party, reporting for The Mining Journal and as a fellow Marquette city commissioner. While we are still in shock, and though all of us had many more conversations we were supposed to have with Tom in the near future, we ask that you keep him and his family in your thoughts and prayers at this time. This is a huge loss for not only our local communities, but also for our entire region and state. His legacy and enormous impact on politics will forever be remembered.”
U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow released the following statement on the passing of Baldini:
“Tom Baldini has been an icon in Michigan Democratic politics and the ultimate champion for our UP. His life epitomized the meaning of public service. He was a mentor to so many over the years, and I always valued his friendship and advice. Although his passing leaves a big void, his legacy is a lasting reminder to all of us of what it means to serve. My thoughts and prayers are with Tom’s family at this very difficult time.”
110th House District Rep. Scott Dianda called Baldini a “remarkable public servant, mentor and personal friend who lived up to the ideal of serving the greater good of the Upper Peninsula.”
“He was a transformational leader and I will cherish the memories of working with him as state representative for the 110th House District. My prayers are with his family during this difficult time,” he said.
The Canale-Tonella Funeral Home of Marquette is in charge of funeral arrangements. A full obituary will be released in The Mining Journal in the coming days.
Jaymie Depew can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206. Her email address is jdepew@miningjour nal.net.