Campana elected mayor, Stonehouse as pro tem

From left, Dave Campana, is sworn in as mayor by City Clerk Kris Hazeres Monday evening at a regular meeting of the Marquette City Commission. (Journal photo by Jaymie Depew)

MARQUETTE — Dave Campana was elected Marquette’s new mayor with a 4-2 vote Monday night by the Marquette City Commission, filling the seat left vacant Dec. 26 after the unexpected death of former Mayor Tom Baldini.

“I just want to say thank you again to the commissioners. I appreciate your confidence and vote,” said Campana, who had been serving as mayor pro tem. “I think we’ve got a good group of commissioners. We’ve got a lot of projects ahead of us coming up the next year and we need this group of commissioners.”

Although Campana thanked the commission for appointing him mayor, he said Baldini couldn’t be replaced.

“His death took away a man who worked tirelessly … I could list his accomplishments but they are too numerous,” Campana said. “Tom was not in it for the glory or recognition, but rather he wanted Marquette to be a progressive and vibrant place to be. I was looking forward to serving with Tom, with him as the mayor, because just being around him was an educational experience. There was much to learn from him by how he handled difficult situations, how he reviewed problems and how he came up with the right solutions.”

The board also elected Commissioner Fred Stonehouse as mayor pro tem with a 4-2 vote.

“Thank you to my fellow commissioners for electing me mayor pro tem,” Stonehouse said.

Following Baldini’s death, a city commission vacancy was also created. According to the city charter, the board has 60 days to fill the vacancy via appointment.

With recommendations from staff, the board unanimously voted to follow a similar procedure used when Commissioner Jenna Smith was appointed in December to fill a vacant seat previously occupied by Sara Cambensy, who left the commission when she was elected to the Michigan House of Representatives in November.

During that process, applications were made available both online at the city’s website and in person at the City Clerk’s Office, and a time frame was established for interested parties to return completed applications. Following the deadline, completed applications and related materials were disseminated to the board for review.

At a later meeting, the board provided applicants an opportunity to speak for three minutes each. When they finished speaking, the commission voted on their choice. The first person to receive the majority of votes, which was four or more, was appointed to the unexpired commission term.

Some community members expressed concern regarding the voting process since Baldini was recently elected in November.

“I’m concerned with the procedure you’re about to follow. This is a three-year term, this isn’t a simple one … and as Mr. Stonehouse pointed out, it could be a three-year renewal,” said city resident Matt Luttenberger.

Commissioner Mike Plourde said the commission had similar concerns, and after discussing the matter for “many hours,” commissioners weighed the option of holding a special election but decided against it.

“If we had an election, February would be too soon to give people an opportunity to campaign. May would be the next viable election and that’s at a time when a lot of people are simply not available,” Plourde said. “I don’t disagree with anything that you’re saying. However, we did establish a procedure and that has some importance to us.”

Plourde said it would be too costly to hold a special election, which, according to City Clerk Kris Hazeres, would be about $22,000.

“I’m confident in this process because it’s what’s dictated in our city charter. Until you change the charter we have to abide by it,” Campana said.

Applications for the city commission vacancy will be accepted from Jan. 26 to Feb. 12.

Jaymie Depew can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206. Her email address is jdepew@miningjournal.net.