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6 compete for 3 open Negaunee council positions

October 31, 2009
By JOHANNA BOYLE Journal Ishpeming Bureau

NEGAUNEE - Three seats are opening up on the Negaunee City Council and voters in the city will have a range of choices to fill those spots this election. All three seats are for three-year terms.

Terms for Councilmen Tom Stanaway, Steve Perucco and Jim Thomas are all ending this November. While Stanaway is unable to run again due to term limits, Perucco and Thomas are both listed on the ballot.

Four write-in candidates are also on file with the Negaunee City Clerk's office - Joel Jarvi, Michael Haines, Diana Menhennick and Michael Van Straten.

For all the candidates, the city's current struggle with the budget is an issue the council will have to deal with in the coming years.

"We are facing some tough budget times," Perucco said. "I believe police and snow removal are important to the city of Negaunee."

Perucco is a retired Cliffs Natural Resources employee and has been active in city politics for a number of years. If elected, he said one of his goals was to decrease utility rates.

"Generally, I hope to use my imagination to push things forward," Perucco said.

Thomas also said he expected more tough choices in the future.

"One thing I learned early in my career is that you have to listen intensely when it comes to what is being said," Thomas said. A retired teacher from the Ishpeming School District, Thomas has served several terms on the city council.

For the current budget discussions, Thomas said he felt that "every avenue" should be explored in finding ways to balance services.

"A good council member is a person who goes on the council with an open agenda," he said. One of the challenges is to provide the best possible services within the constraints of the city's revenues, he added.

Haines, Menhennick and Van Straten are running on a combined platform of sustaining the core services of the community in the hopes of taking all three seats. At previous city council meetings, all three have expressed concerns over city spending.

"We're running on very similar platforms and we're certainly hoping all three of us get in," Haines said.

Ensuring city police and public works services, like plowing, are maintained is "number one" on the platform, Van Straten said.

"No hidden agendas, just deliver a good clean product to the people," he said. "We're there to serve the people."

Standing up for the city employees is also a goal of the three candidates.

"Everything's up on the chopping block this year and that will cripple employees," Menhennick said. "They're already at minimal staffing and they can't handle any more cuts of any kind."

Concerns over city spending on capital outlay projects like parks is also a concern of the three write-in candidates.

"A new direction has to be taken by the council," Haines said.

Menhennick agreed.

"The city needs strong leadership and common sense to get back on track," she said. "You need economic development, but you also need to pay attention to your core services."

All three are long-time residents of Negaunee. Haines, a former member of the U.S. Air Force, is a retired teacher from the Negaunee Public Schools, and has previously served on the city's library and cable boards.

Menhennick has also served on the library board and is currently studying for a master's degree in Public Administration, with an anticipated graduation in August 2010. She works at the Peter White Public Library in Marquette.

Van Straten is a retired member of the Negaunee Police Department where he worked for 31 years and currently works for a private security firm in Marquette.

More information on Haines', Menhennick's and Van Straten's positions can be found on the Web at

Also running as a write-in candidate is Joel Jarvi, a former employee of the Tilden and Mather B mines, a veteran and former member of the Negaunee Fire Department. Jarvi has previously served on several of the city's boards.

"I'd like to give back a little bit to the community," he said of his reason for running.

Jarvi said he encouraged positive attitudes for each of the candidates running.

In order to vote for a write-in candidate, voters need to clearly print the name of the candidate on the ballot and fill in the circle beside the name. Both the name and the circle have to be filled out for the vote to count.



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