MARQUETTE - Three people are running for two seats on the Marquette City Commission. Incumbent Johnny DePetro is running against political newcomers Russell Kangas and Jason Schneider. Both seats carry three-year terms.
Each candidate was asked several questions, including background information, why they are running for the position and their thoughts on current city topics such as the former Cliffs Dow property and the Heartwood Forestland. In alphabetical order, here are the candidates.
DePetro, 65, is a lifelong resident of Marquette. He joined the U.S. Navy in 1965 and served two tours of duty in Vietnam before being honorably discharged in 1969. He began his employment with the city in 1973, starting as a heavy equipment operator. After more than 32 years, he retired in 2004.
He said he is running to see several city projects completed, including the remediation and development of the former Cliffs Dow property and the former roundhouse property, the completion of the McClellan Avenue extension and an upgrade of the Island Beach Road area of Lakeshore Boulevard.
Regarding Cliffs Dow, he said: "Once this contaminated industrial site is cleaned up to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment's requirements, this prime waterfront property will be in big demand by developers but there will also be city land preserved for the residents and visitors of Marquette to enjoy as a public picnic and park area."
Regarding the Heartwood Forestland, he said: "The city is gathering information on different grant funding available ... before work begins on this land, I believe, there will be more citizen public forums, where people can share their thoughts and concerns. I also believe that all interested groups will work together to put this land to use for everyone to enjoy."
Kangas, 64, said he is recently retired and has lived in Marquette for 53 years.
"My wife of 36 years and I, along with our two adult daughters, are all tax-paying citizens of Marquette," he said.
"I am running for the city commission to do what I have wanted to do for some time," he said. "I would now be able to devote the proper amount of time to do the best job possible for the citizens of Marquette, and especially want the working people out there to know they have a voice on the commission."
Regarding Cliffs Dow, he said: "I would like to hear the heartbeat of the citizens of Marquette and the cost of remediation of the property before commenting further. I personally like having a site where I can dispose of brush, leaves and rubbish which is a real asset to our entire city."
In regards to the Heartwood property, he said he wants to "listen to the suggestions of all entities involved, especially the city and Marquette Township, along with groups such as the Noquemanon who bring a lot of money into the city and come to a solution that works for everyone."
Schneider, 32, had difficulty describing himself in 50 words or less.
"Fifty words or less about myself? Shoot, I just wasted 10. I've been in Marquette since 1996, I'm an alum of Northern Michigan University and been involved with EmmaJoe's, The Coop, 231 Gallery, UP with Local, MIUpperHand and spent a few years with the peace cops. This is just too short," he said.
He said he's running for the commission "because I love Marquette and I want to serve the city as a voice on the commission to represent some demographics that have not had much of a voice on the commission."
He said he would like to see the former Cliffs Dow property "developed for mixed use, but the environmental contamination needs to be completely mitigated first," he said. "There's entirely too many variables to tackle this question quickly."
Regarding the Heartwood Forestland, he said: "Marquette needs to find additional sources of revenue, but I don't believe that developing the lands that we all use for recreation is wise for the long run development of our town."
Christopher Diem can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org