MARQUETTE - Two candidates will square off Tuesday in a race for an open seat on the Marquette County Board, representing District 5.
Incumbent board Chairwoman Deborah Pellow, a Tilden Township Democrat, is being challenged by West Branch Township Republican Robert Struck, a former county commissioner, for a two-year term on the panel.
District 5 covers Forsyth, Skandia, Turin, Ewing, Wells, West Branch, Richmond and Tilden townships.
The candidates were asked to provide some details about their backgrounds they think voters should know. They were also asked why voters should elect them and what they thought were the top three challenges facing the county and how they would address those issues if elected.
Word limitations were imposed on answers.
Pellow described her background this way: "I am currently the chairwoman of the Marquette County Board and the director of the Ishpeming Wastewater Facility. In my eight years on the county board, I have served as a representative to the road commission, land bank authority, medical care facility, Marquette County Townships Association, transportation committee, airport advisory committee and the Sawyer Alliance.
"Before becoming a county commissioner, I spent 12 years as the Tilden Township Treasurer and four years as supervisor. During my tenure as a township official, I was a member of the planning and zoning board, president of the Marquette County Townships Association and director for the Michigan Townships Association."
On why voters should choose her, Pellow said, "Between the two candidates, I clearly have the most experience in county and township governance. My knowledge in tax collection/assessment, governmental accounting, environmental issues, roads, aging services, fire and police protection, zoning, water service and wastewater service, coupled with eight years of county experience and 16 years of township experience, make me the best candidate on the issues facing Marquette County.
"I have lived, understand and support unions and their basic philosophy. I was a member of AFSCME Council 25 Local 1282 for several years and continue to work closely with them, protecting the rights of workers.
"I was instrumental in eliminating the retire/rehire program, increasing services to our seniors and making overall positive changes to the administration of Marquette County. For over 24 years I have put the concerns and interests of my constituents first and I promise to do that for District 5 and all of Marquette County."
The top three challenges facing the county and how Pellow would address them include:
Struck described his background: "I've served Marquette County and the Upper Peninsula for over 30 years and have successfully accomplished numerous activities and programs throughout the area. My community service includes: Marquette County Commissioner; executive director, UP-EMS Corporation; Marquette County Planning Commissioner; developer and chairman of Sawyer Community Alliance; member of the Mackinac Bridge Authority; executive committee member of Marquette-Alger Great Start Collaborative; former West Branch Township Clerk; faculty member, National Center for Security and Preparedness. I have good working relationships at the local, county and state levels, and am the endorsed candidate of the Marquette County Labor Council. Married with young children.
On why voters should select him, Struck said, "I have a sincere interest in trying to help our local communities. My entire career has been devoted to helping people, accomplishing things, and working to make our area a better place to live.
"As county commissioner from 2005 -2010, I worked hard for my district and for all of Marquette County, attending to 'little issues' as well as 'big ones.' My record demonstrates that I had no personal agenda other than trying to have an efficient and capable county operation.
"District 5 will have eight townships, four of which I've already represented and know of the local issues. I've assisted with activities in the other townships and can provide continued, knowledgeable representation. The new county board will need members with a sense of community responsibility, as well as a sense of humor and humility."
Regarding the question of the county's top three challenges, Struck said, "Listing only the 'top three challenges' neglects the remaining numerous challenges. Instead, I've listed my 'top three ways' of addressing county challenges:
Polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. election day.
John Pepin can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206.