MARQUETTE - With only two days remaining to file paperwork to get on the partisan ballot for this year's elections, three candidates have announced they are running for the open District 2 seat on the Marquette County Board.
In March, veteran Commissioner Paul Arsenault said he would not seek re-election, after serving on the panel since 1988. The vacancy has created the greatest candidate response so far. All of the county board seats are up for renewal this year and three of the six sitting commissioners are not seeking re-election.
The district is home to about 10,723 residents, according to the county's 2011 reapportionment plan, and includes Negaunee, Ishpeming, Champion, Michigamme, Republic, Humboldt and Ely townships.
Earlier this month, Sheri Davie, of Negaunee Township announced she will run for the open two-year term on the panel. Democrat Joseph Derocha of Humboldt Township and Republican Justin Carlson of Negaunee Township will both be on the ballot.
The county clerk's latest election slate showed Davie had not yet filed paperwork to run.
The deadline is 4 p.m. Tuesday for partisan candidates to file an affidavit of identity and either 20 to 50 nominating petition signatures or a $100 filing fee. Non-partisan candidates need to file 60 to 150 signatures by 4 p.m. July 17.
Deadlines for withdrawal are 4 p.m. Friday for partisan candidates and 4 p.m. July 21 for non-partisans.
The primary election will be Aug. 5 and the general election will be Nov. 4.
Derocha said his motivation is his advocacy for the working person and businesses in the local community. He said job creation, environmental stewardship and enhancing the quality of life of his constituents in District 2 are the hallmarks of his vision. Derocha said he brings to the table energy, initiative, and fortitude.
"I am a local guy. I know this place and the people and they know me," Derocha said. "As a Marquette County commissioner I will keep fighting to do good things for the economy and our way of life in this place that we call home."
A lifelong county resident, Derocha has served at the Humboldt Township Supervisor since 2008.
Derocha, a successful local business owner, began in 1983 partnering with his older brothers in a family restaurant located in Ishpeming Township. He expanded the business operations to include apartment complexes, housing rentals, and land holdings.
In 1993, Derocha opened a used car dealership and created an automotive transportation company contracted by GMAC serving the Upper Peninsula and entire state of Wisconsin.
Derocha said he has years of experience working with the county board on issues critical to Marquette County and District 2 in particular.
Derocha said he has always held a keen interest in community involvement and volunteerism. Since taking office, he has donated his time and a portion of his supervisor's salary to create a pantry that serves a free monthly community lunch open to all residents. He said he has worked with local residents and officials at all levels of government to improve the economic conditions, enhance job creation opportunities and improve the quality of services to the residents of Marquette County.
Among the issues Derocha has been involved with were putting together a coalition to lobby state and federal officials, resulting in the township's acquisition of the former extremely low frequency (ELF) naval submarine communications facility; working with regulators on numerous remediation efforts for the Humboldt Mill Project; establishing a dialogue with the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community recognizing and respecting their ceded territory.
He was an instrumental part of the Marquette County negotiating team for the non-ferrous mining severance tax in Lansing and he led the effort to reactivate an abandoned rail corridor serving the Humboldt Mill.
Carlson decided to run for the board after being encouraged by family and friends and seeing a need for new leadership after Arsenault decided to not seek re-election. Carlson said he looks forward to running against Davie, who is his next-door neighbor. He said he appreciates the opportunity to seek public office to serve the people of Marquette County.
"I'm excited and honored to run for Marquette County Commission, and to have the opportunity to seek public office and serve the people of Marquette County. Although I have less formal experience than most of the people running, I have the unique skillset and motivation necessary to represent my district on the county commission," Carlson said. "I look forward to hearing from and meeting with anyone who wishes to talk about the issues critical to our area, and what we can do to improve."
Carlson has been a resident of the U.P. for the past 17 years, and he said he feels he would bring a fresh face and diverse range of experience and connections to the county board.
Some of Carlson's community involvement includes being active in the Marquette Economic Club, serving on the Communications Committee for the 40 Below Marquette County Young Professionals, and assisting with emergency communications for events, such as the Ore To Shore and Noquemanon races through the Hiawatha Amateur Radio Association.
Carlson is also a member of the Career Technical Education Committee of Marquette & Alger County, an organization that was created to improve career technical opportunities for high school and college students.
After graduating from Northern Michigan University in 2012 with a degree in entrepreneurship, Carlson started his own consulting business, which provides social media, online marketing and project management services. Through his business and community involvement, Carlson said he has come to appreciate the value and potential that Marquette County's natural, economic, and human resources have to offer.
Carlson said he looks forward to meeting with, and hearing from, Marquette County residents - in District 2 and throughout the county - in the coming months to learn more about the issues most important to this area and what improvements can be made through the county commission.
John Pepin can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206.