MARQUETTE - Craig Miller, a retired operating engineer with the Marquette Board of Light and Power, is one of seven candidates who will be listed on Tuesday's primary ballot running for a seat on the Marquette City Commission.
Miller, 66, was asked three questions by The Mining Journal that have been asked of all the candidates.
Why are you running for city commission?
"I just want to essentially give something back to the community," Miller said. "I believe I have something to offer. I worked for the city of Marquette. I was an operating engineer at the power plant. Let's face it, the future of the Presque Isle power facility is in doubt, and our own utility is a very reliable utility."
Miller said he also is concerned with making a balanced budget, continuing to pare down debt, preserving utilities and working toward a good infrastructure, particularly in Shiras Hills.
Miller also said Marquette needs to be part of the SmartZone movement.
"We need a strategic plan to get high-tech companies, information-based companies, that can offer decent-based jobs," he said.
What are the city's strengths?
"We're right on the shore of Lake Superior," he said. "That's the biggest strength we've got."
Miller said Marquette has one of the most beautiful downtowns, at least in northern Michigan.
Miller said forest products, mining, tourism and the presence of Northern Michigan University are other city strengths, as is the ability to get people to invest in the area.
"We've been able to successfully adjust, transitioning away from manufacturing an industrial base, which we used to have," Miller said.
That transition is due to a few factors, according to Miller.
"We can thank good city planning, and a good partnership between the public and the private sector," he said.
What are the city's weaknesses?
"If We Energies shuts down Presque Isle, that's going to be a loss of probably $1.5 million in PILT, not to mention 170 jobs will be gone," he said. "They're the biggest payers in payment in lieu of taxes."
If Empire Mine closes, that will pose another challenge, he said.
He said the city must look at how the economy adjusts to changes.
"I can remember times when half of Marquette County was on relief," Miller said. "But over time, we managed to make adjustments to the new reality, and that's going to be our biggest challenge, probably."
Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250.