3 seats open for Marquette commission

Tom Baldini

MARQUETTE — Two incumbents and four newcomers are vying for three open seats on the Marquette City Commission in Tuesday’s election.

The top three vote-getters will join four sitting members on the commission. The terms of Mayor Pro-Tem Tom Baldini and Commissioners Mike Conley and Peter Frazier are expiring.

The non-partisan seven-member commission acts as the legislative branch of city government.

Commissioners serve three-year terms and may not serve more than two consecutive terms.

Each candidate was asked three identical questions via email, with strict word limits. Below are the questions, followed by their replies in alphabetical order.

Justin Brugman


1.) List a few details of your background you think voters would want to know. (75 words)

2.) What do you think is the single most important issue facing the district? (100 words)

3.) Why do you think voters should choose you? (200 words)

Tom Baldini

1.) I was a former teacher and administrator in the Marquette Area Public Schools for 22 years; Founder of the Marquette County Community Foundation; Past President – MAPS Foundation; Founder and Program Chair Marquette County Economic Club; Chair of the 4th of July Fireworks Committee; an aide to Governor Blanchard, Congressman Stupak and Federal Commissioner. I have been involved in the life of our community and some of the programs that make our community special.

Peter Frazier

2.) No single issue takes precedent – finances, managing growth and retaining local control. The most challenging is finances. We have worked to control cost and generate financial resources to maintain the quality of our City despite the reduction in revenue sharing from the State. We are planning for the negative impact of the closing of the Presque Isle Power Plant. The exciting growth in our area will require us to plan and consider the future and infrastructure we will need to meet those demands. With our smart planning and fiscal responsibility we are sustaining our community and quality of life.

3.) I am completing my first three year term. It has been an exciting and challenging time for our City. Since my election in 2014 a great deal has been accomplished – the construction of a new Service Center; the work on the new hospital has begun; the old orphanage has been renovated; new downtown businesses have opened along with construction for new apartments and condominiums; a 1000 feet of lake frontage has been added to City ownership; a new garbage contract has been signed; a plan to reduce our energy consumption and save money has been inaugurated and other developments that made this a better community and helps create jobs. Our City is at a positive pivotal point in its growth and development. We have received many accolades for what we have all done to make Marquette a special place. I believe I can provide a smooth and important bridge to continue this progress and maintain our quality of life. I do my homework and prepare for meetings. I have the experience, knowledge, background and energy to serve another term as a Commissioner and would appreciate your vote to permit me to continue in this position.

Justin Brugman

1.) I am a lifelong resident of Marquette. I’m a 2007 graduate from MSHS, and a 2013 graduate of NMU. I have a Bachelors degree in political science, and I spent many years on NMU’s student government (ASNMU). Currently I work as a certified optician at Downtown Eyecare. I am also the co-chair of the Twilight Rotary Club and Vice-President of our local chapter of PFLAG.

2.) One of the most important issues facing our city is money. We are constantly seeing less money coming in through the state’s revenue sharing. We are also seeing the Dark Store issue affect our local municipalities. We need to work on creating a budget with less, and this can be done by making things in the city more efficient.

We also need to work with Lansing to fix the revenue sharing and the Dark Store problems. I would like to see anything but another decrease to our revenue sharing.

Tony Ghiringhelli

3.) I think voters should choose me because I will make myself available to the voters. I will be available to answer any questions or address any concerns via in-person, email, or phone.

During my time as the Student Body President at NMU, I orchestrated a “Let’s Chat” event between City Officials and the NMU Community. I would like to bring something similar to that program to the Marquette Community on a reoccurring basis, perhaps monthly.

Being a life-long resident of Marquette, I have passion for the Marquette community, and I see being on the City Commission as a way to serve our community, but I don’t have all the answers. That is why I want to be available to the voters of Marquette.

I want to hear all your concerns, questions, and ideas! My email is justinbrugman@gmail.com, email me any concerns or questions you might have.

Peter Frazier

1.) I Graduated from MSHS in ’93 and Ferris State in ’99 except for my time away at college I lived in Marquette my whole life. Currently, I am involved with helping a group & city build an Inclusive playground at the Mattson Park. I have been a member of city commission for about 3 years. Also a member of Presque Isle Park Advisory Committee for 4 yrs prior. Also, love boating and the outdoors.

Jermey Ottaway


The City Commission has been working with the Fire chief to adopt and update Fire Codes. The code advances fire and life safety for the public and just helps ensure safety for the fireman or 1st responders as well as property protection. This code will not overwrite any building codes,


This was a hot issue all summer Hotels feel B&B hurts their business some feel it ruins neighborhoods Marquette has new rules we will see how its adapted in the future.

3.) I ran for Marquette City Commission because I want to work hard to keep Marquette one of the best places to live in Michigan, much like my great great grandfather Peter White did. He saw something special and unique about this community and I do, too. I want to be involved to help make wise decisions that will benefit current and future residents as well as those who visit our Marquette. People were upset with power bill increasing, but the city needs reliable power and some people need power for life support or to help get around.

Fred Stonehouse

One thing I have learned as part of that city commission is action speaks louder than words, so when it comes to projects or problems I prefer researching the problem to find a solution.

Being a boater I have always been interested in how people view our town when visiting from the water and I feel development near the water is important to visitors.

Tony Ghiringhelli

1.) My Name is Tony Ghiringhelli and I am a lifelong resident of the Upper Peninsula. I grew up in Gwinn and graduated from there in 2000. I have lived in the city of Marquette for the past 15 years. I am a husband and a father of both a son and daughter ages 4 and 2. I am a displaced steelworker at this time due to the idling of the Empire mine.

2.) I feel the city of Marquette has many issues to deal with but the biggest one is good jobs for working families. I feel the city should have Community Benefit Ordinances in place that will guarantee local jobs for local workers.

We have a very skilled workforce in this area but contractors are bringing in out of state workers to complete major construction projects while our own local workers are struggling to find good jobs with benefits to support their families. With CBOs in place it will be required to utilize the local workforce and give us jobs we deserve.

3.) I know the struggles most families are dealing with in this area. I love living in the city of Marquette and want to raise my family here but it is getting harder to do when good jobs are being lost and with a housing market that is growing at a 40% increase compared to the rest of the state. We also keep losing revenue sharing from the state through tax loopholes. Marquette is a very clean and safe city to live in but if these problems are not addressed we are going to eventually see public services cut and families moving away because they cannot afford to stay here.

As a city commissioner I will work with other elected officials to try and close tax loopholes and get back money the city has been losing. I will make sure we keep our police, fire, and public service departments strong so that we do remain a safe and clean city that we can all enjoy. I will be proud to serve the wonderful people of Marquette and will listen to every concern that comes before me. I will be a commissioner that you will know you can turn to for help.

Jermey Ottaway

1.) I’ve lived in Marquette for most of my life. I’m married and have three young children. I graduated from MSHS then NMU. Since then, I have worked within the claims organization of Farmers Insurance. My job has taught me amazing people skills, which I believe are essential to succeeding in local government. I have learned how to listen to people’s wants and needs and know the importance of this to ultimately solve problems together.

2.) The most important issue in any local government is the budget. The city commission will need to be able to find creative ways to generate revenue to help with the increasing costs of operating the city. It is extremely important to find alternative streams of revenue as opposed to relying on the local taxpayers.

The budget is something our community doesn’t know enough about. I plan to inform people about where the city’s money goes and how their taxes are being spent. This will allow people living in Marquette the opportunity to voice real concerns and ideas about the budget.

3.) Voters in Marquette should choose me because I want the job. I want to put in the time and energy to represent the people of this community in the best way possible. Residents in the city deserve to have a commission that listens to their problems and is willing to work with them to solve them. If elected, I will do everything I can to ensure that happens.

I want to connect with the public. I want them to be informed. Currently, most people only find out about the happenings of our city government after a decision has been made. We need to get more citizens involved. Marquette is a wonderful community with amazing people. Everyone living here should be informed and should get the opportunity to come before the commission to share their opinions. I plan to use every platform including social media to keep the people of our community up to date with the happenings of our city government.

I love Marquette. This is one of the most unique and amazing cities in the country and I, like many other residents want to do everything I can to ensure it stays that way.

Fred Stonehouse

1.) I am a NMU graduate and US Army veteran. I have served on a number of city committees; Harbor Advisory, Harbor Planning, Income Tax Study, and Local Development Finance Authority including two terms on the City Commission (2008-2014). In addition I serving as the City representative and Vice Chair – Policy to the statewide Michigan Ports Collaborative. I also am President and a founding member of the Marquette Maritime Museum (volunteer).

2.) Creating a climate supporting economic development while keeping the values our citizens cherish is critical. We can’t sacrifice those qualities that “make Marquette special” to chase every dubious proposal. We need to improve the ability of “city hall” to work with business, not at the cost of our standards but finding ways to help developers meet them. For too long Marquette has exported three things: wood, rocks (iron ore) and our children. We were sending our future elsewhere because good employment opportunities were largely lacking. We need to break that cycle in Marquette by bringing good jobs to our city.

3.) I am running to keep the city moving forward to the benefit of all our citizens. A commissioner must represent all the people; those that voted for him, against him and did not vote at all. We are at a critical point with declining state revenue and increasing financial demands. Having experienced knowledgeable leaders on the commission to make the tough decisions is vital. I have shown by my record I am that leader. During my previous two terms on the commission I helped lay the foundation for solid economic development establishing the Smart Zone (together with NMU and MTU) and the Marquette-Delta County Superior Trade Zone. Working as a commission we were able to keep the hospital in the city, reach an agreement with Eagle Mine to pay for repair to Wright St., establish Clark Park and transfer the old Coast Guard property to the city. Marquette is unique in that the city owns perhaps 95 per cent of it’s waterfront. The new Clark’s Park and the old Coast Guard property added even more. The public waterfront is and should be in “trust” for our citizens. Our lakeshore is sacred. I also support exploring regional solutions to common problems.


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