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Marquette voters to elect new commissioners

Evan Bonsall
Sally Davis
Andrew Lorinser
Nina van den Ende

MARQUETTE — Marquette city residents will have the opportunity to cast their ballots for two of four candidates in the upcoming general election for the Marquette City Commission on Tuesday.

Candidates for the Marquette City Commission are Evan Bonsall, Sally R. Davis, Andrew Lorinser and Nina van den Ende, as these four candidates received the most votes out of nine candidates in the August primary election. There are also two write-in candidates who officially registered with the Marquette City Clerk’s Office, Margaret Brumm and John Taylor.

The elected candidates will each serve three years on the commission. Commissioners are limited to two consecutive terms.

The openings on the panel are due to the term limits of Mayor Pro Tem Sarah Reynolds and Commissioner Dave Campana, who were both initially elected in November 2013 and then re-elected in November 2016.

The Marquette City Commission is the seven-member legislative branch of city government. Its duties are representing the residents of Marquette, establishing policies and approving budgets.

The seven commissioners are elected during nonpartisan, city-wide elections. The mayor and mayor pro tem are commission members elected to the positions by the commission itself each year.

The Marquette City Commission also has the power to hire a city manager, a city attorney and appoint residents to serve on advisory boards.

The commission is required by law to conduct its business at public meetings at least twice a month. At these meetings, typically held at the Marquette City Hall in Commission Chambers, the commission’s actions are accomplished through ordinance, resolution, motion or order.

Candidates are presented below in alphabetical order by last name. Each was asked the same questions via email with replies limited to a set number of words. Their answers are printed as received. Any words exceeding the limit have been deleted.

Cecilia Brown can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248.

Evan Bonsall

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

I was born and raised here in Marquette in a working-class, union household, went to local public schools, and earned a degree in Government at Harvard on a need-based scholarship. I’m young, but I have 4 years of experience serving on 3 different appointed City boards and I work for Marquette County, so I know how local government works. I can provide a fresh perspective, but I also have the experience to get things done.

2.) What do you think are the most important issues facing the city? (100 words)

We need to focus on housing affordability. Inflation-adjusted Marquette home prices have doubled since 1985, and went up 12 percent last year alone. Rent is also rising rapidly in the City due to a rental housing shortage. We must amend our zoning code to encourage incremental affordable housing development, and ensure that new developments expand the supply of affordable housing.

Utility rates are another major pocketbook issue for City residents. Rate increases should be spread out over a longer time period to reduce their impact on City residents with limited incomes.

You can learn more about my platform at EvanBonsall.com/issues.

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

I am running for Marquette City Commission because I plan on living here in Marquette for many years to come, and I want to make sure our City has a bright future. Young people and working families will be the foundation of that future, but rising housing costs and a lack of economic opportunity are forcing them out of the City. Left unchecked, this will erode our local tax base and drain our community of its economic and social vitality.

I have a detailed and realistic plan to address rising housing costs, and it won’t cost a single taxpayer dollar. You can read that plan at my website, EvanBonsall.com.

Marquette is growing, but we must do so without sacrificing the unique assets — our public lakeshore, trails, and forestlands — which make people want to live here in the first place. I would help restore that balance and encourage sustainable, inclusive growth.

Finally, as a young person I would bring a fresh perspective to the City Commission. 30 percent of voting-age City residents are under the age of 30, but we don’t have single City Commissioner under the age of 30. I would provide representation for a new generation of Marquette residents.

Sally Davis

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

I am an Upper Peninsula native who has lived in Marquette since 1981. A 35-year career in health care management gave me significant experience in program development, budgeting, supervision, strategic planning and federal granting. I co-owned Campus Pharmacy for 19 years with my husband of 41 years. My years of community commitment includes service on many boards, including president of Marquette Rotary, president of U.P. Rowing, and secretary of the Harbor Advisory Committee.

2.) What do you think are the most important issues facing the city? (100 words)

The budget is the highest priority for the commission. An adequate income and tax base, combined with prudent spending, is necessary to provide the basic municipal services such as fire safety, police protection, infrastructure, utilities, roads, and snow removal.

Lake shore protection is high on the list of items the new commission will need to address. The recent devastation from Fair Street to Pine Street is evidence of the stress that Superior puts on our shoreline. Other issues that will be addressed soon are the Cliffs Dow property, closing of the power plants, and continued economic development.

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

I have proven my leadership skills in the work place and in my many years of community service. I believe in public/private partnerships to leverage funds for City improvements. My commitment to the community, and the networks I have developed over the years, will add to the talents and strengths of the other commissioners. Having been a home owner in the City since 1981, I understand the consequences that commission decisions have on taxpayers. Having been a small business owner, I understand the stressors of start-up and the importance of job creation. I am committed to understanding all sides of an issue prior to decision making, and welcome conversations from City residents. A city commissioner fulfills an important civic duty, and decisions have consequences far into the future. Experience matters.

Andrew Lorinser

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

This city raised me. From kindergarten to college, I was educated here. I started a small business downtown, worked in journalism and in the non-profit sector. I currently work at the Center for Native American Studies at NMU. I hope to use my skills in public relations to enhance government communication and transparency. For three decades I’ve called Marquette home. It’s given me so much, and I’m now eager to serve its people.

2.) What do you think are the most important issues facing the city? (100 words)

This term, City Commission will define the direction and identity of Marquette for the next half-century. I’ve developed a robust platform with significant citizen input to address affordable housing, rental rates, shoreline and trail protection, and responsible development. I am a proponent of a more inclusive, more representative city, one that gives citizens a voice with a Community Benefits Agreement. A CBA gives citizens a seat at the table to officially create recommendations on development projects. The goal is to ignite better jobs while mandating environmental protections. I hope to foster an environment that encourages citizen retention, property ownership for …

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

To lead Marquette, we need a fresh perspective and new ideas. It’s important to see the city from a wider lens but remain focused on people. Right now, Marquette generates revenue exclusively through property taxes. To make up for a loss in the tax base, we’re selling and developing a lot of land. We’ve also raised utility rates. It can fund necessary improvements, but the consequences are the paralyzing burdens it places on our residents. People are leaving the city, others are not investing in their properties, and some are falling out of love with Marquette.

I want us to fall back in love with our city. We can responsibly bring vacant, blighted properties back on the tax roll. But, I hope to ignite more creative ways to equitably fund amenities than becoming beholden only to new development. We have to fight for the rights of the hardworking laborers who build the city, protect the environment, and foster more affordable neighborhoods to welcome back our families.

With me, citizens will have an advocate on commission. Commissioners need to be good listeners because a government works best by the people. Your voice matters. I hear you, Marquette.

Nina van den Ende

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

I grew up in Big Bay and attended MSHS (class of 1990). Then, I attended NMU and lived in Marquette ever since. I was on the swim team at NMU and worked hard. I paid for my own education. I am currently married with 2 children in school. I am now a nurse practitioner working at Jacobetti Home for Veterans. I am an avid runner and enjoy doing the Marquette Marathon and MqtTrail 50 races.

2.) What do you think are the most important issues facing the city? (100 words)

Important issues facing the city are the closure of Presque Isle power plant, which paid $1.6 million in taxes and now pays about $300,000/year and maintaining our infrastructure without raising taxes or utilities. Our increasing debt is also very important. Another issue that is important to voters is overdevelopment of the waterfront. As I knocked on doors, a lot of people told me, “We don’t want to be another Traverse City.” I want to preserve the beauty and recreational opportunities of our 9 miles of lakefront. I would like to improve communication between the Commission and citizens.

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

Voters should choose me because I am extremely hard working, honest and fair. I can manage the budget and work as a team with other commissioners. I have experience. I have been serving on the Traffic/Parking Advisory committee for 5 years. I have contributed to Marquette over the last 28 years and volunteered for many organizations including: extensive coaching, Girl Scouts, camp nurse, previous YMCA member and donor, previous member and donor to U.P. Children’s Museum, youth football donor. As a registered nurse, I worked in ICU for many years. Decisions I made for patients directly affected whether they lived or died. As a nurse, I always need to be cost effective. I am accustomed to caring for people in tough situations and problem solving. While I was an RN, I was a member of the union at MGH and I appreciate the value of unions. I will work to continue improving infrastructure while keeping property taxes down/decrease spending. This will require some development but I would like to keep development set back from the lake and keep the lakefront public. I would encourage programs/jobs that keep youth here in Marquette. I am in favor of using local contractors.