MARQUETTE - Brice Burge, owner and editor of the news blog Marquette Social Scene, is one of seven candidates who will be listed on Tuesday's primary ballot running for a seat on the Marquette City Commission.
Three vacant seats are up for election. Mayor Robert Niemi, Mayor Pro Tem Fred Stonehouse and Commissioner Don Ryan can't run for re-election due to term limits.
Burge, 26, is owner and editor of Marquette Social Scene, a local news blog that connects emerging media techniques with a local focus. He is the game day operations director for the women's club hockey team at Northern Michigan University and a writer for the NFL blogging site cover32.com, covering the Seattle Seahawks and Philadelphia Eagles. He also is one of the front desk agents at the Landmark Inn.
He was asked three questions by The Mining Journal that have been asked of all the candidates.
Why you are running for city commission?
"I made a conscious decision that this area was going to be my home seven years ago and I want to be able to make Marquette my home for life," Burge said. "Fighting brain drain is a problem for all of Michigan and stopping that will be key locally when the mines eventually close.
"Being an outsider with lots of ties to service and tourism industries allows me to see how national, state and regional trends affect other areas differently than the born-here, stay-here people. That perspective will help a seven-member board balance policies for all of Marquette's citizens and workers. I know that will complement what the other commissioners will bring."
What are the city's strengths?
"Marquette has a vibrant city that puts in hard work to get things done," Burge said. "There's no way the tourism industry thrives without that effort from all kinds of people. It's balanced too by the unique historical, cultural and athletic personality of the area. It's also the biggest city of the area and we really haven't used that to our potential in attracting businesses.
"The people of this area can provide that small-town charm but as a government we need to start acting with a little bit of swagger as the flagship city of the Upper Peninsula."
What are the city's weaknesses?
"No one is keeping businesses inside the city," he said. "It took the hospital threatening to leave before people finally realized local businesses have been leaving the city for the township's cheaper taxes. The trend sneaks by since they are still available just past the ambiguous city limits, but it destroys the city's tax revenue." Burge said creating a chamber of commerce will help retain these businesses.
Connecting city elected officials to the community also helps, he noted.
"Communication is always the most important and hardest aspect of public service," Burge said. "I'll lead by example by answering phone calls, texts and emails or meet at a local business to help get people involved."
Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250.