Marquette Council candidates talk tourism, economic development and more

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Tracy Melver

Eleanor Soulli

Pamela Brodie-Fitzgerald

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

Marquette residents will take to the polls Tuesday, Nov. 3, to elect a new mayor and two new council members. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Marquette Community Center.

Current mayor Norma Mason chose not to run again, and no candidates filed for the position, leaving the election of the mayor up to write-in votes. To-date, the North Iowa Times is aware that Larry Breuer and David Schneider have declared themselves as write-in candidates. In order for the vote to count, their full names must be used.

Councilmen Jason Winter and Galen McShane also chose not to seek re-election. Three candidates—Tracy Melver, Pamela Brodie-Fitzgerald and Eleanor Soulli—are vying for those two seats. The candidates’ feelings on some of the issues facing Marquette follow.

 

Tracy Melver

Tracy Melver is employed at Lady Luck Casino and is married to Marlene, who works at 3M. He served two terms on the city council, police commission and personnel committee and worked to get the hotel/motel tax passed that last year generated $65,000 of outside money. He is currently on the board of adjustment.

Why are you running for city council? The residents deserve someone who will show up and work for the community as a whole, not the special interests of a few.

How will you interact with or address concerns from people within the community? I will listen to ideas and concerns, bring them to the council and make decisions that are in the best interest of the city as a whole. 

Tourism and economic development are hot topics in Marquette. What efforts would you like to see the city take to attract tourists and businesses? Efforts are already in place such as business grants. Marquette needs to give people reasons to stop, visit and live here. During my first two terms, those goals were worked toward. The city had $4 million in cash and $400,000 in TIF revenue, a total of $4.4 million. Now, the city has $3.8 million in cash and $3.2 million in TIF revenue, a total of $7 million, and has paved the parking lot under the bridge for residents, the flood control project, city hall-community center that residents can rent for $25, paved Timber Ridge, the Wetlands Centre, boardwalk/overlook, new shelter on the riverfront and the Pleasant Ridge water main. 

What are some positive aspects of Marquette that you would like to see enhanced or more greatly promoted? How would you suggest doing this? Marquette is in a unique area that we can take advantage of with a campground on the roundhouse property and hiking, biking, and walking trails tied into the downtown. This and more can be accomplished with a progressive, forward-thinking council that’ll work for the community. 

What are some challenges/issues facing Marquette that you would work to address? How will you do this? One of our biggest challenges is our downtown, empty lots and deteriorating buildings. A plan needs to be made and followed through.

 

Eleanor Soulli

Eleanor Soulli has lived in Marquette since 1957. She has three children: Patricia Siegele, Jim Soulli and Brenda Trudo. Eleanor owned the Marquette Bar and Cafe for 30 years and currently works at The Riverview, in McGregor. Her previous involvement with city government includes two terms as mayor and one on the city council.

Why are you running for city council? People asked if I would run again. It wasn’t going to hurt anything, so I decided to run and threw my hat in.

How will you interact with or address concerns from people within the community? I hope to try to get things on the agenda for taxpayers. They are what makes the city exist, and they should be heard.

Tourism and economic development are hot topics in Marquette. What efforts would you like to see the city take to attract tourists and businesses? People love to come to small-town areas, and they’ve been coming for years and years. People from all over the world stop in Marquette and McGregor. Small-town friendliness is better than anything to attract people to the area. Businesses have to feel welcome in order to come to town. You have to try and cooperate with them.

What are some positive aspects of Marquette that you would like to see enhanced or more greatly promoted? How would you suggest doing this? Definitely our museum, and our flea markets need to keep going and have more emphasis put on them. People don’t always buy, but they still come to town to investigate. Our parks also need to stay kept up.

What are some challenges/issues facing Marquette that you would work to address? How will you do this? One challenge is that we have a ditch in twin bluffs [on Pleasant Ridge Road] that’s been over its bank four times, so I’d like to see what can be done about that. I even got water in my basement. We have to keep everything done or it costs more money down the road. We also need a place for yard stuff to be taken care of. There’s no use planting trees if, when they need to be cut down, there’s no where to take them. Otherwise, I will investigate and see what has to be done. I will make sure the citizens get taken care of first.

 

Pamela Brodie-Fitzgerald

Pamela Brodie-Fitzgerald has lived in Marquette for 22 years with her husband, Mike Fitzgerald. They own a house on the bench, where they raised their son, Robert. Mike grew up in Marquette and his mother, Dorothy, spent most of her life there. Pamela went into the military when she was 17 and also has an associates degree in child care. She is currently honored to be the commander of the American Legion Post #305 in Marquette.

Why are you running for city council? It is my belief that it is time to stabilize the city of Marquette. We need more people on the council who listen to the residents of Marquette as well as the businesses. I believe the city needs to be more open and above board with the public. Personally, I would like to have the council meetings taped and aired on the city’s website so all residents can be well-informed.

How will you interact with or address concerns from people within the community? The same way I interact with and address concerns of anyone, whether it be family, friends or the members of the American Legion. They can call me, come over or meet me for coffee, hot cocoa or drinks. Everyone who knows me knows that I speak my mind. I don’t have a shy bone in my body and no topic is off-limits. I will have no trouble discussing any issue that comes up or needs to be brought up at a city council meeting.

Tourism and economic development are hot topics in Marquette. What efforts would you like to see the city take to attract tourists and businesses? The city needs more year-round businesses that attract local residents and/or visitors in the winter months. It is time to work with what we have and stop doing million-dollar projects. We do get help from grants, but grants won’t pay for it all. It would also be nice to see city-wide Wi-Fi so everyone can access websites of local tourist attractions.

What are some positive aspects of Marquette that you would like to see enhanced or more greatly promoted? How would you suggest doing this? There are a few things that we should be doing that go hand-in-hand with the idea of working with what we have. The park shelter/food stand needs upgrading. A young man is doing some work for his Eagle Scout project (along with volunteers), but more is going to be needed. The Depot Museum needs an addition that I believe the city should help with, as it draws tourists to the city and its businesses. We need to remember that Marquette is a small family community, not the biggest little city west of the Mississippi.

What are some challenges/issues facing Marquette that you would work to address? How will you do this? We need to remember that 95 percent of Marquette residents don’t really care about tourism. They live here because they love the small town life. We need to take care of the people who live here. We need a permanent access on and off the bench in case of emergency or the 45-minute train. We also need to start saving the town’s money. If the Lady Luck ever leaves this community sometime down the road, then we will need funding for all these projects we are doing for upkeep and maintenance. Eventually, that will fall to the taxpayers, and we need to be ready for that.

Any other brief comments? We have a beautiful small town. Mike and I would never consider living anywhere else. I want Marquette to stay a beautiful small town. I would appreciate your vote on Nov. 3. Remember, voting will take place in the city’s community room in Marquette.

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