MARQUETTE - Marquette Mayor John Kivela announced his candidacy for the 109th District seat in the state House today.
Kivela, who has been on the Marquette City Commission since 2006 and mayor since 2008, is seeking the seat of outgoing Rep. Steve Lindberg, D-Marquette. Lindberg is unable to run for re-election due to term limits.
Kivela's term on the city commission expires in 2012. He is also facing term limits with regard to city office, and said this is the perfect time to run for state representative.
"It's something I've thought about for years and years and I think the timing is right," he said.
He said he believes he's made a difference in the Marquette community and he hopes he can make a difference statewide.
"We all know what's happening on a state and federal level and I think there's a lot of room down in Lansing for some common sense," Kivela said.
Although he said he's fiscally conservative, Kivela said he is running as a Democrat.
"I will describe myself as a social Democrat that's fiscally conservative. I believe that we have a lot of great programs in this state that help those that need them but we also need to balance that with the ability to pay for them," he said.
Marquette resident Tony Retaskie has also announced his candidacy for Lindberg's seat. Kivela and Retaskie, both running as Democrats, will face each other in the 2012 primary election.
Kivela said his experience on the city commission has prepared him for state government.
"What's guided me through my years as a city commissioner and mayor is a simple adage: Do the right thing, study the issues and do what's best for your constituents. Period," he said. "It's really not rocket science. Thought and common sense are so much in need and that, unfortunately, is where we seem to have a shortage down in Lansing."
Kivela said unemployment and the loss of manufacturing jobs will continue to plague the state. To make up for the losses, he said Michigan needs a better educated workforce and should put an emphasis on secondary education.
"We have to have great, available, secondary education. Those things come with price tags. And we realize, we have to have the money to pay for these things," he said. "How do we do that? We also need to make an attractive environment for businesses and companies to flourish because they are going to be paying the bulk share of the taxes. We need that tax money to fund what's really important."
Christopher Diem can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.