MARQUETTE - Two candidates will face off Tuesday for a two-year term on the Marquette County Board representing the newly created District 6.
Democrat Greg Seppanen is running against Republican Nick Smaby. Both candidates live in Chocolay Township.
The district was created through recent reapportionment. There is no current county commissioner living in District 6, which includes Precinct 2 in the city of Marquette and Sands and Chocolay townships.
The candidates were each asked to provide some details about their backgrounds they think voters should know. They were also asked why voters should elect them and what they thought were the top three challenges facing the county and how they would address those issues if elected.
Word limitations were imposed on answers.
Seppanen described his background saying: "My roots are deep in this community with my grandparents settling here from Finland over 100 years ago. I am strongly attached to this community and have worked hard over the last 30 years to contribute to its well-being.
After graduation from high school I served in the Army's Presidential Honor Guard in Washington D.C. With the help of the Gl Bill, I graduated from Northern Michigan University. I worked for Marquette Area Public Schools, first at the Alternative School as a counselor and government teacher. I then went to Marquette Senior High School teaching government, history and economics until my retirement."
On why should voters choose him, Seppanen said: "I have been working actively in the community for many years to keep this area the great place that it is for all who live here. My past community service has included being on the boards of the Marquette County Health Department, the County Board of Commissioners, Commission on Aging, Citizens To Save The Janzen, Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition, Marquette County Natural Resources Commission, Project Rehab and others.
"Presently, I am the supervisor of Chocolay Township. I have a track record of working with others in the community to focus on areas of concern and to come up with workable solutions. Whether it was our environmentally safe countywide landfill, improved senior programs, housing for the homeless, the Children's Dental Clinic, the development of a safer and more extensive trail system, or improving public safety, the focus has always been to successfully work with others to bring the community forward."
Regarding the three top challenges facing the county and how he would address them, Seppanen said:
"The county board has, on this issue, taken the correct stand and challenged the state over their latest effort with the severance tax issue on non-ferrous mining. The board is insisting that school districts and local governments are held harmless with this shift in taxes for all the new mining operations that are taking place across the Upper Peninsula."
Smaby described his background this way: "I am sales manager and minority owner of a highly successful local media group - the Radio Results Network. Before that, I worked as a local journalist in radio, print and T.V. using the pen name of 'Nick Sawyer.' This month, I celebrated 18 consecutive years of service to the Rotary Club of Marquette having served as club president, 12 years on the club's board of directors and in numerous other leadership capacities. I'm a U.P. resident for 25 years, 18 of them at my home in Harvey. Throughout it all, I have worked with hundreds of people in solving local problems."
On why voters should choose him, Smaby said: "I represent a change from the current ways of doing things. Right now, our county commission is nothing more than a rubber-stamping agency for virtually everything suggested by county administration.
"Many of our commissioners run unopposed, have been in power for far too long and have become complacent - even downright lazy. My opponent was the county commissioner when I moved here nearly two decades ago. After more than 25 years in various local offices, his only legacy seems to be larger government, increased government spending, higher property taxes on the working people of Marquette County and fatter compensation plans for himself and the county administrators he is apparently serving.
"He now wants to belly up to the government trough again. I represent the alternative to the old ways of doing business. I am not here for personal enrichment, but rather to return political power to the citizens of Marquette County."
On the three biggest challenges to the county and how he would address them, Smaby said:
Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. election day.
John Pepin can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206.