Candidate Profiles: Marquette Council

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Elizabeth Gilman

David Schneider

Eleanor Soulli

Marquette voters will have a choice between three candidates to fill two open seats on the Marquette City Council when they head to the polls for city and school board elections on Tuesday, Nov. 5. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Marquette Community Center. The highest vote-getters will serve four-year terms on the council. Included on the ballot are Elizabeth Gilman, David Schneider and Eleanor L. Soulli. The candidates recently shared their thoughts on some of the issues that are important to Marquette residents.

Elizabeth Gilman

Elizabeth Gilman is married to Michael Gilman and is employed as a security supervisor for Securitas at 3M in Prairie du Chien, Wis. She has volunteered as an EMT with the Mar-Mac Rescue Squad, was a CPR/first aid instructor through the American Heart Association and coached three years of girls basketball with the MFL MarMac Basketball Club. Gilman is currently serving on the Driftless Area Wetlands Centre board.

Why are you running for city council?

I decided to run for city council because I feel that, with my leadership experience, I can assist the city in moving forward and creating a wonderful town to visit and live in.

How do you think the city can/should support economic development and business growth?

I believe first we need to make sure that we are supporting our current businesses and that they are thriving. Once that is done, then bringing in other businesses can be done. This would include helping with marketing (social media), working with the chamber of commerce and promoting activities.

We also need to have a vision plan. Where do we want to be in five, 10 and 15 years, and how can we do it? This is something I am very passionate about and hope that I will be able to get this started if elected to city council.

At a recent council meeting, one resident cited a need for more community events to both draw visitors and support the businesses. Do you see a need for additional activities in Marquette? If so, what - and how should they be organized and financed?

I believe we have a lot to do in Marquette. We need to look at all the events and see if there is any way we can assist in making them better or possibly offer suggestions to help grow it. We need to start capitalizing on what we have right now, but suggestions should always be welcomed.    

Over the past year, the city has invested in solar projects at well number four in the Timber Ridge subdivision and at the Driftless Area Wetlands Centre. Plans are also in the works to solar power the city shop and sewer plant. How do you feel about these investments, and what more do you think the city could do to benefit from clean energy and also protect the environment?

I think these are great investments and a move in the right direction for the city’s future. I think that maybe we could offer more clean-up days and recycling days. I know it has been done in the past, but I think it could really help in keeping the city cleaned up.

Looking at the city budget, is there a specific area where you’d like to see spending increased or decreased? Why?

I have looked at the city budget and, to be able to make an informed decision on where money gets increased or decreased, I would need to better educate myself on each of the categories listed. I plan to look more into spending and planning if elected to city council.

Although separate cities, Marquette and McGregor share functions like the police and fire departments and chamber of commerce, and are often viewed as a big community. Do you think the cities should work more together? What are some ways they could do so?

This is a very tricky question. I feel they are working together well currently, but we need to make sure that continues. Both cities need to keep promoting each other and supporting each other’s events. This is important because, to tourists, we are a big community.  

We also need to come together and make sure that we are properly supporting EMS, fire and law enforcement. All three entities proudly serve both communities and we need to show support to them.  

 

David Schneider

David Schneider is married to Meaghan and has four children. He worked with Walmart for 25 years, before joining Pepsi Cola for the past seven. Schneider is active at St. Mary’s Church and has served as a Cub Scout leader and on Marquette’s planning and zoning commission. In September, he was appointed to the Marquette Council, filling the seat vacated by Pamela Brodie-Fitzgerald that runs through December 2019.

Why are you running for city council?

After my short time as mayor [in 2015], I still felt like I had something to offer the city. I want to do things to help improve Marquette and its attractions and make the town more appealing for people to want to live and visit.

How do you think the city can/should support economic development and business growth?

One thing we could offer is help with writing business plans. Doing anything like that would be beneficial. We also have to do a good job promoting events and creating events.

At a recent council meeting, one resident cited a need for more community events to both draw visitors and support the businesses. Do you see a need for additional activities in Marquette? If so, what - and how should they be organized and financed?

I’ve always felt strongly that we need to continue to do things to bring new people to town. Times change, and what people are looking for changes, and we have to be willing to do new things, whether that’s using an event coordinator or working with the chamber. I’d love to see more events coordinated between the two towns, like a Northeast Iowa BBQ event or something along the river. I think we could do it. We’ve got to get the chamber, the businesses and the people in the community interested in being involved to make it happen. It takes local ideas and initiative.

Over the past year, the city has invested in solar projects at well number four in the Timber Ridge subdivision and at the Driftless Area Wetlands Centre. Plans are also in the works to solar power the city shop and sewer plant. How do you feel about these investments, and what more do you think the city could do to benefit from clean energy and also protect the environment?

Going solar—anything we can do to be more environmentally friendly and help the community help the environment—is a great initiative. We should continue to look at options for down the road, like the street lights or the park—anywhere we can use solar to offset costs. We also need to be aware of our zoning and make sure we’re using our city properties in environmentally friendly ways.

Looking at the city budget, is there a specific area where you’d like to see spending increased or decreased? Why?

I haven’t dived too deeply yet, but I think hotel/motel tax is an area we need to make sure we’re spending the right way. We also have to maintain what we’ve got—city streets and the sewer system. Look at long-term fixes, and not just short-term fixes, for repairs.

Although separate cities, Marquette and McGregor share functions like the police and fire departments and chamber of commerce, and are often viewed as a big community. Do you think the cities should work more together? What are some ways they could do so?

Obviously, police and fire department and EMS are a big thing, but tourism also has a big impact, and we need to do a better job of working together and promoting the marinas and riverfronts.

 

Eleanor L. Soulli

Incumbent Eleanor L. Soulli is a mother of three who has lived in Marquette since 1957. She ran the Marquette Bar and Cafe for 30 years. Her previous government experience includes two terms as Marquette Mayor, and she’s finishing up her second four-year stint on the city council this year. 

Why are you running for city council?

I contacted a lot of people, asking if they’d run for city council, and I couldn’t get anyone to run. I didn’t want Marquette to not have anybody running, so I decided to put my name in.

How do you think the city can/should support economic development and business growth?

Business growth is kind of hard. We don’t have a lot of places in Marquette for businesses. But economic development we definitely should support. People like to come here because people are so friendly. That brings people in more than anything. 

At a recent council meeting, one resident cited a need for more community events to both draw visitors and support the businesses. Do you see a need for additional activities in Marquette? If so, what - and how should they be organized and financed?

In the summertime I do. We have the park, which is a nice area. Inside, we have the community room, which a lot of people use, and we have the Driftless Area Wetlands Centre. I think we have enough places; we just need to take advantage of it more. I would like the chamber to do more, plus the city helping in different things, but we don’t want to tie our city workers up a lot either. 

After you have one event, you take the money you make from that and work your way up. I don’t think the city should have to put all its money into it.

Over the past year, the city has invested in solar projects at well number four in the Timber Ridge subdivision and at the Driftless Area Wetlands Centre. Plans are also in the works to solar power the city shop and sewer plant. How do you feel about these investments, and what more do you think the city could do to benefit from clean energy and also protect the environment?

I think it’s good. I’m really in favor of these solar projects. I think it’s going to help as far as spending. I’m just curious what it’s going to do with [resident] light bills, though. Where is [Alliant Energy’s] money going to come from for upkeep? Residential people certainly don’t need a raise in their electric bills.

Looking at the city budget, is there a specific area where you’d like to see spending increased or decreased? Why?

One thing is making sure we get our ditch taken care of [to alleviate drainage and flooding issues in the Twin Bluffs neighborhoods along Pleasant Ridge Road when it rains heavily.] I think the county needs to help us a little bit. A lot of that water comes down from the county, from B45. I think we should do like McGregor did [with detention dams].

Otherwise, we should just keep investing in what we’re doing and try to live off what we have and not spend a lot of extra money. In the 1950s, when I first came to town, it was OK. But in the early 1970s, Marquette couldn’t even afford to pay our people who were working. I don’t ever want to see Marquette get back to those days. We should not spend our savings, because some day we’re going to need that money.

Although separate cities, Marquette and McGregor share functions like the police and fire departments and chamber of commerce, and are often viewed as a big community. Do you think the cities should work more together? What are some ways they could do so?

I don’t know what else they could possibly do together. It would be nice if we could plan more stuff together, but first we’ve got to get people out there to help us. For the fireworks, it would be nice if both communities worked together. That would help. I think both towns are doing a good job. 

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