Candidate Profiles: Marquette Mayor

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Larry Breuer

Stephen J. Weipert

Marquette voters will have a choice between two mayoral candidates when they head to the polls Tuesday, Nov. 7, for this year’s city election. Incumbent Larry Breuer, who’s served since early 2016, will face challenger Stephen J. Weipert for a two-year term. Here, the two candidates share their thoughts on some of the issues important to Marquette residents.

 

Larry Breuer

Larry Breuer has two children, eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. He was born and raised in Grant County, Wis., and has been a Marquette resident for 25 years. He’s been employed at Cabela’s for the past 10 years. Prior to that, he had his own building, rehab and rental business in Marquette.

Why did you choose to run for mayor?

I chose to run for mayor again because I enjoy doing the job. There are problems, challenges and distractions daily, but being a part of the discussions and solutions gives you a sense of accomplishment. Also, as mayor, you get to meet many interesting people from all walks of life.

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

The city of Marquette does support economic development and business. A recent example is that the present council renewed the relationship with the McGregor-Marquette Chamber of Commerce and restored its monetary contribution, which was previously withdrawn.

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

This year, budget discussions will focus on the cost of the emergency evacuation route. The next major project to budget for will be the cost of making Marquette a railroad “quite zone.” Both projects will make Marquette a safer, better place to live and visit. It will also be better for our hotel/motel businesses.

Plans have been approved for an emergency evacuation route off the bench, and construction could begin yet this year. What are your thoughts on the route?

The emergency evacuation route has been discussed and tabled, on and off, for years. The increased rail traffic in Marquette has made this project a top priority, and it’s now going to happen. The safety of our residents is a priority.

The railroad is a hot topic in Marquette, with residents, business owners and visitors raising concerns about noise and trains blocking crossings for extended periods. What, if anything, would you like to see the city do to address these issues?

The city has been addressing railroad issues since early this year. We have had numerous meetings and discussions with representatives of the railroad concerning complaints of excessive horn noise and blocked crossings. The creation of a “quiet zone” downtown is an integral part of these discussions. Stay tuned.

Planning is currently underway for a proposed expansion of the Depot Museum. What are your thoughts on the project?

The expansion of the Depot Museum is not a new idea. It was proposed when the depot was moved to its present site about 20 years ago. The west end of the building was planned with a future expansion in mind. My thoughts on this are let’s move forward and begin to develop input, ideas and drawings.

Although separate cities, Marquette and McGregor share functions like the police department 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?

Marquette and McGregor could and should do more events/projects together whenever possible. Creating a small citizen committee to find such joint events/projects could work to be a big benefit for both cities.

Looking into the future, how do you envision Marquette?

I envision more growth in tourist-related businesses, as tourism keeps increasing each year. Housing and job opportunities should follow.

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Stephen J. Weipert

Stephen J. Weipert has lived with his wife in Marquette for 37 years, and they have two grown children. Over the years, he has served as a church council member (including as president), and been on the Mar-Mac school board and the city of Marquette’s zoning and dock commissions. Weipert has worked at Mississippi Valley Printers for the past 41 years.

Why did you choose to run for mayor?

I have attended all but one council meeting in the past 17 months and I feel we are lacking leadership from the top down. In the past two years, we have had two city managers, three city clerks, two part-time city clerks, numerous board members and an attorney of 20-some years. We need leadership and stability. 

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

The city needs to be more active in promoting the fact that they have an economic development package. Right now, it seems, if you don’t ask, you don’t receive.

The past mayor and council had a vision for a growing community, new hotel, community room, city hall and Wetlands Centre, all contributing to new revenue for the city of Marquette. Let’s keep this vision moving forward and not sit stagnant. 

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

I would like to study the budget more closely. After attending council meetings, I have many unanswered questions. Only once in the last 17 months has a council person questioned an expenditure. 

Plans have been approved for an emergency evacuation route off the bench, and construction could begin yet this year. What are your thoughts on the route? 

Two years ago, last election, this was a hot topic. Two years later, another election, and now it is important again. In 2015, the city received a quote for an exit route for $22,000. Now, the council is proposing a $400,000 exit route. We need to take a closer look at both proposals. After all, it is an emergency exit route! Do we really need a road that will take a swath 32 feet wide out of a hillside, causing more water run-off?

The railroad is a hot topic in Marquette, with residents, business owners and visitors raising complaints about noise and trains blocking crossings for extended periods. What, if anything, would you like to see the city do to address these issues? 

We need to sit down with the railroad to discuss our concerns and their needs. It is a complicated issue. Hopefully, with a new mayor and council, we will bring a new perspective. If the city had to come up with funds to improve crossing safety and horn blowing, wouldn’t it be nice to have the quarter of a million dollars unnecessarily spend on an exit route?

Planning is currently underway for a proposed expansion of the Depot Museum. What are your thoughts on the project? 

I am not opposed to an expansion, but, once again, let’s look at the cost. Any addition should be unique to the history of Marquette. With or without an expansion, I believe the museum needs to be promoted more with more activities, like the Wetlands Centre offers, to bring people into the community. 

Although separate cities, Marquette and McGregor share functions like the police department 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 think the sharing we do now, with police department, library and fire department are all beneficial. I would keep an open mind to other sharing options. The local schools share a superintendent, teachers and sports and have shown how this can work. It doesn’t have to be limited to McGregor. Let’s see what our options are. 

Looking into the future, how do you envision Marquette?

With Marquette being land-locked by our beautiful bluffs, business expansion is a challenge, thus making tourism that much more important. But the most important element of Marquette is its citizens, which we need to put first. This is why I am asking you to not only vote for me, but for the three new candidates for council, to put Marquette on the right path again.

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