Marquette went to the polls four weeks ago today and looking back on the results, the young people of the area can’t be happy.

We learned that the Democrats are really the old people party. Democrats swept the Marquette County Commission in every district, but more importantly, the oldest campaigning candidate won.

What was really interesting is that the older candidates won in different styles. In district 1, Johnny DePetro ousted incumbent Steve Pence in the primary then easily won in the general election. Bruce Heikkila didn’t face an opponent in district 3, but defeated former Marquette City Commissioner Jason Schneider in the primary.

In one of the more heated contests, Karen Alholm was tied with Dwight Brady going into the city of Marquette and pulled it out. She then defeated the younger Mark Curran in the general election.

The youngest person on the county commission now will be Joe Derosha in district 2. He is a passionate and polarizing candidate but was paired against 25-year-old Justin Carlson. It was one of the closer races in the county.

Remember when Democrats were the cool, young and hip party that elected Obama back in 2012?

In Marquette County though, the Dems prefer to run old, white and mostly male. That’s not what we typically expect from the Democratic Party, but let’s be honest, Marquette County Democrats really aren’t typical dems. Right John Kivela and Erik Booth?

Younger demographics should be skeptical of this commission. Heikkila went on an anti-tech industry rant during public comment at a SmartZone meeting of the Marquette City Commission. Derosha has some plan that he claims will bring $350 million and 150 construction based jobs to his district – the smallest by population but largest by square mileage. He hasn’t given any details on how he will pay for it. It will cost a lot of money for such a project when the money is needed elsewhere.

DePetro did a good job as the mayor of Marquette and Gerry Corkin is returning to the board as well, but it will be a handful to keep Derosha on task and to make up for the Road Commissions’ permanent apologist Heikkila and his ineffectiveness.


In the city commission election, three of the six candidates were disappointing – and two of them were elected.

Mike Conley finished second in the votes by doing nothing. He had a couple yard signs out and responded to the Mining Journal’s questionnaires, which can be found here and here since he hasn’t spoken much in public. He was the only city commission candidate that didn’t participate in the 40 Below debate before the primary.

Conley is a returning commissioner after previously serving on the board, term limited out and then return after the required period of time by the city charter. He did a serviceable job last time, so that isn’t a problem that he was elected.

But as more people move to Marquette and more students from NMU decide to stay in the area, he did nothing to reach out to the new face of the city.

It makes me hesitate his effectiveness compared to Mayor Mike Coyne or Commissioner Sara Cambensy who are known to be readily available for all members of the public.

The “get off my lawn” mentality by the old guard is still a factor for a lot of people in the area, both young and old. Conley’s lack of campaigning tells me he is going to do the same old song and dance from the past and not progress the city in any way.

The other candidate who really hurt the younger people was Adam Robarge. He is a businessman and a great environmentalist that has embodied that new wave of people that have made Marquette their home.

He originally was going to run for state senate then backed out and ran for city commission. Then he didn’t campaign.

This is terrible for Robarge because he is a good guy that could produce good results in our local government.

But essentially backing out of two races in the same election cycle is disastrous. He also tried to run in 2013 for city commission but had residency issues that prevented him from running.

It’s a bummer because voters won’t see Schneider or Marquette City Commissioner Sarah Reynolds as these young professionals that work hard to better the community. Instead, they’ll see Robarge’s inefficiency because it was the most recent election. There’s going to be more young people running in the future and they will have to escape stereotypes and be their own person.

Speaking of being their own person, do you know who Pete Frazier is?

Pete Frazier

Pete Frazier (Photo from Facebook)

This is him.

Not who you expected? Don’t worry, you aren’t the only one.

Listed as Peter White Frazier on the ballot, most people know him as Pete “RePete” Frazier, the son of former local politician Pete Frazier. The Fraziers are longtime players in the town and are ancestors of Peter White, who helped Marquette grow to the city we have today.

A lot of the people that voted for Conley because he did such a great job previously used the same logic to vote for Frazier not fully understanding the situation.

To be fair, there were plenty of people that voted for him knowing which Frazier was which. But he only had 543 votes over fourth-place Jesse Schramm. Between the voter confusion that thought he was his dad or that weren’t educated enough and voted for him on name recognition for “Peter White”, he didn’t get in based on his merits.

The political idealist in me is appalled by this.

Marquette Social Scene should have posted something beforehand to educate the public and drive out the vote which was at historic lows and I apologize for that.

Other candidates probably should have called him out more vigorously. But after Nick Smaby call out of his primary opponents in county district 6 for not putting the “Paid By” information on yards signs was viewed negatively by the public, nobody dared do it to the guy who had Marquette’s silver spoon since birth.

We as a city and a voter populace were too apathetic or too ignorant to do the proper research into voting as well.

His photo was in the Mining Journal with his responses. He showed up to the 40 Below forum which is available on YouTube for anyone to see. You can’t blame Frazier for that. That’s our fault.

There is only one person that can fix this mistake: RePete himself.

He’s a family man that cares about the area and has served on appointed committees in the city, so he has credentials. But if Frazier wants to lead, he must be his own man that views every citizen of Marquette equally. He has to step out of his family’s shadow and influence and be his own man. If he does this, there is no reason why Frazier can’t be a good commissioner.

The fact that there is hope to be found means that the city should not be afraid to confront our commission with real problems. If we can have faith in our local leaders, hopefully the apathy will fade away.

This is Marquette Social Scene’s first staff editorial in a new weekly series every Tuesday. We are looking for guest columnists for Thursdays. If you are interested or have a letter to the editor, please email

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