Esky candidates focus on marijuana, development

Ilsa Minor | Daily Press Challenger for the Escanaba City Council Mark Ammel, left, faced off against incumbents Council Member Ralph Blasier and Mayor Marc Tall Tuesday durring the League of Women Voters’ candidate forum.

ESCANABA — Candidates seeking a seat on the Escanaba City Council talked about local issues ranging from marijuana sales to development during a voter forum Tuesday at Escanaba City Hall. The League of Women Voters of Delta County, partnering with the American Association of University Women, hosted the candidate forum. Escanaba City Council candidates Mark Ammel and incumbents Ralph Blasier and Marc Tall attended the forum. Candidates Ronald Beauchamp, Todd Flath and Michael Sattem did not attend.

The forum also featured a segment with candidates for the Gladstone City Commission earlier in the evening.

The candidates were asked how they felt about marijuana sales within the city. Currently, the city of Escanaba does not permit the sale of marijuana in the city. That issue will be looked at again before September 2022 when the city’s decision to ban sales expires.

Despite the ban, marijuana is sold in Escanaba at a store based on tribal land.

Blasier said he is in favor of extending the ban.

Tall said this was an issue that will be taken up again after the election, but he felt “the tribe is serving the need in the community.”

Ammell said that the issue needs to be looked at again, but that he doesn’t have enough information on the issue right now.

Candidates were also asked whether they favored cutting costs or increasing revenue.

Ammell said to do both “takes research.”

Blaiser said that the city’s revenue is determined by its taxable property.

Tall said the tax base needs to be increased to increase revenue, and that will happen with the development of the old jail site.

Both Blasier and Tall said the city has been in contact with possible developers for the old jail site. They have been asked to submit plans.

All three candidates said local charitable efforts — such as Hope at the Inn — are helping ease the problem of homelessness locally.

Candidates were also asked if they would consider rolling back water rates to finance the replacement of lead pipes if money was received from the state.

Blasier said the city has to get the lines replaced first. “We haven’t seen any money yet,” said Blaiser. “…We didn’t raise that rate for fun.”

Tall said the state required that the work be done and it had to be paid for.

The three candidates were asked about priorities for the future of Escanaba.

Ammell said his long range vision for the city is to have healthy schools and have the city embrace technology. He wants the city to be a leader, not a follower, in this area.

Blaiser focused on the old jail site, development, recycling and improvements to the water and wastewater systems.

Tall’s priority is to rebuild the city’s streets.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. during the Nov. 2 election.


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