Meet the Burt Township Candidates

Posted 10-16-2020
Several weeks ago the Chamber decided to organize and host a Meet the Candidates event. Due to many unfortunate obstacles, that didn’t happen. We then decided to give the questions that were submitted by GM citizens (not the Chamber) to all candidates running for office in  GM and have them submit written answers that we would then publish on both the Chamber website and Facebook. Sadly, and most disappointing, was the fact that out of the eight people running for office to represent us, only three of those people could be bothered to respond. The three people that did respond – Lou Lundquist and Linda Steinke (both running for Trustee) and Jack Hubbard (running for Supervisor) deserve a big Thank You for taking the time to answer. We would urge all voters to know the issues facing GM and know the candidates. Their answers are below.

QUESTIONS FOR ALL CANDIDATES:

1. What is your position on a city sewer system in Grand Marais? If you are in favor of moving forward with the system, how would you recommend funding it, where would you locate our treatment pools and what kind of timeline would you foresee?

Linda Steinke: I am aware of previous discussions regarding a city sewer system, and it seemed like a workable plan.  Question is: is this a want or need?  If our water system is being compromised, we really don’t have a choice.  Is it being compromised because of the turnover of people staying in town?  If as a township we restrict the number of rentals, would that take care of the problem with the water table and need for the sewer system?  Paying for a sewer system would come from grants (Rural Development, Federal and State), and also potentially a bond issue.  I’m aware it will create a monthly user fee, and that may be a concern for residents on a fixed income.  If the rental volume continues, and nitrogen levels in the water continue to rise, this could compromise people’s health.  What’s the price of that?

Jack Hubbard:  Moving forward with a sewer system would depend on what the citizens wanted to do. I have never done a project that wasn’t requested by the electors, at either the annual meetings or town hall meetings. The last time a sewer system was proposed by the electors we lost our window of opportunity with a 75% grant and low interest loan with RDA. After that the project was pretty much ready to go but we didn’t pursue it as the cost would have been too high for the users without a substantive grant. Treatment pools would be east of town 1/4 mile off H58 past the old dump. It would be nice to have a sewer system to protect our water aquifer from nitrate levels and someday we might be forced to do this, but it needs to be affordable to all involved. I would not be in favor of doing this in stages but rather all in one year. It would put too much of a cost burden on the users of stage one.

Lou Lundquist: The sewer system has been in discussion since I’ve been a trustee. The system may become a necessity which was the case in Seney. Rural development funds become available in cycles with village resident funding being the payees. Currently and fortunately it is not a pressing issue. We would look at this from a public health standpoint in future discussions.

2. Given the growth of Grand Marais how would you propose protecting the beauty and integrity of our bay and shoreline?

Linda Steinke: I’m in favor of protecting, in general.  Are you talking about natural causes or human causes, like people leaving trash behind?  I think the recent recreational survey from the Planning Commission has some great ideas, that might help protect our beautiful area.  I’m looking forward to the People’s voice.

Jack Hubbard: This must be done with proper zoning. After all the work that myself, previous board, Harbor Committee has done to save this harbor with the breakwall and marina projects, I feel we need to keep it as what it is. A place for all to enjoy. Marina space is a big issue. I know in the past private enterprise has shown interest in adding a private marina which I feel would be an asset if done right!

Lou Lundquist: Start with enforced zoning rules and regulations. The “growth” I see is recreational transitory tourist traffic.

3. Again, given the growth of Grand Marais, it is inevitable that a company such as a dollar store will eventually want to develop in Grand Marais. What is your position on this type of development, and if you are in favor of it, where would you recommend allowing this type of development?

Linda Steinke: No, I’m not in favor of a dollar store, McDonald’s, or any other similar businesses.  Personally, the lack of those conveniences is what drew us to this area in the first place!  I believe it is already restricted via the Township Charter so not allowed anyway.

Jack Hubbard: I believe according to our current zoning laws that a franchise store is not allowed. I am much more in favor of filling any need with already existing businesses. The other question I would have is “Who would the Dollar Store get to work at it”? We have a very limited work force in this community.

Lou Lundquist: (really?) Tourist growth and a Dollar General growth are very different critters. Keep the integrity and beauty of our village by keeping the chain stores out of GM.

4. Tourism is our industry in Grand Marais. What is your vision for the future and how would you work with the community in promoting and educating on behalf of tourism?

Linda Steinke: I believe the Burt Township board needs to work together with the Chamber of Commerce in Grand Marais.  The Chamber was developed to promote businesses in our town! I’m an active member (currently secretary).  I’ve enjoyed representing Grand Marais through the management and cleaning of two rentals in town for the last couple years.  This summer, in particular, was important to make sure those visiting felt especially welcome, amidst the uncertainty we’ve faced. I’m definitely for tourism, but the more tourists we have visiting, it does put more stress on the infrastructure.

Jack Hubbard: This town would not exist without tourism. I feel the Chamber of Commerce has done a very good job of promoting and educating and would love to see the township board work with the Chamber and businesses to be more united in their efforts

Lou Lundquist: Start with “nature in abundance” that was once our mantra …which I believe and hope is still the draw for most folks coming to GM and the belief of most of our residents. Do we need to educate local residents to tolerate our current “noise in abundance”? Is this our new normal? We need to work on this with perhaps more signage for all of our visitors, it’s not fair to them when they have no idea where they can and can’t travel, can or can’t park etc. We need to teach tolerance and respect on both sides

5. What do you foresee as the future of our Greenspace, and would you protect the integrity of that space?

Linda Steinke: I respect the thought, time and money spent to make the Greenspace into a multi-use community property.  I believe the integrity is protected by how it was deeded to the Township, and therefore I would respect that space.

Jack Hubbard: The Greenspace has deed requirements that place limits on what can be done on this donated property. I am not sure (without researching the deed) what we could legally do.

Lou Lundquist: Keep it green…in perpetuity as intended

6. Where do you stand on our current short-term rentals policy and procedures in Grand Marais and what do you envision in the future?

Linda Steinke: Not sure if the question is referring to the recent ordinance or not, but if so, I do basically agree with it, because the Township is responsible for public safety.  It’s important that people renting their homes to visitors have a minimum of safety standards to follow.  Registering with the Township is important so the Township knows a dwelling is being rented out.  We need to give the new ordinance time to get established and ultimately enforced. If the question was concerned about zoning, that’s another discussion.  If we enforce the zoning, it will restrict the number of rentals.  The results of that action would a) decrease traffic/tourism (and possibly eliminate the need for a sewer system); b) decrease property values and c) decrease revenue the Township collects.  Personally, I’d like to discuss this further with residents, preferably with a Townhall Meeting which hopefully we can start scheduling in the near future!

Jack Hubbard: I feel that short term rentals have without a doubt gotten out of control. For years according to the zoning laws, they were only allowed in certain areas and are now everywhere with no enforcement of our zoning laws for many years.

Lou Lundquist: Currently I am on the planning and zoning committee for Burt Twp. We have set regulations related to the vacation rental properties. The need to enforce these rules is important for our community as a whole moving forward.

7. 2020 has been a difficult year due to COVID issues, and the relationship between the Chamber and the Township Board has become somewhat strained. Given the small size of our town and the fact that we need to work together, what ideas might you have for improving that relationship?

Linda Steinke: If elected as a Trustee on the Township Board, I would also be representing the Chamber of Commerce, as a current active member, and would help bridge that gap of relationship mending.  A few weeks ago I decided my campaign slogan would be “Let’s Reason Together”, and that is my goal, as a Trustee.  I believe it is important to take some of the emotion out of the decision making, and use more common sense.  None of us have ever experienced a “pandemic”, and I respect the individual opinions of others.  But everyone needs to come to a reasonable assessment of a situation, taking the time to listen, not just hear.  Thoughtfully consider what you are hearing, rather than focus on what you are going to say next.

Jack Hubbard: Meeting together and discussing issues. I have never seen our current township supervisor attend a C of C meeting. The clerk did attend several of the meetings this summer, but we need to all sit down together and discuss things. Businesses have a lot vested in this community and try to work for the betterment of everyone. I realize that we are in an unprecedented time in our history, but the only answer is communication amongst all of us, whether you’re a board member, business owner or citizen of the community.

 I would like to thank the Chamber for giving me the opportunity to address a few of the concerns voiced by our community members. I am always available to discuss any issue with any person. If you have concerns, my door is always open or you can always give me a call. Do your research. I firmly believe that we can all pull together again and become a working community. I would like to have the opportunity to be the leader in that effort. I would appreciate your support and vote on November 3.

Lou Lundquist: There are transparency issues on both sides. The Township Board is an elected body. Our community expects us to represent them (as we should) on many issues. We take into account public opinions from our constituents, that is our job. It has been our job to keep our community safe and follow government orders

QUESTIONS FOR SPECIFIC CANDIDATES

8. Trustee Candidates: Name your top 3 qualifications that would make you an asset to the board.

Linda Steinke: I’ve always been on the side of “get busy and make it better”, rather than just complain about a problem and do nothing.  I also am one to compromise, because I care.  Mark and I have been married for 35+ years, so we both have learned to compromise! Township government is about “neighbor helping neighbor”, and I have a servant’s heart and strive to be a peacemaker.  I’m also attuned to details, and believe good communication is a fundamental part of getting along with people from all walks of life and enriching the world around us.  I have a Master’s degree from Michigan State University (GO GREEN), so I have the capability of understanding complex problems and solving them.

I am well aware that many have already voted, and perhaps this Q/A is coming too late for some of you.  But I still think it’s important to understand where each candidate stands with the topics brought to us via the Chamber’s efforts to provide a “meet ‘n greet”. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen in person, but I hope each of you reading this will come away with a better understanding of who I am, and what I stand for.  Thank you to everyone who provided questions, and to the Chamber and Grand Marais Pilot offering to share our answers.  I’d like to serve the people of Burt Township as a Trustee, and appreciate your vote on November 3rd!

Lou Lundquist:  Born and raised in GM. My grandparents owned Hotel. I left to go to college at NMU. I am a real estate agent and broker. Love to hunt and fish. Know the UP very well. I have integrity. I will listen to what you have to say; you may not like my opinion on things but I will always have one.

9. Current Supervisor: Could you tell us what kind of emergency plan the board has in place? (No response was submitted.)

10. Current board members: Name 3-5 duties that your position on the board is responsible for.

Lou Lundquist: 1. We assume responsibility for all public health and fiduciary aspects that affect our village. 2. Making certain that we stay compliant with current obligations via professional input. 3.Serve as a liaison for all public input.