ESCANABA – Candidates for the Escanaba City Council met last night for a League of Women Voters forum.
Escanaba City Council incumbents Leo Evans and Marc Tall said selling the power plant is the number issue facing Escanaba.
“Economically, it’s been a drain over the last five years. The city has lost money instead of making money. The potential for biomass is unreal,” Evans said.
“I am convinced that we will see that completed in the near future. Then the concurrent need now and into the future is jobs,” said Tall.
Challenger James Hellerman says jobs are the most important thing facing Escanaba.
While we see many new storefronts open unfortunately it’s not a career level job. I think we need to focus on bringing manufacturing and industrial jobs in to move goods out and bring new money into the community,” said Hellerman.
Robert LaFave says the city needs to attract new residents.
“My goal would be to see us be able to market the city as a place where people want to come and live,” LaFave said. “For some reason we have gotten off track. They didn’t want to develop the housing element and keep those families here so they started moving outside the city.”
Councilwoman Patricia Baribeau says retiring seniors mat be the answer for economic development.
I think if we make Escanaba an acceptable place to live and retire that we will see economic growth just from those numbers,”Baribeau said. “As we lose our young people I say let’s start attracting the old people back.”
Other questions at the forum included alcohol sales in Ludington Park, street improvements and downtown parking.
Ralph Blasier did not participate in the forum. He is unchallenged for a one year term. Tall currently holds the position that Blasier is running for. Tall was appointed to the council after the death of councilman Brady Nelson. Tall opted instead to file for one of the three seats up for election November 5.