Both NMU graduates running in the 2014 race for Marquette county commission see business as an integral component of the county’s future.
Justin Carlson, 25, running for District 2 and Jason Schneider, 36, running for District 3, not only have experience running small businesses, but want to make the county more favorable to local enterprise, despite falling on opposite sides of the spectrum.
Further, both candidates advise small businesses, Carlson in marketing and web design and Schneider in ensuring businesses will be equipped into the 21st century.
Carlson, who is running as a Republican, graduated from Northern with a degree in Entrepreneurship in 2012. He has been interested in running businesses since high school, when he started and operated a landscaping business for several years.
“I like the idea of the freedom,” Carlson said. “Working your own hours. The potential for creating your own business and opportunity.”
Involving himself in business inspired him to involve himself in business organizations, like heading NMU’s chapter of the Business Professionals of America for several years and being part of the Dean’s student advisory council for the school of business.
Seeing the integrated relationship between business and government inspired him to keep an eye on the political landscape.
“I started getting interested in politics in the middle part of college,” Carlson said. “I was involved with the College Libertarians a little bit and the College Republicans. That led to getting involved after college with local stuff.”
Inspired by Ron Paul’s presidential campaigns in 2008 and 2012, Carlson sees local government as opportunity to foster relationships between government and business.
“From what I can tell, a lot of the current commissioners and some of the ones who are running [have] been involved in local politics for quite some time and they kind of get trapped in a rut of doing the same thing, supporting the same ideas and strategies,” Carlson said. “I don’t think the current commission is as forward thinking for the future of Marquette County as it should be.
“There’s definitely a few changes that I and other people running for county commission think need to be made. We don’t feel that’s going to happen with the current leadership.”
Schneider, who graduated from NMU in 2001 with double majors in history and economics and a minor in photography, has owned a coffee shop and advises and facilitates small business start-ups (as well as help them start) with his current project Accelerate U.P. He is worried about old politics running the new world.
“My main concern is [that] the economy of the millennials is going to be so drastically different than the economy of their grandparents. I’m kind of that bridge,” Schneider said.
“I think about our economy and civic engagement differently than a 60 year old does. How do we move to Government 2.0? How do we get people to interact with their government and understand what’s [happening] on a digital level? Can high school students use their smartphones to engage in road closures and what’s going on? We need somebody who is thinking about a different future to be involved in the dialogue.”
As a candidate, Schneider sees the commission’s role in county politics as an avenue for change, not a source for mandates to the public.
“It’s a commissioner’s job to understand what’s out there and push in a certain direction,” Schneider said. “But really, the job falls on county administration, it falls on private business, it’s not for government to find a solution and force everybody into it. It’s for government to research all of the available options…and then give weight to the best one.”