Young power dominates city election results

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YOUTH VICTORIES—Andrew Lorinser (left), NMU student—junior, public relations major—wins the second seat to the Marquette City Commission Election held on Nov. 5 as Evan Bonsall, Marquette born and raised, leads the race with 2,440 votes and is one of the youngest elect candidates.

Denali Drake

After 20 weeks of campaigning, the Marquette City Commissioner race has ended with Evan Bonsall taking the lead with 2,440 votes and Andrew Lorinser winning the second seat by 20 votes over his opponent Sally Davis at 1,463. 

Fourth candidate Nina van den Ende received 1,238 votes. A total of 155 votes were accounted for unresolved write-in candidates and just under 3,600 ballots were cast, according to election officials. 

On the evening of Tuesday, Nov. 4, the campaigning concluded and both candidates walked away with historic wins. Lorinser, a current NMU student became the first Muslim elected for any type of office in the U.P. 

“We are seeing more inclusion and diversity in politics,” Lorinser said.  “It gave me the courage to be open about it, and be more accepting of my revert to Islam.” 

After reforming to Islam in 2018 at the beginning of his campaign, Lorinser said he decided that he would not promote his faith, as it pertains more to his personal ideology and less so to his governing practices. The campaign relied on a strong fundamental belief in the separation between religion and government, Lorinser said. 

“This will probably be the first time my constituents are hearing this,” Lorinser said. “Officially, I would be the first Muslim elected official in the entire U.P. My faith is important to me, but governing, we wanted to keep this separate. It is part of who I am, it doesn’t necessarily shape my policies.” 

Bonsall, a Harvard University graduate and Marquette local, became the youngest elected commissioner this year at 23 years old. Age was no concern in Bonsall’s mind, as he had experience in government work and had sat on several committees in Marquette beforehand while in high school. 

“Initially when I started running, there were a lot of people who were not quite sure about me,” Bonsall said. “Fortunately, most people I talked to seemed to think that my youth was an asset, not a liability.”

Each winner placed significance on their Marquette roots and how the community encouraged the grassroots campaigners.

“The most important thing I learned at Harvard was that I wanted to come home,” Bonsall said.

After completing a two-year campaign and a resulting win, Lorinser plans to continue and finish his NMU degree whilst serving as a city commissioner.

“I want to be in Marquette forever. It feels natural,” Lorinser said.

It was declared a celebration of democracy, as both commissioners advocated for significant change in the community, government accountability and bringing a fresh perspective to Marquette, Lorinser said.

“It was a community effort for community issues, so it felt pretty profound,” Lorinser said. 

Bonsall and Lorinser will now spend three years as city commissioners, as part of a seven-member legislative branch in the Marquette government. Their responsibilities vary as they work toward implementing feasible budgets, mandate policies and represent the ideas of the community. 

The open spaces on the commission are elected during the nonpartisan, city-wide elections in November. 

On the docket for the new officials is appointing a new mayor. Amongst other things, they intend to work on becoming integral members of the commission. The newly-elected commissioners are working together on forming an ad hoc commission for affordable housing, which will be their first action once they are sworn in at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 12 at Marquette City Hall Commission Chambers. 

“Housing costs are rising very rapidly in the city of Marquette, both for ownership housing and rental housing,” Bonsall said.“The city should start taking this much more seriously because it’s going to get out of control very rapidly if we don’t.” 

The young inductees hope to use their fresh perspectives to tap into the innovations and ideas of the 21st century, Lorinser said.

“People were very receptive,” Bonsall said. “I think there were a lot of people who voted for me because I am 23 years old, running for city commissioner and trying to make a change.”