Mason’s tenure as Marquette mayor comes to a close

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Norma Mason’s six-year tenure as the mayor of Marquette came to a close at the end of December.

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

When the Marquette Council meets for its regular monthly meeting Jan. 19, for the first time in six years, someone new will call the meeting to order. December marked the end of Norma Mason’s tenure as the city’s mayor, with her passing the gavel on to David Schneider, who was elected in November.

Mason’s involvement with city government began nearly 20 years ago. Curious about an upcoming meeting, Mason ventured to city hall, where she learned Marquette was looking to fill an open seat on the council due to a resignation. Recently retired, she decided to give it a shot.

“That got me hooked,” she said with a smile.

Mason served 10 years on the council, then took a few years off before deciding to run for mayor. 

Getting the opportunity to learn even more about the community and city government was intriguing. Even for a small community, she said there are many things the city has to consider.

“The state regulations you have to follow are just amazing,” she said.

For example, the city has to follow and understand TIF (tax incremental financing) requirements and work with entities like the DNR and DOT when projects are in the works.

During her mayoral tenure, Mason said she enjoyed helping to affect positive changes around town and making Marquette an inviting place. Working with a good group of people helped, she noted.

“I was fortunate to have a city manager, city clerk and council who were progressive and made sound decisions for the betterment of all Marquette citizens,” she said.

There were several city accomplishments throughout her time as mayor that give Mason a sense of pride, most notably construction of the hotel complex that houses city hall, the community room and another public room on the fourth floor, in addition to the Cobblestone Inn and Suites hotel, which generates hotel/motel tax for the city. Work has also been done along the riverfront, including additional citizen parking, a fishing dock and shelter. The Driftless Area Wetlands Centre was developed with help from the MFL MarMac School District, grants and individual donations.

Other important accomplishments included additional parking around town, a storm water project to eliminate major spring floods on the bench and paving the Timber Ridge subdivision as well as developing a city park at the development. Beautification efforts encompassed painting fire hydrants, purchasing new Christmas decorations and adding pedestrian crosswalks. The city recently negotiated a new 25-year dock site agreement with the Isle of Capri/Lady Luck, which Mason said increases Marquette’s financial stability.

The overlook and boardwalk project, which began over five years ago, is nearly complete. Mason said she’s glad to finally see it come to fruition.

“In six years, to do all those projects and come out with more money than we started with is amazing,” she said. “I feel like I left the city in good shape, and that’s due to everyone. It’s awesome to have good ideas that are accepted.”

With a new mayor and two new council members taking over (Pam Brodie-Fitzgerald and Eleanor Soulli are replacing councilmen Jason Winter and Galen McShane), Mason said she hopes the city continues to move forward with its 10-year plan, which includes development of a trail system and low- to moderate- income (LMI) housing.

“I hope they understand the city spends money, but it also makes money,” she added, noting that hotel/motel tax funds supplement the city. The riverfront and other attractions bring in tourists, which help keep Marquette alive, she said. “I wish them well and hope they look to the future and move forward.”

Now that her time as mayor is over, Mason said she still hopes to stay involved, attending some council meetings or serving on a committee if needed. She encourages others to get involved, too, whether that means attending meetings, stopping by city hall with questions or volunteering on a committee.

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