Dennis Colburn
Dennis Colburn
MARINETTE - One of two new faces elected to Marinette City Council, Ward 6 Alderman Dennis Colburn is adamant he didn't seek election to choose a side, or a camp on the currently divided council. That said, Colburn will tell you that he is adamant about getting things done - and he insists that the decisions he makes will be based on what he honestly believes is best for the City of Marinette.

At some point, those decisions may lead some people to believe he's taking sides. But at this point the public's uncertainty about Colburn's politics might be matched only by its uncertainty about the man himself.

Colburn stopped by the EagleHerald earlier this week and go on the record about who he is and what he stands for.

Colburn said he didn't decide to run for city council until former Ward 6 Alderman Vivian Haight announced she was not seeking re-election. Colburn then filed to run and was not opposed - which is part of the reason he didn't make a big deal out of his campaign. Another reason for his low-key approach - he didn't want to "cloud" what he considered an important and historical mayoral race.

"Both candidates (Denise Ruleau and Martha Karban) were just excellent choices, excellent choices," Colburn exclaimed. "And the city spoke, and decided that Denise was going to be the next mayor, and I think she'll do a fine job."

But what about the new kid on the block? 

Well, actually there are two new kids on the block, but one has lived in Ward 2 for more that a quarter century, taught and coached at UW-Marinette for more than 25 years running, and volunteered in the community in dozens of different capacities. Just about everyone knows Dorothy Kowalski.

Compared to his fellow freshmen alderperson, Colburn has nowhere near the same name recognition as Kowalski, a woman he says he's really looking forward to sitting down and talking with. A big reason for that, he says is they are both recreation proponents.

Colburn was born and raised in Munising, Mich. He later moved to Saginaw, Mich., following his parents, who both taught there. Then 14 years ago, he decided to move back up this way. He currently lives a couple of blocks from City Park and has a family including three kids in the Marinette School District. They love the area, he says, and he hopes the decisions he makes while serving on the council will help make it even better.

Perhaps not surprisingly, parks and recreation is a key issue for Colburn.

"Parks and recreation is big for me," he said, adding that recreational programming is big for kids during the school year as well as in the summertime, "whether it be at the Civic Center, or the various gyms, or the pool - all of those items are important. And it seems to be a bit of a hot topic in the city as to where we're going to go with this next and what's going to happen."

"Mayor Harbick pushed a lot of infrastructure in town - Walmart, Marinette Marine, etc. Those things are very equally important. I think our infrastructure is very, very, stable and I think now is the time that the city needs to concentrate on a few other issues, and this parks and recreation thing is hot," Colburn reiterated, adding "people need to understand we have a huge base for this."

Colburn said there was pretty much nothing but farm fields where he grew up. Conversely, "It's beautiful here," he said.

In addition to the natural beauty, Colburn said he likes the school system, the weather, and his neighborhood where he frequently takes walks and chats with his neighbors.

In addition to recreation, Colburn said he would also like to see some improvements made to a few city side streets, as well as to see some improvements made to some of the dilapidated houses in town.

"Something needs to be done. The city's not ugly, but it does not look attractive enough for the hundreds of workers coming here to stay here.

According to Colburn, when young families consider moving in they need to see good housing, good after-school and summer he argued.

And while Colburn can't shore up all of the city's weaknesses on his own, he insists he'll do his best to make decisions that will help make the city a better place for all residents.

"I've just got a go-ahead attitude, a get-it-done type of attitude, that's what I'm looking to give to city council," he said.