Sandy Saunier
Sandy Saunier
MARINETTE - A Marinette alderperson with more than a quarter-century of city council service under her belt says she's decided not at ask for a recount of last week's election returns. 

Monday, Ward 1 Alderperson Sandy Saunier said she's accepted her 68-to-63-vote election defeat at the hands of her challenger, Ken Keller, and she will not request the city undertake a burdensome recount process in hopes of changing the outcome.

"I've already made up my mind that I'm not going to put the city through that expense to try and find five votes," said Saunier, a woman who has held her seat on the council since 1987.

"I just can only say that I'm sorry so few people got out and voted. We didn't have a very good turnout for our ward - but I know a lot of people don't like having to go to the (NWTC Job Center) to vote, when we used to have it at the Salvation Army," Saunier said.

She went on to explain that in spring elections - when there isn't a lot on the ballot to vote on - low turnouts, like the one Menekaunee (Ward 1) experienced last week, can and do occur.

Yet despite losing to Keller, Saunier said she harbors no animosity for the man who will assume her seat a week from today.

"I haven't called him yet," Saunier said, explaining that she actually talked to Keller on the day of the election - when he called her. 

"He thought I was going to win - he called me at 5 o'clock Tuesday night and said 'Congratulations.'"

Keller then called back a few hours later and informed Sandy that he had actually won the race by five votes, she said. "I told him people must have figured I was going to win and that it didn't matter if they voted."

So while Saunier will not be serving the people of Menekaunee and Marinette in a city government capacity for the next two years, she wants to assure everyone that she isn't going anywhere and will continue doing whatever she can, behind the scenes, to ensure that the projects she helped initiate come to fruition.

"I will honestly say I've enjoyed what I've done and my ward has been the most progressive ward in the 26 years that I was on the council. We've gotten a lot grants for different things for Menekaunee, for the factories down here, for Red Arrow - things just worked out that when you can get a grant, you grab it and use it," Saunier said.

She explained that while it was tough to get work done on the streets and sidewalks of Menekaunee, they're being addressed now, and every time one is torn up for reconstruction, new curb, gutter and other improvements are being put in place.

Saunier pointed out that the entire city of Marinette has a lot of good things going for it right now, whether it be local industrial expansion, municipal infrastructure improvements, river dredging projects - the list goes on and on, she said, adding that what's happening is truly earning Marinette some recognition as a city on the rise.

"I'm just so happy that things are falling into place and finally happening. We're going to put Marinette on the map and show that things really can happen here," she said.

As for her political future, Saunier said she hasn't ruled out running again in the future, and explained that growing up as the youngest girl in a family with 14 siblings has taught her the value of hard work and doing whatever has to be done to make ends meet.

Ultimately, for the 74-year-old, her future in politics ultimately depends on her health, she said.

"I'm not a quitter," said Saunier, noting that she's had some heart problems in the past but they've been taken care of and she is currently "going strong."

Saunier said she'll soon be making that congratulatory call to Keller, "and tell him I'll be on his butt to keep on what I was working for.

"I can crack the whip at him now," Saunier said with laugh.

In the meantime, she says she'll continue working with the Menekaunee Old Timers on projects like improving Heritage Park (formerly Whiskey Park) that include adding a waterfall - the group has raised almost enough for that already - and possibly adding music in the park and a gazebo, which will require additional fundraising.

Saunier said she is especially excited about the Menekaunee Harbor dredging project that will take place next year. It's been an ongoing project, but it's finally going to happen, she said, adding that in the end she could see the harbor being a place that could attract boaters that might otherwise go to Door County.

Saunier reminded that she isn't going anywhere, and she wants people to know that that they can always find her at her restaurant, The Marine House, or other places around town. After all, she say's that's what she'll miss the most in leaving city council - the people.

"I just enjoy being around people. I've enjoyed being on the council and met a lot of wonderful people, and I think it's made me a better person," said Saunier.