UNLESS YOU’VE BEEN IGNORING the business of the city for the past few years, you’ve no doubt seen Margaret Brumm in action. She’s a constant presence at city commission meetings, as well as other gatherings which address local issues. And when attending meetings, she’s no wallflower. You’ll know she’s there.
Though I don’t know her very well personally, I too have seen and heard her at various events where topics of public concern have been on the agenda. To cite a specific cause or issue Margaret finds important would not do her areas of interest justice. From cigarette butts to renewable energy, Margaret has an opinion, and you’re going to know what it is.
A true Marquette girl, Margaret was born and raised here, attended city schools, and other than pursuing her advanced degrees elsewhere, has lived here most of her life. The Brumm name is familiar to locals, with the family long being involved in business around town as well as athletics, particularly hockey.
If you’re looking for some Marquette street cred, you can find it in the many nicknames the Brumm’s are known by… “Bobbo,” “Oakie,” “Ike,” and Margaret herself… “Mickey.”
Though Margaret’s been a part of the scene for a while, I felt now might be a good time to take a closer look at what she’s about, since she has announced her candidacy for the 109th District State Representative post currently held by former Marquette City Commissioner, Jenn Hill. She kicked off her campaign last week, as seen above, on the steps of the Peter White Public Library.
Assuming Hill runs, Margaret will be a Democratic challenger in the primary election slated for next August. So you’ve got plenty of time to study both candidates, and any others who decide to run, and judge for yourself who you want representing us in Lansing. And though Margaret often comes across as a little “too much,” a closer look finds a person with impressive credentials and a vast reservoir of knowledge on a wide range of issues.
I’ve seen her address the fluoride issue with an abundance of research based knowledge, and, as an appointed member of the Marquette Area Wastewater Treatment Advisory Board, she admits to knowing “WAY TOO MUCH about sewage treatment.”
These days she is working with Dr. Lesley Putman to assist in her research regarding phytoremediation of PFAS chemicals by use of HEMP plants, which goes along with being well-versed in state and federal marijuana laws.
She has a degree in Chemical Engineering from Michigan Tech, is a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School, and is currently an Adjunct Professor in the College of Business at NMU, teaching a class called Legal Environment of Business. She is also a registered US Patent Attorney and a member of the State Bar of Michigan. And she has a dog.
It’s important to recognize that even though she is never at a loss for words, and seldom ends her meeting comments before the hard time limit, she doesn’t just talk the talk. Like many of us, she was disgusted by the preponderance of cigarette butts discarded everywhere but the appropriate waste receptacles. Like few of us, she did something about it and founded the City of Marquette Cigarette Butt Recycle Program in connection with the Lake Superior Watershed Partnership.
During the early days of the COVID pandemic she set up a lending library and homework program at Jackson’s Pit in Negaunee, which ran concurrently with their program offering free lunches for school age children.
She readily admits to having “no BS” about her, which occasionally causes her to come off a little more strident than necessary. During one meeting, I saw her claim she wouldn’t “eviscerate” the person she was disagreeing with, and then go ahead and pretty much eviscerate that person. At that same meeting, supposedly in order to verify her intellect, she claimed that when she was in the 5th grade, she was the smartest kid in the United States. Apparently there’s proof of that somewhere, and I guess somebody had to be the smartest kid in the country, but it’s an odd declaration, nonetheless.
She’s definitely a “what you see is what you get” kind of person. And it’s possible not everyone likes what they see. Though she says she honestly doesn’t feel “superior” to anyone, she doesn’t always come across like that. Does she know what she’s talking about? I’m pretty sure she does. Unfortunately, her manner often distracts from the matter.
In the past, she has run for both the Marquette City Commission and the Marquette County Board. Both efforts were unsuccessful. She was elected to the Marquette Board of Light and Power in the last election, and just this week, she was elected as that board’s vice-chairperson and secretary.
And now she’s thrown her hat in the ring to be our 109th District State Representative. Margaret may have been planning this all along, but the recent legislation coming out of Lansing regarding renewable energy, and Representative Hill’s support of it, may have pushed her to affirm her decision. She was outwardly critical of Hill’s demeaner at last week’s meeting with township officials, going so far as to yell out in protest when Hill said, “I thought that people in the Upper Peninsula only cared about energy issues when it came to warm showers and cold beer.”
The comment may have been Hill’s attempt at levity, but it didn’t go over well with Margaret and a few others at the meeting. The primary is a long way off, so Hill will have plenty of time to win, and win back, supporters. Her performance at last week’s meeting will soon be old news, but the renewable energy legislation, and how it will impact Upper Peninsula communities, will continue to be a bi-partisan point of contention.
(I wrote about this issue previously in a post published on 11-17 and titled, “Renewable Energy on the FAST Track.”)
One of our Marquette civic leaders who has had the opportunity to work with Margaret on a number of issues has this to say about her… “She really cares about the quality of life in Marquette and she takes it upon herself to institute projects that are a benefit at the local level. She personally, at her own expense, has worked to pick up cigarette butts, clean our harbors, provide children books, provide dog training, encourage safety vest use and has served on numerous city boards. She is the type of person that gets things done without looking for accolades.”
I was told that comment shouldn’t be taken as an endorsement of her candidacy, but it’s probably a characterization shared by many. I would agree, she’s not looking for praise. And it doesn’t appear she’s going out of her way to try to make new friends. Maybe that’s just the kind of person we need representing us downstate, where collegiality can often sidetrack good intentions, and where the people of the Upper Peninsula end up as an afterthought.
Maybe you don’t think picking up cigarette butts and training dogs qualifies someone to be a state representative, and maybe Margaret’s style turns you off.. but when you look past her somewhat unconventional, occasionally ponderous, approach to issues of local interest, you find there’s more to Margaret Brumm than you may have thought.