MARQUETTE, Mich. (WZMQ) — Marquette City Commissioner Evan Bonsall has submitted his letter of resignation from the commission, according to his Facebook Page.
In the post, Bonsall stated that he was reluctant to submit his resignation, but he was grateful to the community. In the post, Bonsall says:
It is with great reluctance that I announce my resignation from the Marquette City Commission, effective next Tuesday, Jan. 10. Below, please find the letter of resignation that I submitted to the City Clerk and my fellow City Commissioners. Next Monday, Jan. 9 will be my final City Commission meeting. The past 4 years have been an incredible journey, and I am deeply grateful to everyone in this community who made that journey possible. I love Marquette, and I hope to be back someday.
Bonsall cites multiple reasons as to why he is leaving the position in his resignation letter, including being away from his wife who is currently a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, housing affordability in Marquette, and difficulties finding a full-time teaching position in the area.
He said that he accepted a teaching position in the Madison area, and will begin there later this month.
Read the entire letter below:
Dear City Clerk and Fellow City Commissioners,
Please accept my resignation from the Marquette City Commission effective 12:00 PM EST on Tuesday, January 10, 2023, which I am filing with the City Clerk per Section 6.4 of the City Charter. Serving on the Marquette City Commission has been one of the greatest privileges of my life, and I do not surrender that privilege lightly. However, I feel compelled to do so for personal reasons.
As you may know, I recently graduated with my Master of Arts in Education from Northern Michigan University, and completed a student teaching internship at Marquette Senior High School. As a social studies teacher, I am excited to have my own classroom and play a small role in educating the next generation of citizens and leaders. I love Marquette, and I badly wanted to stay here and continue serving on this Commission. I was optimistic that, in the midst of a nationwide teacher shortage, I would be able to find a permanent social studies teaching job somewhere in the greater Marquette-Alger area. However, after several months of active searching, I have been unable to find any such opportunities.
My wife is also a doctoral student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and lives and works in the Madison area. We both love Marquette and would absolutely stay in this community if we could. But especially given the lack of job prospects in the Marquette area, I can no longer justify the hardships that living in separate states for most of the year has imposed on us and our families. As a result, I recently accepted a social studies teaching position at a high school in the Madison area, and will begin teaching U.S. history and political science there later this month. I hope that my colleagues and my constituents, most of whom have families of their own and many of whom have also struggled to remain in Marquette, can understand why I have no choice but to put my family first.
I want to thank the thousands of Marquette voters who vested their confidence in the 22-year-old recent college graduate who knocked on their door 3-4 years ago, even if, before giving me their votes, more than a few of them asked me if I was old enough to vote- it seemed like a fair question. I am also deeply grateful to the hundreds of constituents who have reached out to me with ideas, questions, and concerns over the past three years, the dozens of volunteers who took valuable time out of their lives to knock doors for my City Commission campaigns in 2019 and 2022, especially my parents, who will always be tied for Number One in my heart and in the door knocking record books; and my wife, my family, and my friends, who have always offered their support, advice, and sympathetic ears whenever I have felt overwhelmed by the more stressful and frustrating parts of this job. I also want to thank the many people who donated to my City Commission campaigns- I want them to know that I will be donating my remaining campaign funds to the MAPS Education Foundation to benefit Marquette students and teachers. I could never have done this without all of these incredible people, and I am forever grateful for their support.
After I graduated from college four years ago, I was determined to return home to Marquette. Initially, I was not sure whether this would be possible, but I was very fortunate to get a job working as a Lead For America Fellow and community planner for the Marquette County government. After several months of searching. I was equally lucky to find an apartment that I could afford in Marquette, I also had a strong network of support from family and friends who lived in the area. In many ways, the stars aligned to allow me to come back to my hometown after college-an opportunity that Marquette residents in my generation rarely enjoy.
When I was elected to the City Commission in 2019, I promised to work with City staff, local residents, housing experts, and my fellow City Commissioners to ensure that the City was doing everything within its power to address the housing affordability crisis afflicting our city. We have finally begun to take concrete action, approving housing projects that will create hundreds of new housing units, including much-needed affordable housing and senior housing, and passed zoning reforms that will make it easier to build multi-family housing and Accessory Dwelling Units in all residential neighborhoods in the City, We also took the important step of designating a City-owned property at 600 W Spring Street specifically for affordable housing development. My hope is that the City can replicate this successful strategy in the near future.
However, it is clear to anyone who is paying attention that we have not yet done enough. Housing prices have continued to rise out of control for both owner-occupied and rental housing, while even relatively affluent families often struggle to find housing that meets their needs. This is already harming our local economy and fraying the social fabric of this community. This issue is not unique to Marquette, and the City government cannot solve this problem on its own, but we do have many powerful tools at our disposal that could provide affordable homes for hundreds of Marquette households if implemented quickly and effectively. The solutions to Marquette’s housing crisis will often be unpopular- they will require courage, creativity, and collaboration to implement, and they will make some people mad. But our job as City Commissioners is to represent all City residents and provide them with a livable community. Ensuring that City residents have access to affordable housing is absolutely part of that job.
As both a candidate for local office and a City Commissioner, I have spent the past four years advocating not only for affordable housing, but also for conservation, child care, and maintaining and improving City services, parks, and infrastructure. I have consistently voted to protect our natural environment, and joined dozens of our constituents in asking the County Board to allocate additional ARPA funds for affordable child care, which they did. I was proud to serve on this Commission as we worked hand-in- hand with City staff and residents to eliminate the City’s structural budget deficit and set the City on a sustainable fiscal path without major cuts to City services.
Most importantly, when I was elected to the City Commission, I promised to be the most transparent City Commissioner possible, and I believe that I have kept that promise. Responding to every email, message, and phone call, regularly answering constituents’ questions in real time on Facebook Live, writing a series of informative blog posts on housing and other local issues, and posting detailed public explanations of all of my votes helped make me a better Commissioner and helped solve problems both. big and small in our city. I also sincerely hope that this transparent approach has helped educate the public about City government and the issues facing our community, encouraged some residents to get involved in local government for the first time, and helped rebuild public trust in the City government.
So it is with deep reluctance that I ask you to accept my resignation from the City Commission. I have made lifelong friends in this position, and I hope that I have helped move the needle in the right direction for our community. I wish my fellow Commissioners and the people of Marquette success and wisdom in the coming years, because if there is one thing I am certain of, it is this: the decisions made in this room in the next few years will determine whether Marquette remains a livable community, or not. Aubrie and I deeply love Marquette and we hope to come back someday, but no matter where life takes us, we will forever cherish the happy years we spent here, and Marquette will always be our hometown.
Marquette City Commissioner