MARTELL Q&A: A chat with MU student and alderman Tyler Martell

As Marquette’s newest student government president, executive vice president and senators take office, one student will also settle in to a new role as an elected official — at the city level.

Tyler Martell, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences, was elected to the City Council of Manitowoc, Wis., on April 3. Martell, who is a Manitowoc native, won the election with 56 percent of the vote, getting 336 votes to former Alderman Gary Moore’s 265.

After unsuccessful campaigns for Manitowoc’s school board and the seat he won last Tuesday, Martell is happy to be one of the new faces on Manitowoc’s city council.

“Unless you count being my senior class president in high school, this is a completely new experience for me,” he said.

Martell said that while he hadn’t initially planned on pursuing the seat, he changed his mind after his alderman had decided not to run for re-election.

“I think for democracy to function properly, people deserve choices, and I felt it was my responsibility to give the people in my district an alternative,” he said.

As for how he plans on managing being a college student and living an hour and twenty minutes away from the district he represents, Martell said that he wants to approach his new job with the same dedication he does to school.

“I’m really excited about gaining a deeper understanding of how local government functions,” he said. Over break, Martell answered some of the Tribune’s questions.

Question and Answer with Tyler Martell

Q: What made this campaign successful?

A: Simple: The message of fiscal responsibility and the support from my family and friends. Local politics is all about working hard and reaching out to voters, and with the tremendous support from my family and friends, we were able to outwork my opponent. I owe this to them.

Q: How do you plan on managing being a college student with your new position?

A:  It’ll be a challenge, but I’m up for it. Between committee meetings, boards, commissions and common council meetings, I will have to be in Manitowoc roughly five evenings each month. There will also be a lot of reading to do, and I plan to treat it like another class. The third component of this job, and the one that I look most forward to, is constituent relations. I think being able to readily address the concerns of the people who elected you is vital to being a good elected official.

Q: How did your family and friends support you during your campaign for City Council?

A:My friends and family supported me a lot throughout the campaign. On two occasions I had friends come up to Manitowoc with me to help me go door to door and drop off campaign literature. My family also was extremely supportive. Being at Marquette, there were times when someone would call for a yard sign and my parents had to take care of it for me. My friends and family were extremely supportive, and I couldn’t have done it without them.

Q: How do you think your new co-workers will react to your age?

A: So far, everyone has been extremely welcoming and helpful. In trying to select which committees I would like to serve on, I discussed scheduling with a few of the other (aldermen). Everyone I’ve talked to is really supportive and excited to have me on the council. I think many of them have already gone through something like this. Believe it or not, I am not the youngest person to serve on the Manitowoc City Council. My mayor, who is 25 now, was elected when he was 22, and before that, he served on the city council since he was 18. I’m sure I’ll face criticism because of my age, but I’m prepared for it, and I can’t wait to prove them all wrong.

Q: What kinds of things do you want to do as a city councilman?

A:  I plan to be a voice of fiscal responsibility. Over the last few years, the city has increased taxes, cut spending and borrowed money. I think this is the wrong path to take. I’m not going to vote for a tax increase or for more borrowing, and before we simply cut spending, I believe there are ways to be more efficient so that we can keep a lot of the services we currently have for less money.

Q: How do you want to reach out to your constituents?

A:  I think outreach is one of the most important responsibilities of elected officials. I plan to be available to answer questions and address concerns over the phone and through email. I am also thinking about doing a little bit more, such as a survey of issues. This summer, I am also thinking about having a “meet your alderman” event at a local park so that the people that I didn’t have the chance to meet on the campaign trail have the opportunity to talk with me.