Veteran commissioner learned persistence pays

Mike Koskinen is running for Baraga County Board commissioner for a 20th term, so he’s pretty much seen it all.

The 71-year-old Democrat is the only candidate on the ballot for District 2 of Baraga County. He doesn’t plan to change what he’s doing.

“People pretty much know who I am,” he said.

Since he started working on the board, he’s seen the administration building moved, the jail built, the hospital built and the internet become a part of government operation.

“It’s definitely an improvement as far as communications,” Koskinen said.

Koskinen remembers it taking the county clerk weeks to tally and register votes for county elections.

“Now it takes the clerk 20 minutes,” he said.

More than three decades ago, Koskinen said he went with a group to Lansing to apply for some funding to buy Pointe Abbaye.

After giving a presentation to the committee and asking for $90,000, half of the needed amount, the group sat outside in the hall.

When the committee took a break for lunch, they asked what the group was doing in the hall. They said they were waiting for the committee’s decision.

Later that day, the committee called them back into the room.

“They said, ‘Just because you guys had enough gumption and enough grit to sit in that hallway all day, we’re not going to give you $90,000.

“We’re going to give you $180,000,” Koskinen said.

Koskinen has been married to his wife Blanche for 52 years. They have two sons and a daughter together, six grandchildren and one great-grandson.

He is “semi-retired” from MK and Sons painting and enjoys hunting and fishing in his leisure time.