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      Fifty mayors keeping the Great Lakes great

      Mayors from 50 American and Canadian cities are in Marquette this week, along with representatives from several environmental organizations. They're members of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative and are meeting to solve problems around the Great Lakes.

      This is the tenth annual Cities Initiative Conference. Former Mayor Richard M. Daley of Chicago, the founding member, is the keynote speaker. He praises city mayors over larger political positions.

      "Mayors cut all the political parties out if it. We look at the issue and how can we work together," said Mayor Daley.

      Mayors from around the Great Lakes packed t he Marquette Regional History Center. They spent the day breaking up into panel discussions, covering topics like tourism, climate change, and the success of the Pure Michigan campaign.

      Marquette Mayor John DePetro says the conference is an invaluable networking experience.

      "Everybody is very friendly and they all have the same mission, and that is to keep the Great Lakes clean and to preserve the shoreline through the whole Great Lakes area," said Mayor DePetro.

      The Cities Initiative continues to grow as more mayors sign on. The roster includes 103 mayors total. One new member this year is Mayor Richard Harvey of Nipigon, Ontario near Thunder Bay. He had the longest travel time out of all the mayors. He sailed for 36 hours south on Lake Superior, traveling through cold temperatures and freezing fog, but he says it was worth it and that he's benefiting greatly from networking in and outside the conference.

      "Side-note conversations, those are the ones that we really benefit from, make connections and then can follow up to look at how we can improve the environment and improve our economy," said Mayor Harvey.

      Mayor Daley says that it's the mayors that are the leaders in improving the economy and environment of the Great Lakes.

      "The power has been the mayors in Canada and the United States that are passionate and committed about the Great Lakes," Mayor Daley said.

      The conference wraps up Friday with an informational tour around the Marquette area. Next year's conference will take place in Thunder Bay, Ontario.