by Dennis Dalman
Kelly Beniek, candidate for St. Joseph City Council, doesn’t define achievements in terms of trophies and paper certificates; instead, she considers her achievements as deeply personal gratifications involving herself, her children and her family.
She believes her roles as woman, wife, mother and grandmother give her the voice and insights to be a good council member. Beniek, who is retired, is married and the mother of three grown children and two grandchildren. She attended technical college for two years.
“Every decision made for a community comes from different points of view,” she said. “We need to be open to all points of view to make a good decision for all.”
Beniek is one of six candidates vying for two four-year terms on the council – the two seats now held by Troy Goracke and Bob Loso, who have both filed for re-election. The other candidates, including Beniek, are Carmie Mick, Paul Orvis and Mike Osterman. The winners will be determined in the Nov. 3 election.
The St. Joseph Newsleader asked the candidates about many issues. The following are Beniek’s reponses:
Striking a proper balance in a rapidly growing St. Joseph, she said.
“I believe we need to have the right ratio of population to growth of business,” Beniek said. “I would approach these challenges as a team . . . You will never make everyone happy, but we can all come to the table to have the right conversations and make the best choices for our community.”
St. Joseph is doing the best it can, she said.
“The virus crisis is new for everyone, and as information becomes available, we should work together to adjust accordingly for each situation for the health and safety of the city.”
“I would love to hear more from the community on their thoughts about adding amenities (to a center or elsewhere in the city),” Beniek said. “I would love to see more family-based involvement and to be able to get out and meet more neighbors in the community setting. I love events like the Art Crawl. Walking business to business and meeting the owners was very refreshing. It is interesting to see how they impact us and what we do to support them.”
Beniek said for 24 years she has experienced in the city the strengths of creativity, focus and flexibility. Transparency and community involvement are areas where St. Joseph could do better, she added.
“I believe there is a place and a voice for everyone to be more involved,” she said.
Safety and security are two of her top concerns, Beniek noted.
“I also care about the balance of residents along with businesses, One can’t prosper and have success without the other. We have to ensure St. Joseph can accommodate, protect and offer opportunities while keeping safety a priority for everyone.”
“If raising three independent children who contribute to their communities, families and neighbors is an accomplishment, then I have achieved a commendable accomplishment,” she said. “If running a household alongside my husband is an achievement, then the award is ours to hold, and if being able to assist my children with daycare for our grandchildren, then the honor is cherished for generations.”
Beniek, an “empty-nester” now, said she decided to run for city council to give back and be a voice for the community.
At first, 24 years ago, Beniek did not want to move to the small city of St. Joseph.
“However, my husband did (want to move here),” she added. “So I gave him a chance and rented a small home on Minnesota Street. This wonderful little town accepted us with such a warming hug that I really couldn’t see us leaving. So we stayed and have loved it here ever since. I have seen a lot of change and would like to be part of the city’s growth into the future without losing that ‘warm hug.’ I guess we will see what the votes tell us. See you at the polls!”