by Dennis Dalman
The “new” St. Joseph City Council will have two recently elected members starting next year – a long-term incumbent and a newcomer.
Incumbent Bob Loso and newcomer Kelly Beniek won the election over four other candidates for the two seats on the council. Those contenders were incumbent Troy Goracke, Carmie Mick, Paul Orvis and Mike Osterman.
Kelly Beniek, retired, is a wife, mother of three children and grandmother of two.
“Not to lie, I must say I was a little shocked when I learned that I won,” Beniek said. “But shocked in a good way. I didn’t think I’d win because I’m not a political person. Just a people person.”
Beniek said her first order of business will be to become comfortable – getting to know fellow council members and the mayor. She has already scheduled a meeting with the mayor, so she can start learning more about what it takes to be a good council member.
She also plans to start learning more about the city issues the council deals with all year long. Then she intends to brush up on city policies, guidelines and the parliamentary procedure used at council meetings.
“I’m nervous,” she said, “but that’s OK. I’d be concerned if I wasn’t nervous.”
“It feels good to win again,” Loso said. “Especially since I didn’t campaign.”
Re-elected many times to the council, Loso, a retired instrumentation technician, has more than 35 years of experience with city-related service.
Loso said his number-one priority is to revisit the topic of a proposed community-center now that the state legislature has granted St. Joseph $4 million to build one. Loso is not in favor of a center. About five years ago, a community center plan had a price tag on it of $12 million, Loso said. Many people have no idea that the cost of a community center would be far more than just building one. Other costs, ongoing ones, would include staffing, maintenance, operational expenses and other related costs, he said.
“I want to see an accurate number,” he said. “I’m a numbers man. And I always say, ‘Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it.’”