ST. JOSEPH -- Six candidates, including two incumbents, are competing for two seats on the St. Joseph City Council this November.

Incumbent and lifelong St. Joseph resident Bob Loso has spent more than 30 years in city government. Now retired, Loso says his goals are to encourage sensible economic growth and to use his extensive experience in city government to guide the council's newer members.

“We have a young council," Loso said. "I’ve been around a lot. I know a lot, and I’m trying to steer this young council to make decisions based upon what the total community wants and what they’re used to, so that we don’t lose our uniqueness. I believe in progressive growth, but natural growth.”

Troy Goracke is finishing his first four-year term on the city council after three years on St. Joseph's Park Board. Goracke is a service repair technician for Minnesota Computer Systems Inc. and has lived in St. Joseph for about 15 years. Goracke says a few of his key concerns are the city’s assessment policy and making improvements to St. Joseph’s city parks. Goracke says he enjoys the complexities of serving on the city council.

“The first two years were pretty tough,” Goracke admits. “I had a lot to learn. The second couple of years, I really started to catch on and started to know what really needed to be done and what was important. And I just think that, with my four years behind me, I feel like if I have another four years, I could really accomplish some things.”

New candidate Paul Orvis has lived in St. Joseph for 16 years and is a deputy with the Stearns County Sheriff's Office. Orvis says a few of his key priorities include developing affordable, crime-free, multi-family housing and helping St. Joe improve in terms of public safety.

"Just having worked with the sheriff’s office, I’ve written and executed warrants in St. Joe,” he explained. “I’d love to help get some of those problem renters out of there. Also, I’d like to help get the city into the top 10 safest communities in the state to live in.”

Kelly Beniek is another new candidate for the council. Beniek, a retired wife, mother and grandmother, has lived in St. Joseph for about 25 years. She sees serving on the city council as a way to support her chosen city and encourage residents to be engaged in community decision-making.

“I want to give back to the community,” she said. “I want to listen, and I want to hear from everybody. I don’t want to push back against things just because. I know we’re not going to make everybody happy, but I want to get people to voice what they really feel.”

Candidate Carmie Mick has lived in St. Joseph for nearly two decades and is the co-owner of CWMF, an asphalt plant equipment manufacturer in Waite Park. Mick is interested in using her experience running the day-to-day operations of a business to help the community grow and develop in economically responsible ways.

“I like talking about growth and looking at a budget, and talking about the best use of fund,” Mick said. “I really like working with numbers. But, on the other side, part of being a business owner is working with people. Everyone has their own point of view, and you’re never going to make everyone happy, but decisions need to be made for the greater good.”

Candidate Mike Osterman has lived in St. Joseph for about two years. Osterman, who works in operations at the St. Cloud VA, says his key priority is making sure St. Joseph remains fiscally conservative and maintains a balanced budget. Osterman says his campaign has given him a chance to hear from residents, many of whom have expressed their desire for city government to be more communicative and transparent.

“They want to see and hear from their council members,” Osterman said. “They want to get responses, and I’ve heard many complaints on that. They’re not getting responses on how their money is being appropriated, and they’d like to know proactively where that money is going.”

St. Joseph residents can vote for up to two candidates. The two individuals elected will begin their four-year terms in January.

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