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ELECTION 2016: Barnum City Council candidates

Voters in Barnum will choose two city councilors for Barnum out of three candidates on Nov. 8. The Pine Journal asked council candidates the three following questions. Their answers are numbered to go with the question below each candidate's name. (Answers were limited to a certain word count, and edited by the Pine Journal if they were too long.)

1. How does your past experience, job or education qualify you to serve as a city councilor?

2. Why are you running?

3.  In your opinion, what are the top two issues facing the city right now and how should they be addressed?

Here's what they said:

Darrel Berry

1. I am on the Barnum City Council already. I have held this position for four years. In my current job I also manage employees, budgets, problem solve and have to remain fiscally responsible. During my time as a city councilor, I have become aware of the needs of the community and have worked toward solving issues and concerns brought forth by the residents of Barnum.


2. I believe the residents of Barnum need someone who understands the community and its needs. Moving here over 25 years ago I have grown to love this community and I can't imagine living anywhere else. I think it’s one of the best communities in the state of Minnesota and I am proud to call this my home. I want to help this community grow as it has given so much to me and my family over the years. I believe my experience with my current job as well as being part of the city council the past four years will be a great benefit to the community.


3. The city of Barnum has always done its best to keep up with its infrastructure but a lot of the sewer and water lines within the city are aging. This is no small expense and is going to take some planning now to be able to address these issues in the near future.  Solving this problem needs to start now. Putting a solid plan in place is the only way to ensure that the funds will be available to address this in the future.  

The Barnum Community Center and Municipal Liquor Store are aging buildings and are becoming more expensive to maintain each year. This has been a topic for the city council for years. We need to put a plan in place to either replace or update these buildings before it becomes too late to address. This will take a creative plan that will take a team to address. I don't have the answer to solve this issue but, working as a team with the city of Barnum, I believe we can come up with a solution while remaining fiscally responsible.

Pat Oman

1. I am a former Barnum city councilor; currently employed as a county administrator, managing a budget of $33 million, supervising nine departments and 250 employees; former city administrator of Moose Lake successful with administrating 2012 flood projects, improving bond rating, developing two annual budgets with zero-percent levy increase, bringing municipal liquor store to profitability, relocating six major retail businesses to the City; former Carlton County Economic Development director successful in creating $30 million in wealth for the county; and eight years work experience in the private sector as a corporate manager. I have graduate degrees in manufacturing systems (MS) and business administration (MBA).


2.   The interest in running for the office of city councilor with the city of Barnum is to promote public service accountability to the taxpayers of the city of Barnum by developing policies that will lower the cost of government, redevelop the downtown, and focus on developing wealth creation initiatives that will allow the city of Barnum to make investments on facilities and infrastructure.


1. At one time there were 25 businesses in downtown Barnum, currently there are five. The 2012 flood resulted in the demolishing of commercial and residential properties and the deterioration of existing private-sector buildings. There is a large open area of publicly owned property in the downtown generating zero tax revenue. The city needs to develop a five-year Downtown Revitalization Plan that would identify dilapidated buildings to redevelop, leverage grants that provide forgivable loans and promote TIF to encourage entrepreneurs and developers. This will result in new property tax revenue, business expansion and employment opportunities.

2. The municipal liquor store’s sole purpose is to be a wealth creator for the city of Barnum, so revenues produced can lower property taxes of residential homeowners and commercial businesses. The inability to generate revenues and ongoing cost in facility maintenance for a deteriorating building have resulted in a low return. It is critically important to evaluate the long-term benefit of a municipal liquor store to meet city budget expectations. Alternative opportunities include privatizing liquor operations, resulting in lower cost and generates property tax revenue; reviewing alternatives such as a municipal grocery store that may financially complement the existing liquor operation, and provide products the local community needs.

Dale Riihilouma

1.  I have 24 years of experience in Public Works and have worked under several city councils in the past. It has been very helpful being on the city council here in Barnum and being able to work with staff on numerous projects and future planning for our city.


2. I am running to continue to improve our city. We have moved forward with several projects, including the following items. We have just completed a long-range park plan for all three parks in the city. We just completed a major street improvement project along with the county. We are currently finalizing a Safe Routes to School project which will connect our sidewalk system between the elementary school and the high school, which will be done the summer of 2017. I would like to continue working for the citizens of Barnum and be able to continue moving our city forward in the future.


3. One of the issues facing the city is revitalizing the downtown. We demolished the old Lampert Yards building and will be looking for a prospective buyer for the property. The second issue we have struggled with is our municipal liquor store. We would like to turn the business around to the point of building a new store in the future. We have hired a new manager who is doing a great job and is working very hard with the city council to turn things around.