Elections set for Nov. 5
On Nov. 5, residents of Hamburg will go to the polls to decide contested elections for the positions of mayor and also three seats on the Hamburg City Council. See the story below for information about the candidates vying for those offices.
Kent Benefiel, city council
A third-generation businessman and lifelong resident of the community of Hamburg, Benefiel has served on the council for a period of 12 years.
Benefiel said he had considered stepping down from his position on the council, but that the flood fight being waged by the community of Hamburg has changed his mind.
Hamburg was inundated by flood waters in March of 2019 and Benefiel, in addition to serving as a member of the council, has taken on the extra responsibility of working with the city's flood recovery group.
He said that the reason he wants to continue on is directly tied to that work.
"I know that the only way it's going to get done is with the major and the city council that we currently have," he said. "That's why I am staying for one more term."
Outside of his work with the city government, Benefiel is the owner and operator of a multi-state company in Benefiel Truck Repair and Towing, which has offices in Iowa, Nebraska and Missouri. Kent said that his company works in other states and goes where the service is needed.
The company features a fleet of impressive trucks which Benefiel said is a credit to the work done by his employees over the years.
Earl Hendrickson, city council
This candidate for Hamburg City Council brings a wealth of leadership and experience to the table in his pursuit of elected office.
Hendrickson was raised in the community of Hamburg and graduated school there before serving in the United States military. He is a Marine veteran who served in Vietnam.
Hendrickson moved back to Hamburg after a career with the United States Department of Agriculture and farmed in the area for 10 years. He also has prior experience with elected office having served as a member of the Fremont County Board of Supervisors for eight years. He's also a past member of the Hamburg City Council, where he served for three years.
Hendrickson said he was asked to run by current Mayor Cathy Crain.
After the historic flooding of earlier this year, Hendrickson stepped in to help with the Hamburg recovery as it relates to economic development. He also currently serves as a member of the Fremont County Economic Development.
Hendrickson said his goal in office will be to build Hamburg up better than it was previous to the flood.
Michael Gregg, city council
An obligation to service has inspired Gregg to run for a position on the Hamburg City Council. Gregg, a graduate of Hamburg High School, said he feels like the younger generation of Hamburg residents should step up and learn positions of leadership rather than counting on others to lead the community and fix problems.
Large issues are facing the town of Hamburg as it relates to flood recovery. Those issues include building a new levee and securing housing and jobs to bring a brighter future to the community.
Gregg said he was born and raised in Hamburg before leaving town to live in Omaha for a period of five years. He returned to town, got married and had a family. Michael and wife Allison have two young children. Michael works at Manildra and Allison works at Marnie Simons school in Hamburg.
Kimberly Johnson, city council
The following is the submitted statement by Johnson.
Hi my name is Kim Johnson. I am currently running for one of the three open City Council spots available in Hamburg.
By running for one of these open positions, I am hoping to bring my own experiences to the table.
My husband Kevin Johnson and I currently own the Awesome Possum Flea Market in Hamburg. We have owned and operated this flea market for 5+ years. Prior to this business, I also owned another flea market in Uehling Nebraska for 12 years that had over 40 booth renters. I retained over 90% of my original booth vendors in the entire 12 years due to honesty, accountability, responsibility, being trustworthy and on time, every time with their checks. Excellent communication was key to the success.
While this is my very first time running for any elected position, I am not a stranger to hard work, great ideas, listening to others, and simply knowing how to start and finish things. I have also brought thousands of people to town with the annual outdoor Heads or Tails flea market event with unique marketing strategies. This takes a lot of coordination, a stick to budget plan and good vendor relationship skills. All of these attributes would blend very well in working with others being a member of City Council.
We were also affected by the flood this spring. We lost our home on south end of town, we purchased a home the day before the flood that we had hoped to turn into a rental that took in 8ft + in the basement, and our store took in a estimated 30,000+ gallons of water in basement. We know first hand what it's like to have our lives flipped upside down. We know what it's like to live in a flea market with your bed on the floor for 7 months, have to shower at Waubonsie park and to put your head in your hands and cry at times. And still get up for work the next day putting one foot in front of the other. We also know the satisfaction of digging yourself out of a hole that seemed so big , it didn't seem possible. High fiving the small things in life. I say we often because my husband and I work as a team. I like being part of a winning team that accomplishes goals set forth. I bring grit, determination and a proven success story to the round table.
Why me? Why not me? I am not running with anyone else who is also running. I'm not trying to make friends as I have plenty of them. I have no other agenda, but to add what I think is valuable life experience. I have proven myself on crunching numbers/no frivolous spending when it comes to owning 2 businesses successfully. I am resourceful, resilient and thrifty. My unique marketing skills both online and printed material can be a valuable asset in keeping residents up to date on future meetings and open communication.
Most importantly, just vote! It matters. See you at the polls November 5th! May the best woman win!
Thomas E. Howard, city council
The following is the submitted statement from Thomas E. Howard.
After graduating high school, Tom joined the United States Navy during the Vietnam Conflict. Tom did three tours of duty as a SeaBee attached to the 3rd Marine division. Upon completion of his military service; Tom went to school to finish his 4 year study as a sheet metal journeyman. Tom had worked in the sheet metal industry for 25 years in many capacities.
Tom has also owned and operated successful businesses including troubleshooting businesses for others. His range of expertise is organization and implantation of procedures.
Tom's vision for Hamburg is not to just endure but to succeed.
After Hamburg losing many businesses the last eight years and most recently homes due to flooding; it will take specialized attention and abilities to make up for the past eight years.
The citizens of Hamburg have a very important choice to make on Nov. 5. Look closely at the candidates their accomplishment and past performances.
Rod Wilson, city council
The following biographical profile was submitted by city council candidate Rod WIlson.
Born in Hamburg - Grape Community Hospital - 1961
Graduated Sidney High School - 1980
Married Peggy Moyer, Hamburg Free Methodist Church - 1980 - Celebrating our 39th Anniversary
Graduated Universal Technical Institute, Omaha - Automotive Mechanic - 1981
AAMCO Transmissions - 1981 - 1982 - Mechanic
United States Navy - 1982 - 2003 - Aviation Electronics Technician, Senior Chief ( E-8 ) - Retired
Baptist Towers of Jacksonville - 2003 - 2013 - Director of Operations - HUD Senior Housing Complex
Wilson Handyman Services - Owner - 2013 - present
Peg & I have four children - Nichole, Andrea, Jennifer & Andrew. They have given us eight grandchildren, ages 3 through 13. Many blessings there.
I am running for Hamburg City Council for two primary reasons:
1.Communication - I believe our current city government has not provided timely & accurate information to the citizens of Hamburg. That's not hard to fix, I just don't believe that will without a change in leadership.
2. Economic Development - Current leadership decisions for the last 12 years has resulted in a steady decline in economic activity, business growth & city development, as well as population.
There are many reasons but the fact remains that if there was ever a plan, it has failed to yield any fruit. Hamburg government needs to make this a primary focus for our future.
Cathy Crain, mayor
After serving three terms as Hamburg's Mayor, Cathy Crain will be on the ballot again on Tuesday, Nov. 5. Crain was elected 12 years ago after being asked to run for mayor. After her initial term, Crain was elected as a write in candidate for two elections. She had considered leaving the post, but decided to run for re-election due to the ongoing flood fight in Hamburg.
Some 220 days into the flood, Crain said she spends her time working on relationships with the state of Iowa, focusing on recovery and finding funds for Hamburg's recovery through grants. Crain said the city tries to find a grant each week which it can apply for to spark more recovery.
Crain said the city has gathered over 11 million but will likely need between 16-18 million in order to complete the recovery process. So the fight must go on.
"It would be detrimental to stop now," Crain said.
The Hamburg mayor is a Hamburg native. She grew up in Hamburg before moving and spending her adult life in Chicago. Upon retiring, Crain said she bought the family home in Hamburg and renovated.
The plan was to spend some time in Hamburg, but she said she missed the town and the people so much that when she got back to Hamburg, she couldn't bring herself to leave again.
Although this flood fight has been a devastating one, Crain said she is proud of what the community of Hamburg has accomplished since March.
"The individual property owners, look what they have done," she said.
Crain said the city has tried to do what it could to support the effort and accomplishments of the residents.
"We did our part and we are still doing our part," she said.
Harry Adams, mayor
The following is the candidate statement submitted by Harry Adams.
My name is Harry Adams. The position of Hamburg Mayor is the highest-calling of my life and an absolute honor to help the city I love. I believe I am fully qualified to provide the leadership, direction and necessary decisions to take Hamburg successfully into the future. I have extensive experience in managing difficult projects, while meeting deadlines and staying within prescribed budgets.
Additionally, I am fully knowledgeable of many of the methods and techniques used by the Army Corp of Engineers in river management. I have scientific experience in data modeling, simulation, and forecasting,also similar to those used by the Army Corps of Engineers. I believe this gives me a unique qualification.
I will share with you some of my education and management experience which also qualify me to be Mayor of Hamburg.