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Candidates Share Their Goals For Emmetsburg

By Staff | Oct 29, 2009

Residents of Emmetsburg will elect three people to serve on Emmetsburg City Council next Tuesday, Nov. 3. Pam Smith, incumbent council representative from Ward Three, is being challenged by Brian Malm. Steve Finer, incumbent council representative from Ward One, is being challenged by Ted Ellis. Brian Campbell, incumbent council representative at-large, is running unopposed.

Each of the candidates for council was asked to state why they are running for a position on Emmetburg City Council. They were also asked to identify three goals they will work toward as a council representative for the City of Emmetsburg, the explain how they plan to achieve these goals.

The General Election is Tuesday, Nov. 3.


Pam Smith, 2007 Palmer Street, Emmetsburg

Candidate for Ward Three

Occupation: State District Veterinarian, Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship

Personal Background: My family moved to Emmetsburg 13 years ago, when I left veterinary practice in Sioux Center to take over as the district veterinarian for NW Iowa with the Iowa Dept. of Agriculture. We could have chosen any town in a four-county area, and we selected Emmetsburg because of its natural beauty and friendly home-town feel. My two children have grown up in Emmetsburg; my son is currently a senior at EHS, and my daughter is a junior at UNI. In addition to school activities, I have also been involved in community theater, I have been a 4-H leader, I have regularly participated in career day and farm safety day events, and I have been an active participant in the Storm Meetings. I continue to serve on the Storm committee, and I co-authored a successful grant application for $30,000 for Safe Routes to School, which aims to encourage children to walk and bike to school and make our streets safer for pedestrians and bicyclists.

1.) Why are you running?

During the past four years that I have served on the Emmetsburg City Council we have begun many ambitious and exciting projects. We have also made progress in developing a long-term plan for the community which is in line with the vision that came out of the community Storm meetings. Additionally we have some serious infrastructure issues which must be addressed. I would like to continue to serve in order to help assure the success of these efforts. During the past four years I have proven that I am not afraid to take a stand and question the status quo. While I always strive to work together and build consensus, I am prepared to make tough decisions and do the work needed in order to reach our potential.

2.) Three goals, and how will they be achieved?

1.) Quality of Life – Providing opportunities for all of our citizens to enjoy our town and be able to participate in an active lifestyle. We had a wonderful success with the community garden this year. Currently we have a survey underway to evaluate the community’s desires with regard to the development of a community center or recreational facility at the property formerly known as the Country Club. At the same time a group is working to establish the Five Island Trail. Recreational activities for children and teens are essential in a healthy, thriving community. Additionally our seniors, who make up a large part of our community and our economy, should have ample opportunities for social and recreational activities. I will promote and support these projects which improve quality of life and help to retain and attract people and their businesses, which ultimately benefits everyone.

2.) Infrastructure / Streets – While the above-mentioned projects are very exciting, it has come to my attention during my past few years on the council that we are failing to meet our obligation to keep our house in order. We may have a beautiful Industrial Park, a popular Casino, and maybe before too long a fancy new lake-side community center, but on your way to those destinations you may need to drive around some potholes. This is simply not acceptable, and I believe that we must address this issue with a twenty year plan to get all of our city streets paved and in good working order. This will call for some tough belt-tightening, as we need to be particularly cautious in the face of the current recession to avoid taking on excessive debt. Balancing the spending on quality of life projects and basic infrastructure needs will take some thoughtful effort–we must above all be fiscally responsible with tax-payer money.

3.) Encourage Community Involvement – Remember the Storm meetings, and “Getting our arrows pointed in the same direction”? This is certainly important–having a shared vision of Emmetsburg’s future helps us to work together to achieve it. On the other hand, sometimes disagreement can be a good thing–especially if it means you get involved! While there is never room for personal attacks or angry outbursts, there is certainly plenty of room for questions and thoughtful disagreement. People who take a stand on an issue are future committee leaders and grant writers, and Emmetsburg needs you! There are so many opportunities and funds out there that could be available to our community, we just need more people to step forward and take charge. I would not be on the council today were it not for such a disagreement. After reading in the paper about a council decision I ran into a city employee, and after questioning him about the decision he stated “If you don’t like it you should run for City Council”. I will continue to welcome public participation and encourage those of you who do not feel like insiders to step forward, because we are all Emmetsburg!


My name is Brian Malm. I live in Ward III at 1108 Palmer, with my wife Amy and our four children, Haily, Hannah, Heidi, and Matthew. I am employed by Star Energy, running a propane route from the Emmetsburg location.

Why am I running?

I believe government works best when people participate in the process. I would like to give the people of Ward III a choice and a voice in representation.


Promote the city of Emmetsburg as a destination for visitors and businesses looking to relocate.

I would like to help Emmetsburg maximize its economic opportunities by using all available resources. We have the amenities in our community that can be utilized to attract people from all over Northwest Iowa and beyond. Five Island Lake, public hunting areas, the golf course, and the Wild Rose Casino to name a few. People use disposable income on recreation, so why not here.

I would look to partner with Palo Alto County Development and other economic growth oriented groups in our community and region to find new opportunities to attract these very people.

Represent not only our ward but speak on behalf of all young families in Emmetsburg with children and the issues they face today.

As a lifelong resident of Emmetsburg, I have been involved with many community activities. As a parent, I am able to see our children take part in the many community events. While involved as a parent I plan to be accessible to others like myself who have concerns or would like their opinions heard. After all, we are here to make things better for our children and the betterment of Emmetsburg.

Improvement of our city infrastructure. I would strive to be a wise steward of our city’s tax money and public resources.

Determine the best possible plan to bring our city’s roads and facilities up to the level needed to attract growth and expansion.

Devise a short term plan and a long term plan that would keep Emmetsburg on track to be where we want to be.


Brian, Janis and Kim Campbell moved to Emmetsburg over 38 years ago. During that time we have raised a daughter, Kim, who is also raising a third generation, BriAna and Phoenix. We have invested a lot of energy and effort in making Emmetsburg our home. We currently live at 301 Harrison where we have resided for 32 years.

I retired in 2004 as an Associate Professor in the Automotive Technology Program of Iowa Lakes Community College. Later that year I returned to Iowa Lakes as Secondary Programs Coordinator. We coordinate programs that offer college credit classes to high school students.

Gardening and lawn care keep me busy during the summer. Enjoying activities with the family keeps me busy year round. I am a member and lay worship leader at Bethany Lutheran Church, have coached Little League Baseball and am a member of the Palo Alto Hospital Ambulance Service among other community activities.

Being elected as City Councilperson At-Large in 2006 was my first venture into city government. I have found the experience to be a challenge and yet rewarding. There are many things involved that are not apparent to the casual observer. The past four years have seen many positive projects and activities initiated within the community. I would like to be a part of those ventures as they mature and become an important part of Emmetsburg. I feel the experiences of the last four years have given me a glimpse of the workings and requirements of city government that will enable me to represent the citizens of Emmetsburg in a constructive manner.

One of the challenges of any business in the current economic conditions is to achieve the most with the dollars available. We as a city government need to continue to provide the best possible services to the citizens with the budget income that is available. We need to continue to search for innovative funding sources and to employ sound budget management practices. While costs continue to increase, we must employ every possible means to control revenue asking.

A key to positive economic growth is to improve the business climate of the area. Two ways to do this are through economic development and attracting persons to purchase our products. We as a city and county must continue to strive to attract new businesses to relocate, expand or start-up in our area. These should be environmentally friendly businesses that will not overload our municipal utilities without providing the income to justify possible utility expansion. Cooperation with Emmetsburg Community Development Corp., area and statewide economic development organizations in addition to the local Chamber of Commerce is essential. While looking to new business ventures, it is absolutely vital that we work to assist local companies to remain solvent and expand if they have the opportunity. One key to encouraging growth within the community is to promote Emmetsburg as a place to live, raise a family, obtain an education and invest in products and services.

A person who has no destination could end up about anyplace. The same is true of a city government and the city enterprises. We as the Emmetsburg City Council must continue to encourage goal setting in all city departments to project future fiscal needs. This process is in place and is growing every year. Department managers are looking to the future and projecting needs in the areas of equipment and facilities. An example of this is the inclusion of money within the yearly budgets to partially fund the expected DNR requirement of an enclosed storage area for road salt. Vehicle and equipment replacement and parks and recreation construction is other examples of planned budget items.

I would appreciate the opportunity to continue to serve Emmetsburg as Councilperson At-Large. Together we can make Emmetsburg a better place to live.


My name is Steve Finer. I was elected to the Emmetsburg City Council, Ward 1, in 2001. I am a 15-year Emmetsburg business owner and has been active in Emmetsburg JayCees, Emmetsburg Country Club and Five Island Golf Board, Bethany Lutheran Church, Main Street Community Theatre, Emmetsburg Little League, Little E’Hawk Wrestling, Emmetsburg Volunteer Fire Department and ECDC Board. I also served on the Advisory Board of Iowa Lakes Community College Automotive Technology Board and Iowa Automobile Dealers Association Palo Alto County Director.

Emmetsburg has accomplished great achievements over the past decade, several of which most communities of 4,000 people have only dreamed about. However, accomplishments such as obtaining a state-issued gaming license and attracting a first-class developer, and attracting a world-class renewable fuels producer don’t just happen. They come to happen as a result of being well-prepared and strategically positioned. Emmetsburg was and is prepared and remains positioned to grow and prosper in countless ways, but keeping her that way will require constant attention and leadership.

Considering today’s challenging economic times, Emmetsburg’s continued success will require effective teamwork and sound businesslike decision-making skills now more than ever. I believe my experience as a local business owner who has weathered the up’s and downs of the economy helps to make me an effective member of our city council. Now is not the time to rest. Now is the time to work harder so that we are primed to take advantage of any and all opportunities that present themselves.

Goal #1: To continue keeping the City of Emmetsburg’s property taxes as low as feasibly possible. During the past eight years, Emmetsburg’s property tax levy has dropped from $16.54 per $1,000 of valuation to the current $14.21/$1,000. This represents a fourteen percent reduction. Prior to my taking office, the City of Emmetsburg’s share of the local property tax asking was 46%. It now stands at 36.9%. If elected, I will continue to work with the council and administration to implement and maintain cost-effective means of delivering essential services to my fellow citizens.

Goal #2: To make Emmetsburg a destination point rather than just another city positioned along U.S. Highway 18. We can do this by enhancing our God-given natural resources with man-made amenities that accommodate persons of all ages. We can do this by marketing our assets such as Five Island Lake, Kearny State Park campground, and Wild Rose Casino & Resort, and leveraging these assets by adding other facilities and attractions, This goal is not something the City Council will achieve alone. This will require buy-in by the entire community, but effective leadership will be essential if we are to achieve this goal.

Goal #3: To ensure that Emmetsburg is well-positioned to attract new business and industry when the economy makes a turn for the better. We laid the groundwork by acquiring land and developing Emmetsburg Business Park, but this land won’t sell itself. Emmetsburg is home to some of the most productive workers in this nation, if not the entire world. Emmetsburg was named one of America’s Top 100 Best Places to Live. We ARE marketable. We need to make a commitment to market ourselves…to let others around the world know that Emmetsburg is THE PLACE where the American dream is alive and well.

Equally as important is our commitment to our existing, local businesses. Their financial health and wellbeing is critical if we are to prosper as a community, and it is the responsibility of every citizen to do what he or she can to support our local businesses.


I am Dr. Ted Ellis, a retired dentist. My wife Vicki and I were both raised in Emmetsburg and with the exception of our college and military years, have lived here nearly all of our lives. Our three children, Jason, Steph and Joel, were all E’Hawks.

I don’t have any special or hidden agenda in seeking the council seat for Ward One.

I am very conservative and value personal property rights with an open responsible government. Decisions should be made with input from all council members with an open ear and respectful consideration for those that we serve.

Below are my experiences that would serve well for the council:

23 years self-employed dentist in Emmetsburg

20 years military service

12 years Emmetsburg Community Schools Board of Education, five years as President

Emmetsburg Economic Development Commission

Emmetsburg Airport Commission

Support Flight Commander 55th Dental Squadron Offutt AFB, Nebraska; managed administration and supply function for 100 person dental clinic

Dental Flight Commander 90th Medical Group F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming; managed 28 person dental clinic; served on Executive Staff and eight subcommittees for 200 person medical clinic.