As a city official — first a council member and now the mayor — Brett Barker has always taken his service to the residents seriously. That is why, three-and-a-half years ago, he set forth on the path of becoming a “Certified Elected Municipal Officer” (CEMO).
In the history of the program, only 30 city leaders in Iowa have received this designation. Former mayor, Lynn Lathrop was among those.
“Mayor Lathrop had earned his CEMO, and I felt it was a great precedent to follow,” Barker said.
Now, Nevada’s current mayor is also a CEMO, receiving his certificate during the annual conference of the Iowa League of Cities earlier this month.
“I felt it was important to get a deeper understanding of my role and the requirements of city government,” Barker said. “I think it’s important for the community to have elected officials who take their role seriously and are well prepared to make decisions on behalf of Nevada.” Barker was one of eight city officials this fall to earn the designation. In addition to Barker, other 2018 Certified Elected Municipal Officials, people who chose to commit to and continue professional development while in office, include: Steven Druivenga, mayor, Wall Lake; Curt Gause, council member, Pleasant Hill; Adam Griggs, council member, Central City; Richard Heim, mayor, Auburn; Debra K. Larsen, mayor, New Hampton; Bruce Perry, council member, Sac City and Susie Weinacht, council member, Cedar Rapids.
Participation in the program is 100 percent voluntary, and Barker describes the program’s training as “longitudinal with multiple facets.” He said, “I have been working on the requirements for the past three-and-a-half years, which included both in-person and online classes in budgeting, legal requirements and other municipal issues.”
The most complicated part of the training for Barker was on tax increment financing (TIF). “It’s a significant economic development tool, but incredibly complex,” he said.
Alan Kemp, executive director of the Iowa League of Cities, released a statement on the significance of the CEMO designation. “Those achieving the CEMO designation spend many hours, often on weekends, attending workshops and conferences on the finer points of municipal government. This is a significant commitment to local government, and I commend these individuals for their dedication and motivation to become more effective municipal officials.”