After eight years on the Sedalia City Council, Ward 4 Councilman Tolbert “Tollie” Rowe thinks it’s time for the seat to “have a fresh voice.”
Elected to the council in 2012, Rowe has spent the last eight years in his Ward 4 seat, but he has decided not to run for re-election this year.
Rowe told the Democrat he “figured after eight years it was long enough.” His full-time job as a detective sergeant for the Pettis County Sheriff’s Office also takes up a lot of his time.
“It’s time for a fresh voice,” Rowe explained. “Let somebody else have an opportunity to represent the Fourth Ward…
“I think the timing is perfect timing to step back with my full-time responsibility being investigations for the sheriff’s office…” he continued. “Then with picking up teaching at the part-time police academy, it’s a good time to step away and not get overloaded. If you can’t do the job 150%, step down and let somebody else do it.”
Rowe serves as the Mayor Pro-Tem and is a Finance and Administration Committee member. He spent a lot of time on the Public Works Committee, which he said were his favorite projects to work on.
“I really enjoyed the public works side, just learning the process,” Rowe explained. “Seriously, just think about how much it takes. No one really thinks about the pipes that go underground or the process of how you treat stormwater or how you treat sewage...
“What I found fascinating was the level of knowledge and the breadth of experience and capability that our city staff has. A lot of the issues that we see from city council have been looked at from professionals. From stormwater to TIF (tax increment financing) to economic development to even snow plowing. It’s amazing the thought and the work that goes into something that we just take for granted every day.”
Rowe said the most challenging part of being on the council was keeping up with what was going on and dealing with unforeseen challenges as they came up. He said there were several issues he put a lot of “thought, effort and energy” into. There are several projects he is proud of helping accomplish but said he believes they have all been a group effort.
“If any councilman says that they did something then they’re not speaking correctly because the entire council will work on an issue,” Rowe said. “I’m proud, of course, of the new fire station, the police station, the efforts that the city did to bring Nucor in and get development.
“I know there were some hot button topics for a while that a lot of people hated such as the TIF and we had to raise sewer rates; that was a tough decision but it had to be done. Curbside recycling and trash pickups. Those are all things that I’m proud of even though some folks didn’t like them, but it’s in the best interest of the city.”
Fellow Ward 4 Councilwoman Megan Page has served on the council with Rowe for three years. She said Rowe has “done a great service for Sedalia” and she was “very, very sad” to see him go. Page said Rowe helped her when she was first elected to the council. She said he is a “no-nonsense person” who will “give it to you straight.” Page said she believes this and his out-of-the-box thinking are some of his greatest strengths.
“He thinks outside the box and he thinks about things differently than some of the rest of us do,” Page explained. “It makes it great because if you think one way and he thinks the other way, he’s going to explain to you why he feels that way about it. He definitely brings a different opinion just from his experience with the public and public safety was a huge thing. He sees so much that the rest of us are guarded from. It’s just his differing opinions and experiences.”
Page said she will miss his sense of humor the most though.
“A lot of people don’t get to see that side of him just because of what he does and where he works. I got to see it a lot,” she said. “That is something that I would definitely miss because if I was getting frustrated with something that was going on he would make some kind of crazy Tollie comment and make me laugh just to kind of break the ice. I’ll miss that a lot…
“The next person that comes to sit with me on the Fourth Ward, they have some very, very big shoes to fill,” she continued. “It’s a big job and I just pray that the right person gets voted in and puts 100% towards what they’re doing because Tollie definitely did that.”
Rowe said he has enjoyed being on the council and is optimistic about the city’s future. The thing he will miss the most is the camaraderie with his fellow council members.
“I’ve enjoyed the whole process of it,” he explained. “I’m going to miss it. I’ve learned so much — I had no idea the in-depth work and thought that goes into the normal processes that we all just don’t think about...It’s a great council and I am confident that whoever is willing to take up that seat in the fourth ward will do well and they’re going to have a good time. I think the city has a lot of things going for it. I’m very excited for what the city is going to have in two or three years.”