Jeff Wimann is one of three candidates vying for the open Sedalia City Council Ward 4 seat this June after Ward 4 Councilman Tollie Rowe announced he would not be seeking re-election.
In March, Wimann announced he would be withdrawing from the race due to his commitment to the Bothwell Regional Health Center Board of Trustees, however, in April, Wimann had a change of heart after several residents asked him to run again and watching the Pettis County Pachyderm candidate forum.
Wimann will face Sedalia Park Board member Rhiannon Foster and former Ward 4 Councilman Larry Stevenson in the June 2 municipal election.
Originally from Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, Wimann has been coming to Sedalia since 1976 with his wife, Becky Jaeger Wimann, who is from Sedalia and has been a homeowner in the Fourth Ward for 14 years. He said they have lived in, at last count, more than a dozen apartments, nine different homes, and six states, but when it came time to settle down for retirement the choice “was easy, it was Sedalia.”
Growing up in a family of eight, Wimann was inspired by watching his father, a plumber, serve on the Wisconsin Dells City Council for 28 straight years.
“He told me he voted for what’s best for the city,” Wimann said. “He was one of those, not a high profile businessman, he was for the common man, the working man, and whatever he voted for was always for the best interest of my hometown, Wisconsin Dells. He voted for what was best for the city and I’m planning on doing that all the time; reminding myself every time I go in there to vote what’s best for the city.”
Wimann is the Vice Chair of the Bothwell Board of Trustees, the Chair of the Bothwell board’s Finance Committee, a member of the Sedalia Planning and Zoning Commission, a member of the Sedalia Lions Club and works part-time as a driver for W-K Chevrolet.
Wimann worked in the toy industry in sales and marketing for 35 years before retiring and said he believes his experiences there will help him on the council. He said through his work he learned to stop talking, listen first, and talk later.
“I found very early in my career that being antagonistic with someone doesn't solve any problems at all,” Wimann explained. “In the sales industry there’s always a problem, every day there is a problem taking place and you have to go solve those problems. Working on a solution together with someone, you facilitate both sides, by doing that you have to listen. If you don’t listen you're not going to go anywhere.”
Wimann said the top issue he has heard from Fourth Ward residents has been about the ward’s deteriorating sidewalks and revitalization so he was happy the city is moving forward with its Chapter 353 project, which will help the city get state and federal funding for revitalization efforts.
“It’s a way to help Sedalia and we have a lot of needs,” he said. “There’s a million needs for Sedalia, but money is always important. Where’s the money coming from? This, being a part of the Chapter 353, is going to help us get extra funds for areas in town that need it.”
Other issues Wimann wants to focus on is making sure Bothwell has strong leadership and support to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. He also thinks tourism is important for the city.
“Tourism is something that we don’t talk about that much, but tourism it’s another thing that brings a lot of revenue to the city,” he said. “We all have our fingers crossed that the state fair will not be canceled because that’s going to be a loss of revenue for us. There’s a lot of other things that the state fairgrounds provide for us with a lot of different functions that bring in a lot of people into town and help us with revenue.”
Another priority for Wimann is the city’s finances. Wimann said he has gone through the 2020 budget and attended meetings when the council was going through its budget process this year and found them “very interesting.” He said the city’s finances are strong and he wants the city to continue to focus on them.
Wimann said he is also excited about the Heckart Community Center, especially with Sedalia voters voting overwhelmingly for the ballot issues on the subject.
“I think it’s good for Sedalia, it’s going to bring in more people,” he said. “We have a great school system, we already know that, and now we will have a great community center and that’s going to attract more people to want to live here and industries as well.”
If elected, Wimann’s first priority will be to make sure everyone in the Fourth Ward knows how to reach him. Another goal is to work on understanding the issues brought to the council, especially on whatever committee he is assigned to and to “serve the best I can.”
“I just want to make sure that I’m not just going to go onto a committee and then not pay attention to it,” Wimann explained. “I want to get involved and learn everything possible for that committee so that when I do have to speak, recommend or vote yes or no on some issue, I have all of the information available to me to give a correct vote as far as I’m concerned.”