Wilbur Swartzendruber, retiring Wellman mayor, is, whether he realizes it or not, a consummate politician. Sitting in the Kalonial Townhouse talking about his years in office, he constantly …
Wilbur Swartzendruber, retiring Wellman mayor, is, whether he realizes it or not, a consummate politician. Sitting in the Kalonial Townhouse talking about his years in office, he constantly interrupts himself to shake a hand or say hello to a passing acquaintance. If one didn’t know better, one would assume he was running for office, instead of gratefully, at least on his part, leaving one.
Swartzendruber served as the mayor of Wellman, his first elected office, for four years. As Wellman City Clerk Donna Wade puts it, “He came in with no experience in city government. He worked very hard to learn and be the best mayor he could.”
Swartzendruber is the first to admit that he had a lot to learn when he took office. “I attended seminars with the Iowa League of Municipalities,” he explained. “I learned all the new developments towns have access to.”
One of the things he learned was how to write a grant and he is hopeful that a grant will pay for part of the $1.2 million sewer system that will be constructed in Wellman after the first of the year.
During his tenure in office Swartzendruber saw many positive changes in Wellman, including the remodeling of City Hall, Senior Center and Wellman-Scofield Public Library complex.
“I commend the people of Wellman for supporting that project,” he said.
“The basement of City Hall is used six days a week for shuffleboard,” he said, noting that it’s a good place for senior citizens to spend time.
Other accomplishments he’s pleased with are the acquisition of land west of the skating rink and the purchase of a house south of the municipal building. The house will be torn down to make room for a much-needed parking lot.
He’s also “very pleased with the improvements to the recreation center and skating rink and the way children from all over can come in to skate.”
Swartzendruber commented that the best part of his four years in office was that he “made a lot of new acquaintances and learned to know the people of Wellman.”
“I had a chance to work with two different councils,” he said. “It was a challenge to work through the various controversies.”
The latest, and perhaps most heated controversy has, of course, been his recent veto of the planned Recreation Center.
“It (his vetoing of the project) is not the end of the world,” Swartzendruber said. “I truly believe a vote needs to be taken of the entire city.”
He feels that the project may still get off the ground “if the new council will consider the plans of the Area Foundation with revisions.
“The City has major expenditures it must face” in the near future. These include “new water lines, a new city well, paved streets and the new sewer system that is coming.”
Swartzendruber’s not worried about filling empty hours once his term as mayor comes to an end.
“I’m taking a crew to Texas in February to work for Habitat for Humanity,” he said, continuing a 10-year tradition. His hay and straw auctions at the Kalona Sales Barn also will continue.
All in all, Swartzendruber said. “I was thoroughly happy the last four years with the main employees of the city and the city clerk and her assistant.” In fact, in his opinion, “Wellman has one of the best city clerks in the State of Iowa.”
For her part, City Clerk Donna Wade responds, “Wilbur was very pleasant to work with.”