Political newcomer challenges retired police chief for council seat


A political newcomer is challenging a retired city police chief for the District 1 Seymour City Council seat in this year’s general election.

Republican Matthew Wheeler, a lifelong resident of Seymour, looks to unseat incumbent Democrat John J. Reinhart, who is seeking his fourth term on the council.

Wheeler, who helps run his family’s small business, said he wants to be a part of making Seymour a place where people want to raise their families.

“I have seen the city grow, and I feel like the timing is right for me to do my part to carve out a bright future for the city,” he said.

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Reinhart, who is retired from the city’s police department and airport, also serves on the city’s plan commission and redevelopment commission. In his 12 years serving on the city council, he said he has made it a point to study the issues from both sides before voting.

“I have strived to do what was in the best interest of the city and the people we serve,” he said.

To educate himself on the job of councilman, Wheeler said he has been talking to past and present city officials. If elected, he also plans on taking a seminar for new government officials offered by the state in December.

But that education doesn’t stop after one class, he said.

“I believe a councilman’s job starts with listening to the residents to see what concerns they have, communicating with companies and firms to get professional opinions and discussing with other cities’ officials to see what has worked and not worked in their communities,” he said.

Reinhart, who retired as police chief in 2000, said he has learned a lot in his time as a council member, but there is always something new that comes up. That’s why he said he plans to look to Accelerated Indiana Municipalities for more training opportunities.

“It is a continuous learning experience,” he said.

When it comes to issues the city is facing, Wheeler said finances, infrastructure and business recruitment need to be addressed by the council.

“We need to find the most efficient and financially responsible way to operate the city,” he said.

In conversations with Seymour residents, Wheeler said there are concerns about streets, sewers and drainage.

“These are problems that are not quickly resolved and will require a multiyear plan that can be done within the budget,” he said.

All efforts of the council should be about making Seymour a better place to live, including bringing new businesses and residents to the city, Wheeler said.

“Enticing new businesses, both large and small, will have a positive effect as a whole on our community and raise the quality of life for our current residents while attracting new residents,” he said.

Reinhart said the city is facing some major expenses in the coming year, including renovations to city hall and the addition or relocation of a fire station. He also said the city needs to find ways to increase affordable housing.

“The city needs to work with developers to meet the need for affordable permanent housing and home ownership,” he said.

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