District 1 councilman faces challenger in general election

Of the five Seymour Common Council district seats, only one features a contested race in the Nov. 7 general election.

District 1 incumbent Republican Matt Wheeler is facing a challenge from Democrat Drew Davis.

Running unopposed are Republicans Jerry Hackney, District 2; Chad Hubbard, District 3; Seth Davidson, District 4; and Brad Lucas, District 5. All are incumbents with the exception of Lucas, who recently retired as Seymour’s fire chief.

Early voting starts today from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Jackson County Public Library, 303 W. Second St., Seymour, and Jackson County Courthouse, 111 S. Main St., Brownstown. Registered voters also can cast their ballots early from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Nov. 4 at those same two locations.

The Tribune sent questions to the District 1 candidates. That includes a couple of reader-submitted questions.

Why did you decide to run for the Seymour Common Council?

Wheeler: I have decided to run for reelection for city council because I still feel the need to serve our community. The past four years have been a great learning experience. I’ve enjoyed learning how the city operates, the different needs the city has in the present and how to make effective decisions that will help improve our city for our citizens in the future. One of my personal goals has been to try to make Seymour a place where my children would stay as adults. The city is going in the right direction, but I feel there are more things I want to see accomplished.

Davis: I was asked.

What do you think you can bring to the council?

Wheeler: Having learned quite a bit in the past term, I feel I have a great amount of experience to share. Council makes many important and difficult decisions. Having knowledge of past issues the council has encountered helps. I also work in my family’s small business and have developed excellent problem-solving and creative thinking skills, which I believe are an asset.

Davis: Good decisions with a dash of outside-the-box thinking.

What’s the most pressing issue facing the city at this time, and how do you plan to address it?

Wheeler: Currently, the city faces several important issues; however, one of the most important is our housing situation. Seymour has seen a large growth in population, and housing has not kept up with demand. There is no quick fix, but the city is making headway with rezoning and a flurry of new construction of both single-family homes and apartment complexes. The city needs to continue to be proactive on zoning, but we must also be careful that we protect our existing neighborhoods.

Davis: Mainly traffic concerns. Locally, a lot of streets are in repair. But on a statewide issue (not my purview), helping the Latino community get driver’s licenses so they qualify for insurance and can be safer for everyone on the road.

What do you think will be the biggest challenge facing Seymour in five years, and what would be your best idea to mitigate that challenge now?

Wheeler: Predicting what will become the biggest issue in the future can be impossible; however, some issues never cease to exist. Roadways, storm sewers and public works are always going to need maintenance, repairs and replacing. Finding grants, state and federal programs as well as being good stewards of our tax income is the key to our success. For example, earlier this year, the council approved a trash transfer station at the Department of Public Works that will save the city a great deal of money by eliminating the wear and tear on our trash trucks traveling to the dump every day. It is important that we continue to look for opportunities such as this.

Davis: The traffic and roads issue is primary. Seymour is rapidly growing, which is a good thing, but we need to ensure our roads grow with us lest that growth gets hampered.

What are you most proud of about Seymour?

Wheeler: I was born and raised in Seymour, and I have enjoyed raising my kids here. Our city has experienced growth in industry, population and the city limits, yet has maintained the small town feel and hospitality. When you walk around downtown, people still smile and wave. I am always impressed with the dedication and pride of our city employees. Our police department, firefighters, sewer, public works and parks and recreation workers are out every day making sure the citizens’ needs are met, and I believe that is one of the reasons our growing city maintains its downhome feel.

Davis: Its people. Seymour has long been a German immigrant town, and now, we have a significant number of residents from countries south of the United States. My great-grandparents came to the U.S. looking for opportunity. I applaud those who have the spirit to risk it all and come to our community to do the same. The pioneer spirit is still alive.