John Wetzel had served on the Powell City Council for more than 10 years when the death of Don Hillman led to Wetzel’s appointment as mayor in February 2017.
Now, Wetzel hopes to be elected mayor in his own right.
Wetzel is running to fill the remainder of Hillman’s unexpired term, a race in which he is being challenged by Ryan Miller (see separate story).
Wetzel believes his experience in city government is a major asset, as is his involvement with the community. Over the last 25 years, he’s been involved with many community organizations, including the Kiwanis, Powell Chamber of Commerce, Park County Travel Council and Habitat for Humanity.
“My service as a council representative and mayor [has] allowed me to gain valuable institutional knowledge across the broad spectrum of city business functions,” Wetzel said. “The city operates a power company, sanitation company, water company, is a partner in an internet company and provides many other services for Powell, all of which require solid management skills I’ve garnered in private business and as a dedicated volunteer.”
Wetzel also believes his ability to communicate with the citizens of Powell is another of his strengths, as are his leadership abilities.
“I believe it’s important to keep the constituents informed and involved in the happenings at city hall,” Wetzel said. “I also strive to listen to all sides of an issue, take time to weigh the pros and cons and make the best decision possible given the knowledge they have at hand.”
Wetzel said the city’s main concern is providing needed community services at a reasonable cost, meaning his top priority is the city budget.
“With so many different facets it’s difficult to put in simple terms, but the challenge remains [of] balancing operations and maintenance work while still maintaining strong reserve dollars for the future,” Wetzel said. “This work has been especially difficult with the recent economic downturn and why collaborative work with other city governments at the state level is necessary.”
Also high on the priority list in the city is economic development, with Wetzel adding that he is excited about the upcoming Absaroka Street improvement project.
“Keeping Powell a vibrant, growing community is always one of the city’s goals,” he said. “City staff and council take their facilitation and oversight role very seriously. Understanding how state grant [and] loan programs can benefit Powell is paramount and creates opportunities for projects such as the proposed new hotel and convention space in town.”
Along those lines, Wetzel said long-term planning and infrastructure development is another major priority.
“City leaders and staff take immense pride in making Powell a great place to live,” he said. “For planning purposes, gazing into the crystal ball must be employed regularly. We maintain a surprising number of miles of roads, water lines, sewer lines, and equipment, all of which have maintenance and replacements requirements. And of course, this feeds back into the budget aspect as well — keeping abreast of these needs allow the city to maintain steady services and positive budgets.”
Wetzel received a bachelor of arts degree in history from the University of Wyoming in 1985, then received his master’s degree in industrial education and graphic arts from Clemson the following year. He has been the general manager of the Buyer’s Guide in Cody since 1997 — a shopper co-owned by the Cody Enterprise and Powell Tribune — and was the advertising manager at the Tribune for five years before that.
Wetzel and his wife, Shelby, have three children — Claire, 25, Quin, 23, and Ben, 21.