Bill Schuette, candidate for Ward 2 alderman, believes in standing up to special interest groups, supporting civic involvement, holding tight to strong building regulations and working to make a stronger city overall.
Schuette is a familiar face at City Hall. From 2006 to 2010 he served as an alderman in Ward 2, but he relinquished his seat during an unsuccessful bid for mayor in 2010. He said he is ready to get back to business, and return to the post of Ward 2 alderman.
“I want to continue to serve as an alderman because I just want to do what’s right for the residents of the community,” Schuette said. “This is not a stepping stone for me. I simply believe in working to help our city improve.”
Schuette believes in “quality growth,” including thoughtful consideration of ordinances and building codes.
“That’s why I ran for alderman the first time. I think the Home Builders Association (HBA) has way too much to say about what goes on in our community,” Schuette said. “It’s our community, they’re here just to make a buck and then get out of here.”
Schuette was proud to say that as alderman he was successful in helping to improve ordinances that raise standards for residential construction.
Schuette said when he served on the board, he worked to change standards for street construction because streets built less than 10 years ago already have to be replaced. Now, the HBA is trying to go back to the old way, he said.
“If our public works department comes out to do slab replacements, they put a rock base, steel mesh and then the concrete,” Schuette said. “If we do that as a city, why are we not requiring that in a new development?”
Schuette said several years ago the city board changed building standards to comply with those in St. Peters and O’Fallon, so standards would be universal. Now, the HBA is asking for ordinance changes to drop building standards back to where they were in 2003, removing changes the board put in place.
“The HBA makes it sound like some of the board members made these building ordinance changes to put them out of business,” Schuette said. “We did this because we couldn’t get them to police their own industry.”
Schuette is also a strong believer in listening to residents’ concerns. He believes in civic involvement and that all residents should have a voice in government.
“I’ve heard the mayor and other aldermen say ‘This isn’t mob rule,’ when large crowds of people would come speak out at the meetings,” Schuette said. “Lately, it’s crowded at nearly every board meeting, and I’m glad to see more resident involvement.”
Schuette introduced the ordinance providing for the annual utility tax rebate for low-income seniors and disabled people, because he realizes the struggles some on fixed incomes are faced with when paying bills.
“I will do what’s right for the community. I’m a taxpayer like anybody else. I look at every issue as though it’s affecting me. And it is,” Schuette said. “I don’t look at it from a business perspective. If it’s right, it’s right. If it’s wrong, it’s wrong.”
The problems in the city are the same as when he was elected the first time, and he wants to see the city move forward, not backward, Schuette said.
“I’m not big on special interests, especially at the local level. Local politics is about residents, keeping our taxes in check while still providing the best possible services,” he said.
One “hot spot” for Schuette is complying with the City’s Master Plan.
“The proposed is on a piece of ground that should have been transitional housing, not commercial. They’re putting a huge commercial business near Bear Creek Subdivision with all the single-family homes,” Schuette said. “Generally speaking, our planning and zoning commission does a good job, but lately, it’s been pretty one-sided in favor of HBA and businesses in general. I’m a firm believer that if a business will affect the quality of life of residents, they should make changes. We were here first.”
There are other pieces of property in the city that would be more than adequate for a Sam’s Club, but the developers want no part of it, Schuette said.
“Nobody gives me an ultimatum. We don’t need Sam’s Club here. We have plenty of other stores. I say, you either make this compatible with the community and not affect other people’s lives, or don’t come in,” Schuette said. “We don’t want them saying it’s all or nothing. I’d love to see it for the city sales taxes, but they shouldn’t give the board an ultimatum.”
The Sam’s Club has yet to be approved by the city, and a public hearing is scheduled for April 13 to consider approving a Community Improvement District (CID) for the business, which means shoppers at the Sam’s Club would pay an additional half cent sales tax to help pay off building costs.
“I’ll be at the public hearing in April when it comes up,” Schuette said. “I don’t see that Sam’s Club needs help building this.”
Schuette said his father was a skilled craftsman who taught him the importance of building things the right way.
“That’s why I’m so passionate. I’ve built buildings and done concrete work, and finished basements. I’ve done this work, and I know what goes into it,” Schuette said. “For some aldermen, there is a serious disconnect between the elected officials and the people who put them in office. I don’t believe in telling people things I can’t back up.”
Schuette and his wife, Joyce, have been Wentzville residents since 2001. They have two grown children.