Wapakoneta city councilor resigns

Three-term Wapakoneta Councilor-at-large Steve Walter announced Monday his resignation from Wapakoneta City Council effective Dec. 31 citing health reasons for ending his latest two-year term early.

“It has been my honor to serve the citizens of the city of Wapakoneta as their elected representative and to serve under your leadership of council,” Walter told Council President Steve Henderson,  Mayor Rodney Metz and his fellow councilors during Monday’s Wapakoneta City Council. “I would like to take this opportunity to thank the voters for their repeated confidence and to thank my committee members for their dedication and hard work on behalf of the well-being of the community.

“I also would like to thank the mayor and his administration for their daily service in the best interests of Wapakoneta,” he said. “I offer my best to all for their continuing success.”

Walter, who underwent heart bypass surgery a couple of years ago, cited his stress and a heart condition for prompting his decision.

The move came unexpectedly in the middle of his two-year term for some on council.

“I was deeply saddened because he is an exceptionally smart and hardworking councilman,” Henderson said. “His resignation from council is not only council’s loss but the citzens of Wapakoneta’s loss. We are losing a great mind and a hard worker.”

Metz said Walter will be missed for what he brought to council.

“He was a very vital part of council and he was and still is a very

active member of council,” Metz said. “He took his duties and responsibilities very seriously and wanted what was best for the city of Wapakoneta.

“I understand his reasons for resigning, but he definitely will be missed,” the mayor said. “He was chair of a very important committee and did a great job leading the city in regard to its energy and water policies.”

Others councilors said they were honored to serve with a councilor who cared so much about the residents of Wapakoneta despite a difference in party affiliation. Walter is one of only two Democrats on council. The other is Jim Neumeier.

Councilor-at-large Tom Finkelmeier Jr. told his fellow councilors that it was an honor and a pleasure to serve with Walter on city council and that he found Walter to be an excellent councilor.

Walter, who was first elected in 2007, served as chair of the Utilities Committee and served as a member of the Communications and Rules Committee and the Health and Safety Committee.

“I really enjoyed my service with Utilities Committee, both as a committee member and as committee chair,” Walter said after Monday’s meeting. “I think it is an important part of our community and I enjoyed working on the issues that came before that committee.

“Of all the issues we worked on, I really wish the solar project was completed and we were at a point where there was proof of concept, but we will get there,” the councilor-at-large said. “I just really would have liked for it to happen while I was still on council because I see it as something that is extremely helpful in meeting the energy needs of the city in the future.”

While he knows adoption of the Long-term Control Plan and spending as much as $30 million on separation of sanitary and stormwater sewer lines to keep raw sewage from entering the Auglaize River may not have been popular, Walter said he was “proud that the committee had the fortitude to make the right decision, to propose the legislation, to bring it to council and to stand behind it.”

“Those decisions that are often the most important decisions are often not the most popular decisions,” Walter said. “The hard work does not win anybody any popularity points.”

Walter said he will now spend more time with his business interests including First Network Group.

He also plans to start writing columns on public policy and to continue his work on public policy matters.

Walter, who is married to City Auditor Gail Walter, intends to retire and live in Tennessee in the future.