Jeff Hyma

Submitted photo

Jeff Hyma is running to represent the Second Ward on the Winona City Council.

by CESAR SALAZAR

 

Winona’s Second Ward seat (west central Winona) on the City Council won’t be a heated race compared to the other council seats up for election this year. Council member Eileen Moeller decided not to seek re-election, and newcomer Jeff Hyma is running unopposed in November.

Moeller said she decided to not run due to her full-time job obligations outside of being a City Council member. She added that she also wanted to avoid potential conflicts of interest from her job with the seat. “I really enjoyed serving,” Moeller said.

In a recent interview, Hyma spoke of his background as well as his thoughts on some topics in the city. He described himself as someone who will do his research and use data to make decisions. He said he isn’t running on any platform other than, “I'll give it a try. I’ll do my best.”

Hyma has lived in Winona for the past 26 years and is a former contract negotiator with Education Minnesota — the state’s teachers’ union — for the past 20 years. Hyma also served as an education lobbyist in St. Paul, Minn., and prior to that, was a high school and college social studies teacher for 20 years. Hyma has also sits on the Parks and Rec Subcommittee for the city’s comprehensive plan.

“I have a perception of Winona from my time here and from raising two sons here,” Hyma said. “I think Winona has a tremendous number of positives from my perspective, because that’s been my experience here, and I think that experience is shared by others, but probably not by all. So one of the things that I need to make sure that I do is to try to set up open communication and seek out opinions that are different than mine and perspectives and experiences that are different from mine.”

 

Public safety building and community center

Hyma said he was against the proposal by the city to build a new police-fire-community-center at the East Rec Center (ERC) site. “With the personal experience of having dropped my son there for years and years, and I just felt that [with] Winona being an island city, land is of a premium,” Hyma said. “Parkland, once you lose it, you virtually never get it back. So I would always be extremely hesitant to give up green space or city park to development because you’re never going to get it back again.”

Hyma doesn’t have a particular opinion on what direction the city should take for combined or separate police and fire stations, but he thinks that any option should be explored. “I think there’s just a lot of questions that would have to be answered before I could come up with a distinct ‘yeah, I lean this way; I lean that way,’” Hyma said.

 

Priorities and projects

Hyma said he doesn’t have a laundry list of projects to bring to the table for the city, but he wants to balance the city’s needs versus wants. “I think it’s important to take a broad view and then narrow it over time,” Hyma said. “Right now, I see the next six months is me developing that broad view and some of that you really can’t do until you’re actually in because you just don’t have access to all the information that you need to understand the pieces of it. I’ve got a lot to learn, so I think it’d be presumptuous of me to come in and say, ‘Oh yeah, these are the things that need to be done.’”

 

Budgets

Hyma said that while he understands public school funding, he doesn’t completely understand the city’s funding, but he plans on learning when he gets on the seat. He did add, “It’s one thing to have a plan; it’s [another] thing to have a wishlist. If you don’t have dedicated funding [for] those things, it’s always easy to put them on the back burner. I do think that in outlining budgets and comprehensive plans, that you do need to have a funding stream, not only for the development but the maintenance of those things because all things deteriorate. So you’ve got to have that in the planning of, how do you go forward with this?”

 

‘I’ll do the best I can’

Hyma wrapped up his statements by speaking to his future constituents. “I would just ask that as I venture into this, I’d ask two things from people,” Hyma said. “One is please communicate with me.” He continued, “The other thing that I would say is to have some patience because I understand I have a steep learning curve. I don’t come into this with a preset of ideas or solutions. I don’t think oftentimes those stand up, and I think people can get stuck. I think it’ll be an adventure. One that I hope is good most of the time, and I’m sure it’ll have its points of frustration, but I’ll do the best I can with it. ”

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