Jim Salzwedel knows a thing or two about how to make his voice heard. Growing up as one of 11 siblings, he quickly learned that you can’t wait for others to ask your opinion.
“If you want to be heard, you talk loud,” he says, reflecting on what it was like to grow up in his family.
He carries that same attitude with him as a member of Lowell City Council. While not loud in volume, Salzwedel is quick to ask questions and make suggestions about matters before the city’s governing body. That’s whether it be to say it’s time for a long-term mowing contract to be sent out for bid or offering his professional expertise on technical issues.
“I think I’ve done a more than adequate job in the last four years,” Salzwedel says. He was first elected in 2017 and received the highest number of votes that year, garnering him a four-year term. Now, he is running in the upcoming November election to retain his seat.
“I’m not just ready to give up yet,” he says. “I think I have more to offer.”
Representing Regular Citizens on the Council
For most of his first term, the majority of other councilmembers were business owners, and Salzwedel sees it as his role to represent the regular residents of the city. He has spent a career in the security industry and currently works in executive sales with Allied Universal Technology Services.
At age 68, Salzwedel is the oldest member of the council, and he notes there is currently a good range of ages represented among its members. He adds he isn’t on social media which means he isn’t swayed by whatever the trending perception is online.
Instead, when an issue comes before the council, he takes his time to research the matter by reading packet materials, getting into his car to drive to whatever location might be in question and speaking to those who might be affected by the issue. While citizens can’t chat with him online, he is always ready to chat with people on the front porch or the phone to hear their concerns.
Heading into the fall, he says he has his eye on the sewer and road projects planned for Monroe and Washington Streets. With a $9 million price tag, he wants to be sure the city isn’t tying up too many resources in one area of town. “I’m worried about what else is out there [in terms of needed sewer and street repairs],” Salzwedel says.
Another looming issue is what to do with Recreation Park after the Kent County Youth Fair moves to its new location. Whatever use is chosen, Salzwedel wants to make sure it’s in the best interest of the community and the majority of residents.
Active Community Member
Salzwedel moved to Lowell in 2006 and wasted no time in getting involved in the community. Prior to being elected to City Council, he was a member of the Planning Commission.
While he had to resign that post to become a councilmember, he now serves as the council representative on the Arbor Board, Lowell Light & Power Board, LCTV Endowment Board and the Lowell Showboat VI Board. He was also elected by councilmembers to be Mayor Pro Tem.
He and his wife Lynette have three adult children, six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren with a fourth on the way. Salzwedel has bowled regularly since he was 18, and his youngest son took up the sport at age 4. That eventually led to a 12-year stint as a high school bowling coach.
As one more example of his willingness to share his time and talent, during this period, Salzwedel sat on the Michigan High School Interscholastic Bowling Coaches Association board and also served as a regional director for Southwest Michigan. Salzwedel ended his coaching career in 2012 and says this year is the first time in 50 years that he is not bowling.
Even if not re-elected, Salzwedel has no plans to stop being an active part of the community. “I’m not going to go away,” he says.
However, he feels he has done a good job for the past four years, and he hopes voters will agree and return him to Lowell City Council for another term this November.