In his 18 years as Delavan’s mayor, Mel Nieuwenhuis has overseen the building of a new fire station, the creation of a downtown taxing district and the expansion of the industrial park.
Seeing those positive changes made his decision to not seek re-election in April much easier, he said.
“Eighteen years is a lot longer than I expected,” Nieuwenhuis said.
As he toyed with the idea of ending his run as mayor, he spoke with numerous people in early December and considered reasons to run for re-election.
He reflected on the projects and improvements that became reality since he took over in 2002. Nieuwenhuis said he thought it was time to go.
“I like to think I left an impact in town,” he said.
After spending three years on the city council, Niewenhuis decided to run for mayor because he wanted to make a difference.
“I just had a desire to continue to serve and run for mayor,” he said. “I didn’t have any personal agenda. I just wanted to see if I could win.”
Nieuwenhuis said he worked hard to reduce the city’s debt and keep taxes low when he could. Watching Delavan change and grow makes him proud.
“My favorite part, I would say, is seeing Delavan grow and getting the chance to meet a lot of people over the years,” he said. “It’s been a joy doing that and seeing good things happen in Delavan.”
He sees a lot of potential for Delavan, pointing to continued growth in the industrial park and other businesses moving in. He hopes to see the downtown grow and the city address residential needs.
But for now, he’s going to spend time doing the things he missed.
“I want to really start enjoying life with my wife and get to fish and golf and hunt. I’m looking forward to that,” he said.
Thanks to the Delavan community, his family is bigger, too.
“I’ve gotten to know so many people, and I really consider them part of my family after all these years,” he said.
“A big thank you to the citizens of Delavan for allowing me to serve the last 18 years as mayor. Words cannot express my thanks. Without them, I obviously wouldn’t be re-elected each time, and I hope I served everybody well.”