Penzel resigns alderman post to focus on construction company

Phil Penzel, owner of Penzel Construction Co., answers a question as team members Brett Dille and Ron Glasier listen during a public meeting March 8, 2016, with the top two police station project teams at Cape Girardeau City Hall.
Fred Lynch

Jackson Alderman Phil Penzel resigned his position on the board Monday, to free his construction company to pursue new business opportunities, according to a city news release.

Penzel, president and CEO of Penzel Construction Co. in Jackson, has been an alderman for 12 years altogether, beginning in 2001 with a hiatus to distance himself from another potential conflict of interest, he said Monday.

Penzel Construction pursues design-build projects, and has put a bid in for Cape Girardeau County’s Justice Center. Mayor Dwain Hahs said at Monday’s regular Board of Aldermen meeting Penzel Construction plans to be involved in other projects, moving forward.

As an alderman, Penzel would have to excuse himself from meetings and votes concerning projects and, he said, he doesn’t want the spotlight on him.

“I’ve enjoyed working with everybody,” Penzel said. “It’s a shame, but it’s the right thing to do.”

Penzel said he’ll miss working closely with the other aldermen and with city staff in his capacity as alderman, but “I’ll still help out in any way I can. I just won’t have a vote in the council meeting.”

The next step falls to Hahs, who said he plans to conduct interviews with some candidates from Ward 1 over the next month or two before appointing a temporary replacement for Penzel.

Then, in the April 2019 municipal election, the Ward 1 seat would be up for election.

“I really appreciate Phil’s service for the city,” Hahs said by phone Monday. “I hate to lose him, but I understand what he’s doing with his business — that’s good, too.”

Penzel said he’s very proud of the work the city has done to upgrade and improve infrastructure.

Upgrades to the electrical system in Jackson have improved service since early in his tenure, he said, and the improvements to the water and sewer systems mean better quality of life for residents and better opportunities for businesses.

“We have a long way to go yet,” Penzel said, “but the city is making plans.”

Beyond Jackson’s internal work, Penzel said he’s been pleased to see collaboration between the city and other government entities.

“I’ve worked with three mayors from both Cape and Jackson in my time as alderman,” Penzel said. “It’s really important to me, and I’m glad to see we as a city are back on track to having a progressive relationship with the city of Cape and Cape Girardeau County.”

Penzel said the forward-thinking, regional mindset is extremely beneficial to all parties involved, and will lead to making Jackson a better place for people to live and work.

“I think everyone should work together and look at things that will help the region, not just their little corner of the world,” Penzel said.

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