Wessels has served as chairman on numerous aldermanic committees and has sponsored dozens of bills, including major legislation. He learned to work with people of diverse, and sometimes, conflicting interests to fashion compromises and get things done. Fred will do the same in Jefferson City.
Fred’s skills as a negotiator have resulted in an improved quality of life for those throughout the City and particularly in the 13th and adjacent wards.
CARONDELET PARK RECPLEX
Fred worked with Alderman Matt Villa to secure Carondelet Park as the location of the $20 million Rec Complex and co-sponsored a bill with Matt to contract with the YMCA to operate it. The facility provides a new level of recreation for all who use it and provides reduced fees to make it available to everyone.
BATES STREET MSD PROJECT
Fred convinced Metropolitan Sewer District officials to fund the $34 million Bates/Grand sewer project to alleviate area flooding that had been a problem for decades.
With Alderman Matt Villa, Fred co-sponsored the Loughborough Commons development bill. Although initially controversial, the development has been an overwhelming success that attracts customers from both the City and County and is an amenity for the southeast sector of the City.
Fred was one of the leaders in the effort to reduce the Board of Aldermen from 28 to 14 members. He co-sponsored the bill and worked hard for its passage as a City Charter Amendment. He fought for smaller government in St. Louis and he will do the same in Jefferson City.
SAVING HISTORIC BUILDINGS
As the longest serving chairman of the powerful Housing, Urban Development and Zoning Committee, Fred worked with other aldermen and developers to save dozens of vacant historic buildings throughout the City including Mt. Pleasant School and The Feasting Fox.
SAVING THE FEASTING FOX & MT PLEASANT SCHOOL
In our area, Fred played a critical role in saving the Feasting Fox building which was slated for the headache ball until he and a small group of activists stepped in. The Feasting Fox Restaurant has been an enormous asset for the past 20 years and continues to serve the public six days a week.
Fred obtained gap financing to help transform the long-time vacant Mt. Pleasant School into a 22 unit, market rate apartment building.
FEDERAL DOLLARS FOR HEALTHCARE
Fred’s background in healthcare played an important role in the public health programs offered to City residents. During his tenure as Health and Human Services chair, Fred sponsored numerous bills to obtain millions of dollars in federal funds for the City for diabetes; sickle cell anemia and cardiovascular health services. He also obtained funding for homeless programs, lead remediation and housing for AIDS victims. In Jefferson City, Fred will be an outspoken advocate for expanded state health services.
INVESTING IN CIVIC ASSETS
Serving on the aldermanic Ways and Means Committee, as a freshman alderman, Fred quickly identified a fiscal shortcoming and saw the need for change. Very little money was targeted for capital improvements. In fact, the City had no capital improvement budget. There was little or no money available for street resurfacing, street tree replacement, dumpster replacement, park maintenance, viaducts and other public assets. Working with the budget director, Fred crafted a capital budgeting process that made sense and it was passed into law. Today, due to the ½ cent sales tax and Fred’s capital budget law, St. Louis has an improved approach to capital spending and the City has better streets, parks and other infrastructure as a result.
COMPETITIVE BIDDING-CHARTER AMENDMENT
Competitive bidding in City contracts was another concern for Fred. When Fred heard of a no-bid City contract to purchase $1 million in new telephones, he was appalled and determined to do something about it. Fred sponsored a bill to amend the City Charter to require competitive bids on all equipment, supply and material purchases. It was passed unanimously by the Board of Aldermen and overwhelmingly approved by voters. Because of Fred, no-bid contracts are now a relic of the past at City Hall.
COMPETITIVE BIDDING-PROFESSIONAL SERVICES
Fred led a special aldermanic committee investigation of professional service contracts. He saw waste and favoritism in legal, engineering and other professional service contract awards. As a result of the hearings, Fred co-sponsored a bill with then board President, Francis Slay, to clean up the way the City awards professional service contracts. The process is now transparent and competitive.
DIRECTOR OF COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
As Director of Community Development from 2014-2016, Fred implemented a transparent, competitive, data-driven process for awards of federal housing funds. These changes resulted in a process that encouraged more and better real estate proposals and allowed our dollars to generate more housing and improve our neighborhoods. One example of this is the historic Charless Home at 4401 S. Broadway. The building, vacant for several years, is about to undergo a $12 million expansion and renovation for senior living.