New Audrain County Presiding Commissioner Alan Winders has led a life in government

By Dave Faries, Editor
Posted 9/20/21

"A young man makes choices that the older man lives with."

That's how Alan Winders sums up his place in the world. He considers his decisions early in life fortunate, for they landed him in the …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

New Audrain County Presiding Commissioner Alan Winders has led a life in government

Posted

"A young man makes choices that the older man lives with."

That's how Alan Winders sums up his place in the world. He considers his decisions early in life fortunate, for they landed him in the Audrain County presiding commissioners seat earlier this week.

Winders has been a County Commissioner since 2016. On Monday Governor Mike Parson named him to fill the post vacated when Steve Hobbs assumed Missouri Association of Counties duties.

"We've been so busy I haven't thought about it," Winders said of the governor's nomination. "It's humbling, and I'm very appreciative."

Winders grew up on a family farm near Laddonia. And while they continue to raise cattle on the land, the choice he made as a college student steered him in another direction.

"The year I turned 18 I was able to vote for Ronald Reagan," he explained. "I've always been interested in politics."

So Winders opted to study political science at what was then known as Northeast Missouri State University (Winders is still reluctant to say Truman State). Yet part of his decision was based on uncertainty. A degree in poli sci can lead to many different career paths.

It was another choice that sent Winders into local government. He found an internship with a regional planning commission.

After college, Winders ended up as city manager in Storm Lake, Iowa. He eventually moved to Ottumwa, Iowa as city administrator -- the same role under a different title.

As a city official he early on grasped the difference between government as it plays out in Washington, D.C. versus how it operates in America's communities.

"At the local level it's less about politics and more about solving problems," he explained. "It's really an opportunity to serve."

Another decision -- one to downsize, in a sense -- brought Winders back to Audrain County, closer to the family farm. He left a city of 25,000 to become the administrator for a town of 2,500.

He moved to Vandalia in 2001.

Winders says there are both similarities and differences between the goals of a city official and an elected commissioner.

"We're all looking to provide solutions," he explained. "The difference is as a county commissioner we can work from a higher visual standpoint, work on larger issues. I enjoy this work even more."

If anything frustrates Winders about service as a commissioner, it's the realization that funding is finite, that all needs cannot be met in any given budget.

"That means the most important part of the job is doing everything we can to understand what needs are the most important to address," he added.

Winders will finish Hobbs' term, set to expire in 2022.

"We are going to miss Steve Hobbs," he said. "I won't try to replace Steve, I'll do my best as Alan Winters."

As far as the choices made by his younger version, Winters says “I was lucky.”

Comments

No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here