LANSING | J. Wynsma is a Virginia native who spent several years as the day-to-day administrator of municipal government in South Holland.
After having held a similar position with Lansing village government for just over one month, Wynsma said he is feeling at home in his new hometown.
“It is really exciting for me to be here,” Wynsma said, adding he sees it as a challenge to take control of a new village government.
“The issues of being an administrator are very similar no matter what village you’re in,” he said. “The challenge is in dealing with a new group of officials.”
Not that he’s complaining about the way Lansing officials do things, but Wynsma said, “there is a lot I’m starting to learn about the structure of this village, the unions I have to deal with here.”
He also said that much of his time during his first month in the position has involved making an assessment of the code enforcement and property inspection departments to ensure they are adequately staffed.
Thus far, Wynsma’s presence has been pleasing to the Lansing Chamber of Commerce.
Executive Director Dr. Renee Hale said she likes the way Wynsma is trying to create greater ties between the village government, the Lan-Oak Park District, the elementary and high school districts, the chamber of commerce and all of the churches in Lansing.
“This is a unified approach of coordinating with and supporting each other,” Hale said. “There will be positive growth as a result.”
Wynsma was village administrator in South Holland from 2004 to 2011. He resigned from that post because he wanted to relocate his family from the south suburbs to his native Virginia.
A year later, when Village President Norm Abbott decided he wanted to restructure Lansing municipal government and hire a full-time professional manager, Wynsma and his family returned, saying at the time they missed life in the Calumet Region.
Wynsma said the change has worked out well for the family, and that he is pleased with his current status.
Not that he doesn’t think about his ties to South Holland, which he thinks can have a stronger bond with Lansing because of the proximity to each other.
Regardless, “No matter what town you’re in, issues such as staff, unions and budgets all need to be addressed,” he said.
South Holland Village President Don De Graff remains fond of his former village manager, calling him "a tremendous advocate for South Holland" when he worked for that village.
"He led in an excellent way and had excellent communications skills that made people understand exactly what he wanted to accomplish," he said.
De Graff said Wynsma "worked his way through the village to where he understood everything," when he was with South Holland, and he expects Wynsma will do the same in Lansing.
Hale, of the chamber, said she thinks Wynsma’s presence will put the Lansing village president in a stronger position because Abbott can now focus on promoting the village, rather than tending to administrative details.
“Before, the (village president) may have been more limited because he had to deal with day-to-day activities,” she said, adding that if the official can start using his (or her) influence to promote Lansing at a regional and state level, “it makes the role stand out a bit more to our advantage.”