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Leadership is nothing new for Jason Maassel, this town’s mayor.

About to finish the first 12 months of his second four-year term, Maassel, 45, is no newcomer to decision-making positions. That’s not necessarily because he’s had almost five years serving as the face of his hometown, but due to his U.S. Army days.

Straight out of the 1993 graduating class of Napoleon High School, Maassel began attending the U.S. Military Academy West Point in New York, culminating with his commission as a second lieutenant upon graduation in 1997 with a degree in cartography.

Maassel fulfilled his five-year commitment thereafter, staying for a sixth year before stepping away as a captain. He said he “enjoyed my time, but when it was time to go it was time to go.”

With no military commitments now, he has extended his service oath to his city.

“... I’ve tried to do it (service) in other ways, and with the mayor I was able to do that,” said Maassel, who was elected to his current four-year term in November 2019.

His leadership within the city government predates his mayoral tenure.

It started with him putting a toe in the water in 2012 by agreeing to apply for a vacant council seat and a 15-month unexpired term. When he was selected over one other candidate, Maassel figured he’d see how things went before deciding whether to continue with political office in the future.

“I didn’t know what to expect, but the staff was very, very nice and very understanding,” he recalled. “I tried to keep my mouth shut, and eyes and ears open as much as I could and give input when asked.”

Having enjoyed his time as a councilman, Maassel decided to give mayor a shot in 2015, winning his first four-year term in November that year.

“I was fortunate enough to win that election,” he said. “I came in and wanted to do some things for Napoleon.”

One of his first ideas was to put up new entry signs for Napoleon, and he said he also focused on economic development.

The mayor’s position in Napoleon is part-time, with the city’s day-to-day functions handled by a city manager (Joel Mazur), so Maassel is more of a team member. But he still has some important duties, one of which is promoting the city.

In this vein the city charter states that the mayor is the “ceremonial head of the city.” The mayor also sets the “agenda” for the city, offers direction on policy points, presides over ribbon cuttings, makes appointment to boards, attends council and other meetings — requiring a considerable time commitment — and is involved in economic development matters.

But the position is heavily reliant on the seven-member city council, which exercises the ultimate authority in many municipal government functions. As such, council committees are very active along with city boards and commissions.

“For us, each mayor is going to put the time in they have available,” explained Maassel. “There are some months when I do a lot of mayor’s stuff. I’ve always been of the opinion you hire really good people and then you let them do what you hire them to do. That’s worked out really good with the current administration. They all do really good jobs.”

Maassel noted that Napoleon’s system works well, particularly “with the people we have serving now.”

“People on council really work well together, and I really enjoy that part,” he said. “The system works really well. It allows me to do my 9-to-5 job and also serve the community.”

But he added that “there’s no way I could do this without my family. My wife (Shawna) and kids (Olivia, Kellen and Parker —all school-age children) are unbelievably good about this.”

Outside city government, Maassel has a career and growing resume in finance.

A financial advisor with Farmers and Merchants State Bank’s Napoleon branch for the past several years, his career in this field has been constant since 2004. He was employed by Edward Jones and Henry County Bank before taking a position with Farmers and Merchants in 2016.

When asked what he likes about his job, Maassel returns to a service orientation approach.

“I get to help people save for retirement and do some life planning,” he said. “Honestly, I just like helping people. This business has always interested me, and I’ve found a place here at the Farmers and Merchants that has the same values as I do.”

No doubt he has found a comfortable position as mayor as well. As the head of the town he grew up in, Maassel’s pride in Napoleon is evident.

He fondly recalled, for example, a scene this past March in Mansfield where Napoleon High School’s undefeated girls basketball team — playing in the regional finals — defeated Willard. Despite a longer drive, the Napoleon crowd, he said, was two to three times as large as Willard’s.

“When that game was over the majority of those fans found their way to the floor,” he said. “It was a community moment. ... We were on the floor so long the lights flashed off and on. It was such a great moment. To me, seeing that many people at an event that far away meant so much.”

His leadership in the community is evident in another way — in dealing with the coronavirus situation. As a health promotional effort, his image appeared on a billboard on Oakwood Avenue encouraging mask usage.{p class=”western”}But he also has this to say: “We’re in the middle of a fight and we don’t know how it’s going to go. The way to fight it is social distance and wear a mask. It’s no fun being in this fight, but today we’re closer than yesterday to getting a vaccine and being able to come together. So, the more we wear the mask and social distance, and do all of those things, the faster that day is going to come.”

And in putting Napoleon’s best foot forward to attract residents, businesses and families, Maassel displays his leadership by pointing out the community’s existing and expanding assets. This ranges from a good industrial/commercial base to a number of new housing options, a modern school and the construction of a new pool and golf course on Glenwood Avenue, among other things.

“There’s just a lot of really positive things going on in the City of Napoleon,” he said. “I think we work hard on relationships — all of the people that we touch — and hopefully those will continue to remain strong relationships.”

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