Education: Graduate of Central High School; Bachelor of Science in Communication, University of Evansville
Resume: News Director, WEHT-TV, Henderson, Kentucky; Senior Vice President and Marketing Director, Fifth Third Bank; Vanderburgh County Council; Vanderburgh County Commission; Mayor of Evansville (2012-present)
Family: Wife Carol McClintock; daughter Danielle, son-in-law Steve, and grandsons Holden and Oliver
Lloyd Winnecke quietly hit a milestone on Jan. 1, 2022, becoming Evansville’s third-longest serving mayor. His 10 years in the city’s top office are second only to Frank F. McDonald Sr., who was mayor from 1960-1972, and Frank F. McDonald Jr., who served from 1987-2000.
Winnecke’s road to mayor wasn’t pre-ordained, but rather came about from a growing love of public service.
“I always loved covering politics and government, but because I was in the media, I couldn’t participate,” he says. “When I got to the bank, I had an opportunity to get on the county council and then run for county commissioner. I never had any designs to be mayor. None — not growing up, not when I first joined the county council. It wasn’t until Mayor (Jonathan) Weinzapfel decided he was not going to seek a third term that I decided to run.”
The Winnecke Administration has overseen several major projects, such as a water and sewer infrastructure overhaul, improvements to the Walnut Street corridor, and the creation of the Indiana University School of Medicine’s Evansville campus. While rewarding, these efforts take a lot of work on the energy level required to be mayor.
“I jokingly say I had blonde hair when I started this (job),” he says. “It’s every bit of 65 or 70 hours a week. It does take a lot of energy, but I still have the energy for it after all these years. It’s a really fulfilling job.”
Winnecke’s governing style is to lead by example. To encourage collaboration and ideation, he has served as the president of Indiana’s Association of Cities and Towns, allowing him to view problem-solving strategies on different scales. To champion investment in Downtown Evansville, he helped spearhead efforts to locate the medical school campus Downtown. In 2012, he and wife Carol McClintock became Downtown residents themselves when they moved to a loft condo at the Meridian Plaza at Main and Third streets, where they have had a front-row seat to Downtown’s resurgence as a center of activity for work and play.
“I couldn’t do this job without Carol’s love and support,” he says. “If you’re married in this job, hopefully your spouse is 100 percent supportive because they’re either going to be with you a lot or you’re going be gone a lot. Carol has a lot of good ideas, too. She says, ‘Hey, have you thought about this? Why can’t you do that?’ She keeps me really grounded.”
In consistent contact with other officials throughout Indiana, Winnecke says he has learned Evansville’s true power, a point that was driven home early in the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I was on a Zoom call with mayors from around the state. They were complaining about the lack of communication between their local units of government and health care. I was texting our association director and said, ‘I can relate to none of this,’” he says. “The level of collaboration here, I think, is much greater than it is elsewhere in the state. People around the state, I tell them all the time, ‘That’s our secret sauce,’ and that’s the phrase I use. I’d like our citizens to know that it’s not just their mayor throwing accolades out. I am, but they’re sincere, because it really is happening.”
At 61 years old, Winnecke says retirement is not in his immediate future, nor is a guaranteed run for re-election. Pointing out Evansville’s “uncharted waters” in not yet having a fourth-term mayor, he says it’s a decision he is getting closer to making.
One question he says is easy to answer?
“I frequently say that mayor is the best job I’ve ever had, but a grandfather’s the best job — being a father, being a grandfather, and then being mayor,” he says. “When we ran (for mayor) the first time in 2011, Steve and Danielle came home, and I pulled Holden in a wagon on Franklin Street, passing out apples. He went door to door with us on the East Side. They bring me great joy.”