Jefferson City Counselor Ryan Moehlman applies his critical thinking and problem-solving skills daily. Approaching his three-year anniversary with the city, Moehlman is not afraid to dive deep into any problems or obstacles that may arise.
"The position of a city attorney is a problem solver," Moehlman said.
In his role, Moehlman offers legal advice to the mayor, City Council and city staff. He also takes their ideas and turns a "no" into a potential project.
"The thing that is important to me and something that was taught to me by my mentors is, it's important to not just say no," he said. "Lots of times, people will say, 'Hey, can we do this?' and the way they describe it, oftentimes, the answer is 'No, we can't do that' for whatever reason. The important thing in practicing municipal law is to not end the conversation at no."
A Kansas City native, he received a bachelor's degree in journalism from Missouri State University. While enrolled in a few legal courses, he noticed the two fields required similar skills — writing and critical thinking.
"Law was actually not the plan," Moehlman said. "The plan was to become a world-famous journalist in investigating and uncovering the truth."
After receiving a law degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, he pursued years of private practice in municipal law.
"Over the course of my private career, I represented over 70 different municipalities in Missouri, Kansas and Illinois," Moehlman said.
Having one client allows him to focus on details on a deeper level and see projects through.
"In private practice oftentimes, you're called in to fix a certain problem. A very discrete, definable problem and then you leave. You don't really see that implemented oftentimes. When you're in-house, you can see a project through from its inception all the way through its implementation. You can really dig in and help make one community the best that it can be to the extent that it can in my role."
Making those goals a reality is one of the best parts of the job, Moehlman said.
"Being a problem solver and being someone that can help take ideas and move them into a reality, that's what I enjoy," he said. "The process, the problem solving and being able to enjoy the fruits of the work at the end."
A current project that makes him proud is the city's redevelopment with Missouri State Penitentiary. The city owns 31.28 acres of MSP between the historic site and Chestnut Street, which includes some right-of-way areas and the old prison shoe factory.
Once the project is complete, Moehlman is looking forward to the ribbon-cutting.
"While that is still ongoing, we've enjoyed lots of unprecedented successes in pursuit of that project. The ability to negotiate an agreement with the state to transfer ownership of a portion of MSP to the city was something that I was very proud of. I think (that) served as an important milestone in redevelopment and reorganization of MSP, and I really looking forward to seeing that project through and being able to share the results of that project with the public at large."
Living in Jefferson City has allowed Moehlman, his wife, Laura, and their children, Heidi, 7, and Calvin, 3, to be part of a tight-knit community they can call home.
They attend Trinity Lutheran Church, holiday festivals and parades.
His advice to Jefferson City residents is to gain a basic understanding of what their ward representatives do and what services the city government can provide.
"Most peoples' interaction with government is likely with municipal government," Moehlman said. "I think it can be beneficial to residents to understand the things that the municipal government does and the ways they go about providing services to the public. That way, if they have a problem, they know the appropriate people to contact and the things that the city can do for them."