Note: This article is part of a new series “Inspiring Communities.” This is the second installment following the article about Arctic Heating & Cooling owner Evert Bek “Installing water filters in Haiti.”
Nominate a person who has inspired you.
Former Lowell mayor Jim Hodges retires
By Emma Palova
Lowell, MI – After 23 years of public service, former Lowell mayor Jim Hodges has decided it is time to move on. He officially retired from the Lowell City Council on Nov. 6, 2017.
He started his successful career in public service in 1982 as the director of YMCA, which at the time functioned as the city recreational department.
“A connection with the city was established,” he said, “I attended meetings.”
In 1991, Hodges became the chairperson for the Lowell Area Schools millage campaign. He helped pass two millage proposals.
He applied for the city council seat in 1988, and he was elected to two four-year terms. In 1997, he was defeated in an election by 20 votes. Hodges took a break from the Lowell City Council for six years.
In 2004, he became a city council member all over again after being asked to run by Jeanne Shores, who became the mayor twice through 2009. Shores was the only female mayor the city of Lowell has ever had.
“Because of my loyalty and friendship, I encouraged Jeanne to run,” Hodges said.
“I have always encouraged women to run. It’s crazy not to. Everybody needs to be involved in politics to get a better balance and diversity in the society. Otherwise you’re cutting your assets in half.”
Due to Shores’ sickness, Hodges became the acting mayor in 2008.
All throughout his public service, Hodges believed in respecting others opinions and diversity.
“I have three big takeaways from my public service,” he said.
The first takeaway was to pay tribute to Shores; Hodges arranged for her to run her last meeting on Dec. 21 in 2009 from a wheelchair and named her mayor emeritus.
The second takeaway was negotiating for Dave Pasquale, manager of 23 years, to take retirement.
The third takeaway was putting a traffic light at the intersection of Bowes Road and Alden Nash.
“As the mayor, you have to be less bold and more proper than as a council member,” he said.
In an era of corrupt politics and improper behavior of various officials, Hodges was one of a kind. He was always diplomatic and smiling his impeccable smile.
Public service came with the good and the bad: the deaths of mayor emeritus Shores and council member Jim Hall, as well as the clash between the personalities on the city council.
There were some controversies during the more than two decades of service in a relatively quiet community on the banks of the Flat and Grand rivers.
Some pertained to the firing of the previous city manager Mark Howe. Other controversies involved the police chiefs; one had resigned, the other chief Steve Bukala was put on first paid administrative leave in April, and on unpaid leave in June as investigation into misusing police database and subsequent charges took place.
Since, then Bukala has been reinstated.
“It will make him a better police chief,” said Hodges. “It adds another dimension of being a better professional. We have a solid team of people working together. Steve brings leadership to them as we move forward.”
Hodges had the vision to locate the chamber building on the current Riverwalk in downtown Lowell.
And would Mr. Hodges do it all over again?
“Absolutely,” he said smiling. “I would like to think that I have helped. I like a variety of people and this has given me the chance to meet many different people.”
Hodges also takes pride in being able to balance his third shift work at Amway with his public service which included meetings in the evening or in the morning.
“You have to be disciplined,” he said.
He plans on traveling with his wife Chris and enjoying their grandson.
“I hope I have added some humor and entertainment,” he said.
Following are some moments in time from Hodges’ tenure with the city of Lowell. Hodges participated in countless city parades and in the Riverwalk flushing of the city manager.
A Loyal public servant.
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