Fouts: ‘The best is yet to come’

Retirement party held for outgoing Warren mayor, successor to be elected Nov. 7

By: Gena Johnson | Warren Weekly | Published November 3, 2023

 Jim Fouts served 16 years as Warren’s mayor and 27 years on the City Council.

Jim Fouts served 16 years as Warren’s mayor and 27 years on the City Council.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


WARREN — Several hundred supporters and well-wishers gathered in the Larsa Palace Banquet Center on Old 13 Mile Road Nov. 2 for Warren Mayor James Fouts’ retirement party after more than 43 years as an elected official.

Fouts served 16 years as mayor and 26 years on the Warren City Council.

“I never thought I would be mayor,” Fouts said. “I never thought I would be a councilman.”

Fouts started his professional career as an educator teaching government, history and driver’s education in the Warren Consolidated School District, and his entry into politics was initially uneventful.

“I ran for state rep three times and lost three times,” Fouts said. “My mother said, ‘Find another office.’”

In 1981, Fouts found another office and ran for Warren City Council.

Arv Pikunas, who had Fouts for driver’s education in 1981, volunteered to work on his campaign.

“I helped (Fouts) on his first campaign. We’d knock on doors. He’d be on one side of the street. I would be on the other,” said Pikunas. “We did that for many, many, many hours and weeks. We went to the primary, then the (general) elections and many elections after that.”

Pikunas admired his driver’s ed instructor and more than 40 years later still maintains a relationship with the mayor. Fouts credits Pikunas for helping him to bring City Council meeting broadcasts to Warren.

“I may not agree with everything he has ever done. I always thought he was a good person in his heart, who was in it to win it and dedicated to his job 24/7,” said Pikunas, vice president of manufacturing at Schaller Corp. in Chesterfield Township, where he has worked for 35 years. “I really wanted to support someone like that.”

For Fouts, a self-described public servant, retirement has not come easy.

“My job is my life,” Fouts said. “My passion is serving and protecting Warren citizens.”

Fouts is not a candidate in the election because a court order in the spring of 2023 removed him from the primary ballot due to term limits. It started in 2016, when Warren residents voted to extend the mayor’s term limits to five four-year terms or 20 years. In 2020, residents voted to limit the mayor’s term limits to reflect other elected officials’ term limits of three terms or 12 years. At issue, according to the mayor, was that the 2020 proposal and charter change had no mention of retroactivity, meaning whether previous terms served would be counted in the new term limits. It was that which made the mayor and his team believe he was eligible to run in 2023.

“A lot of people have come up to me and said, ‘Congratulations on your retirement,’” Fouts said.

“That’s not my idea. My idea is working at my desk and one day that’s it.  They carry me off.”

“My dad said, people should retire in their 20s and 30s and travel. Then work until they die,” Fouts said.

This attitude contributed to the Fouts’ work ethic. Many of the elected public officials and administration appointees, who spoke at the event, mentioned how he calls them early in the morning or late at night, wherever they may be.

“I never worked for a more dedicated mayor and that’s 24/7. You called me at 6:30 in the morning. You called me 10 minutes to 12 (midnight) on New Year’s Eve. You called me while I was in Florida on vacation,” said Warren Fire Commissioner Wilburt “Skip” McAdams. “It was always about doing something that needs to be taken care of in the city of Warren.”

“We have the best EMS. We have the best fire department. And we have accomplished that goal,” McAdams said.

Warren Police Commissioner William Dwyer has been in law enforcement for more than six decades and has worked with a host of mayors, including Jerome P. Cavanagh and Coleman A. Young.

“When I look at mayors, Mayor James Fouts is the best. He supports the men and women in blue,” Dwyer said.

“This is very important for you to know. There are a lot of mayors out there that tell their chiefs to tell their men and women in blue just go ahead and park somewhere, I don’t want to see you doing the work,” Dwyer said. “The mayor (Fouts) wants his men and women out there working. And they are working. There are too many (police) men and women in this country who are not allowed to do their jobs. They are not allowed to go and arrest criminals.”

The mayor listed several things he would like to see happen in Warren city government during the next administration. The list includes approving the Warren Town Center project and updating the language of the city charter. He’d like to see future mayors-elect take office in January for a smooth transition of city appointees. Also, he would like to see environmental programs that address global warming and clean air in every city building.

The mayor reiterated he did not accomplish the administration’s goals by himself and thanked many people including his staff and his executive assistant, Amanda Mika, who he referred to as “my right-hand woman.”

Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller spoke about her history with Fouts that began long before her current position.

“I was honored to come and speak to your class several times when you were a government teacher,” Miller said.

“There is a big election on Tuesday and big shoes to fill,” Miller said.

Many in attendance were waiting to hear what is next for Fouts.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” the mayor said. “I promise you this: You haven’t heard the last of Jim Fouts. The best is yet to come.”