New city manager looking to bring fresh perspective to Shores

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published September 11, 2013

 City Manager Phillip Ludos sits in his office Sept. 5.

City Manager Phillip Ludos sits in his office Sept. 5.

Photo by Kristyne E. Demske

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — A week into the position, new City Manager Phillip Ludos said he is looking for his service in St. Clair Shores to be the pinnacle of his career.

“What you’ll find is, I bring to the table a very diverse background,” he said.

Ludos, 67, came to St. Clair Shores from his position as the assistant city manager — public safety for the city of Saginaw, where he oversaw about half of the employees in the city (400) and was responsible for about 70 percent of the budget. Prior to that, he was the director of public safety in Greenacres, Fla.; chief of police in Cocoa, Fla.; deputy chief and chief of police in Inkster; chief of police in Memphis, Mich.; and also chief of police for the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians in Petoskey.

“I bring a very broad base of understanding of how government operates,” he said.

His experience the past 15 years in municipal government accustomed him to coming into a job to fix a mess left by someone else. That isn’t the case in St. Clair Shores.

“This is a municipality that has an incredible reputation,” he said.

Ludos said he hopes to bring a fresh perspective to the job, and wants to work with the mayor and council to make things better for the citizens of the community.

“That has to be your focus: customer service, making it better where it needs to be made better,” he said.

He appreciates the diversity of City Council’s background and that its members are so involved in various projects around the city. He said he expects to meet with the mayor on a weekly basis.

“I need to work closely with that elected body to make happen what they feel needs to happen,” he said. “I’m the person responsible for how the operation goes, so I need to make sure all that goes together, also.”

While he is still commuting from his home in Hartland, Mich., Ludos said he is working with an agent to find a condominium or apartment within 20 miles of the city, as spelled out in his contract. While he and his wife don’t plan to sell their home in Hartland, he said they are looking forward to spending time in the city.

Growing up in Michigan, he said he always heard good things about the St. Clair Shores and Grosse Pointe areas. The unique qualities of the area make it marketable, he said, and that is what he hopes to share as he tries to expand the city’s commercial base and bring in new residents.

Ludos feels the surge in enrollment in the city’s three school districts can only be good for the city.

“There’s got to be something attractive about the school districts here … that are drawing people to choose that,” he said. “They may be commuting … but they’re in our community, and it gives us the opportunity to capture tax dollars.”

Ludos appreciates the way St. Clair Shores is working against blight by assessing each property to see what can be salvaged or rehabilitated to improve the neighborhood, and he said those clean neighborhoods and new businesses should make the city more attractive to young families looking to move.

Learning from other communities what works, and what doesn’t, is key, Ludos said.

“I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly, so let’s be sure we don’t ever get ugly,” he said. “This is just an incredible city. It’s got so much to offer, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to be able to add to that with anything I can bring to the table.”

Ludos was welcomed to his first City Council meeting Sept. 3 by many members and Mayor Kip Walby.

“We’ll try not to be too hard on you,” Walby quipped.

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