Tonight marks the end of an era. After 23 years of service, Jim Hodges will attend his very last meeting as a Lowell City Council member.
Hodges’s retirement means the city not only loses a trusted public servant but also will see the bulk its institutional memory disappear. With the exception of Police Chief Steve Bukala who has been at his post since 2013, all other city leadership — from city council members to the city manager to major department heads — have been in their positions for fewer than two years. That means the departure of Hodges will leave a significant gap when it comes to understanding the history of city policies and evolution of various initiatives.
However, we’re sure the man who says he likes “to Meijer” — that is, chat about local issues with residents he meets while shopping — will also be happy to chat with new council members who may have questions in the future.
Residents are invited to stop by City Hall this evening (November 6, 2017) to say good-bye to Hodges and enjoy some light refreshments prior to his final council meeting. The festivities begin at 6pm.
In the meantime, let’s stroll down memory lane and take a look at what makes Jim Hodges one of our more colorful and beloved city leaders.
It was 1989 when Jim Hodges was a fresh-faced addition to the Lowell City Council. He would serve from 1989-1997 and again from 2004-2017. He was Mayor Pro Tem in 2008 and took over the mayor’s gavel when the late C. Jeanne Shores — Lowell’s first and only female mayor — stepped down for health reasons. From 2009-2015, he filled the mayor’s seat. Last year, in anticipation of his retirement from the council, he decided it was time to turn over the title of mayor to someone new.
While City Council has seen many people come and go, one person has remained a constant presence on the board. Exhibit A is this photo from 2010. Only one person shown here (that would be Hodges in the middle) would still be on the council come 2017. Even while working third shifts at Amway, Hodges made service to the city a priority.
While Hodges took his position on City Council seriously, the same couldn’t be said for all aspects of his life.
He was quite happy to dress in drag for a good cause such as Relay for Life.
Or take his turn in the “flush tank” during the Riverwalk Festival (shown here with fellow good sport, former City Manager Dave Pasquale).
Hodges has been a keen supporter of all things Lowell, including Pink Arrow Pride. (Again, you’ll notice the lone stalwart from this photo is Hodges.)
He’s also a bit of a romantic, shown here recording a CD of songs for his wife Chris on the occasion of their 40th anniversary.
We’re not sure what Councilmember Hodges will do with his newfound free time, but we can imagine. Not one to rest too long on his laurels (or recliner), we hear his plans include traveling with his wife and doting on his new grandson among other things.
Congratulations Jim Hodges on your retirement from the council and thank you for 23 years of faithful service. We send our best wishes for wherever life takes you next!