Commission honors outgoing Sturgis City Manager Mike Hughes  

Sturgis Mayor Jeff Mullins (left) presents an honorary proclamation to City Manager Mike Hughes, who after over 17 years of service with the city is pursuing new opportunities elsewhere. (Beca Welty | Watershed Voice)

The Sturgis City Commission bid farewell to City Manager Mike Hughes, who has served Sturgis for over 17 years, at its regular meeting Wednesday. Hughes is pursuing a new career with a local company, and the city is actively looking for Hughes’ successor.

Mayor Jeff Mullins led the meeting with an honorary proclamation for Hughes, presenting him with a plaque and from it reading, “Whereas Michael L Hughes has served the Sturgis City Commission for 21 years from July 1999 to February 20, 2003 as assistant to the city manager, assistant city manager, and interim city manager, and then from 2005 to 2023 as City Manager. And whereas Michael has worked on a number of projects that have transformed the City of Sturgis during this time.” 

Mullins went on to recognize the various city enterprises Hughes led including the completion of the US-12 downtown streetscape, the Spence Softball Complex, the movement of the depot building, and various park improvements. Mullins continued by acknowledging the several significant business investments and economic development projects Hughes led listing Moso Village, Dresser Business Park infrastructure, Heartland and Cruiser RV, and countless other business expansions. 

Hughes was additionally recognized for his role in maintaining a fiscally stable and healthy organization for the City of Sturgis. Hughes was credited with working alongside the commission to stabilize utility funds, handle the difficulties of the 2008 economic downturn, and address challenges such as the impact of other post-employment benefits. Mullins added that Hughes also received the Executive of the Year Award by the Michigan Municipal Executives during his tenure, “which we were very proud of to have him serving our community at that particular time.” 

When the floor was opened for comments from other commissioners and board members, Attorney T.J. Reed of Bird, Scheske, Reed & Beemer, P.C., which provides legal services for both Sturgis and Three Rivers, reflected on his time spent serving alongside Hughes. “Mike’s been really good to work with, he makes our job a lot easier. Mike definitely checks all the boxes, as does his staff and his team around him.” Various other officials echoed this sentiment, adding that Hughes’ presence will be greatly missed in the coming months. 

Mullins had the final word in closing comments regarding Hughes’ departure saying, “The proclamation read tonight only brought out a few of the things I know that happened under your leadership in the last 17 years, and I couldn’t have listed it all because I’d still be reading if they were. We very much appreciate you and what you’ve done. Enjoy time with your family, and enjoy your new job.”

Assistant City Manager Andrew Kuk will serve as city manager in the interim beginning on January 20, and has expressed interest in succeeding Hughes should he be offered the post. The next city manager will be appointed by the nine-member city commission, and candidates must be experienced with finance, budgeting, intergovernmental relations, infrastructure management, and union management.

The deadline to apply is January 27, and those interested in the position are encouraged to submit a resume, cover letter, and professional references to Kenneth D. Rhodes, Sturgis city clerk and treasurer, at [email protected].

Beca Welty is a staff writer and columnist for Watershed Voice.