Ted Staton discussess his final week as East Lansing City Manager
By Scott Pohl, WKAR
EAST LANSING, MI –
After 16 years as East Lansing's City Manager, Ted Staton will spend his last day on the job October 7.
Earlier this year, he announced his resignation to take a similar position in the Columbus, Ohio suburb of Upper Arlington.
On October 16th, there will be a farewell reception for Staton at the Hannah Community Center.
Staton spoke this week with WKAR's Scott Pohl about what he had hoped to accomplish during the time between his announcement and his departure.
TED STATON: There were three primary things I wanted to focus on. One was to help the council get to a consultant to help do a search for my replacement. That's been a very deliberative process, it's been very inclusive. The council members have participated in a number of focus groups with students, university administrators, neighborhood presidents, to hear what qualities and experiences they want the next city manager to have.
We wanted to update the city's multi-year financial plan, and we've done that and we presented that to the council last week, and that's, on balance, good news. It's difficult to suggest because things aren't as bad as they might have been, that we're better off, but I think I'll leave the city in still pretty strong financial condition. That could erode over the next couple of years because of property taxes and declining state aid, but we presented that to the council last week.
And the third thing was to try to bring the City Center II project closer to a final decision. It's closer to a final decision, but we're certainly not at the point where we're pushing it over the finish line. There's still a number of conditions that the developer needs to meet before we can go forward and before a private lender would go forward, but it really is closer than it's ever been, and I'm still optimistic that I can return to East Lansing sometime in the near future to see a wrecking ball hit a few of the buildings.
SCOTT POHL: With election day coming up in a few weeks, and you departing, are you feeling comfortable at all in talking about the election? If I were an East Lansing voter and asked you for advice about the election, for instance? Three seats up for election, all three incumbents running for re-election, two challengers to those three. Are you making any public statements about what you might encourage the voters of East Lansing to do?
STATON: I'd make the same comments today that I would have made any time someone stuck a microphone in front of me, and that is look for candidate's community service resumés. What I've been impressed about East Lansing my whole 16 years is that the voters of East Lansing tend not to elect people who don't have substantial resumés of community service, and that means this isn't just a flash in the pan idea that came to them one night, but that they've prepared to serve on the community's highest and most important board. So, check out the community service that the candidates have performed, and try to judge the candidates on what they've done.
POHL: Upon your departure, Deputy Manager George Lahanas will be filling in on an interim basis as city manager. What can you tell us about him, for the people who haven't gotten acquainted with him like they have with you over the years?
STATON: Well, he's a New Yorker who decided that he was going to go to school in northern Michigan, and wondered about that decision for a while during the first winter! East Lansing resident, married, a couple young girls. He's been here for 12 years, really exceptional at labor management matters, but has been the deputy city manager for the last three years, so he's really broadened his experience. I think the city's in great interim hands, and I think George will want to be a candidate for the job permanently, and I think he should be seriously considered.
POHL: One final question for you, Ted. Since you're leaving the city of East Lansing to take a similar job at a suburb of Columbus, Ohio, who did you root for last weekend? Michigan State, or the Buckeyes?
STATON: That's a complicated question, but I'll answer it honestly. I grew up in Ohio, and for 16 years when they've played on and off at Spartan Stadium, I wore green and white to the stadium. But last Saturday, since the game was at Ohio Stadium, I was in scarlet!