SM Candidate Ude: Run Government Like a Smart Business

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Ken Ude
Ken Ude

It’s a familiar refrain: the government ought to be run like a business.
Ken Ude, in his bid for City Council, hasn’t shied away from that moniker and touts his business credentials as setting him apart from his competitors.
“I’m getting a lot of positive feedback to the message and my experience,” he said, reflecting on how his campaign has gone. “It’s been fun to get out there and meet people and confirm a bunch of things about what’s important and what people are thinking about.”
Ude is one of seven candidates for the three open spots on the five-member City Council. The election will be held Nov. 7.
Having lived in San Marino since 1986, Ude’s career has placed him at the helm of six private equity-backed companies, starting with Rain Bird Sprinkler Manufacturing. At those companies, Ude said he was typically tasked with bringing them back into profitability.
Those skills, Ude said, lend themselves well to a local government position that manages the budgets for several departments.
“When you’re running a business, you’re used to things like capital improvements and equipment maintenance,” he said. “I think the unfunded pension liability kind of slipped through our fingers, too.
“In an operating business, overtime means bad things are happening,” Ude added. “The city’s operating payroll is about $17-$18 million and in that, there’s more than a million dollars of overtime. I think there’s an opportunity there.”
Ude, born in Pasadena, was raised in San Jose and earned all three of his degrees from USC from 1974 through 1981. He and his wife raised three daughters in San Marino and have grandchildren at local schools. Ude has volunteered extensively with San Marino Schools Foundation and also San Marino Community Church.
Since he’s moved here, Ude said the city’s demographics have changed but the spirit of the community has not. The financial barriers of living in San Marino, Ude said, mean that most of its residents tend to be smart, successful and nice people. He said he saw as much at the various meetings he’s held for his campaign.
“I think that’s kind of good news,” he said. “It means the core values of the community have remained pretty intact. The look and feel of neighborhoods and the priority of education has been a constant over the 30 years.
“Everybody was talking about how important it was for everyone to come together and stay together,” Ude added, on his most recent event. “Over the years as the balances shift, the core of what makes San Marino special has remained. That’s a focus that’s going to have to continue. If you look at the demographics of San Marino, there are a lot of older folks in town. Those homes are going to be sold eventually and new people are going to be moving into the community.”

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