2022 Meet the Hudson Candidates
Get to know the candidates this season by reviewing our quick reference page. Each candidate's response is under each question to allow our community to compare the responses provided.
If you are interested in a candidate's answer to a specific question, simply click the + icon next the candidate's name to reveal their answer.
Spring Elections are schedule April 5, 2022. Find more information at https://hudsonwi.gov/227/Elections.
What will be your top three priorities if elected and why?
My top priority is the safety and welfare of all of our residents as well as the safety of those who visit Hudson. Top of mind is always making our community safer and I have worked hard to achieve that goal. In the past six years we have added four police officers, a drug detective and a community outreach officer to our police force. We have built a new more centrally located fire station to provide quicker response times for getting our firefighters to where they are needed. Our EMS (ambulance) service was transitioned to Lakeview EMS a more consistently staffed organization. By ding so we took the burden of paying for an ambulance service off the backs of our taxpayers while cutting the response times in half thereby saving lives.
Keeping taxes low is another priority of mine. Everyone recognizes that we have to pay taxes to pay for services that are provided to us. But the expectation is that our government officials will tax us wisely and spend our tax dollars efficiently. Taxing our residents is a serious issue and should not be taken lightly. Higher taxes and rising inflation work in tandem to erode the ability of many people, seniors in particular, to afford their homes whether they own or rent. Most of my conversations lately have centered on just that issue. I have worked hard with our Administrator, Department Heads and the Council to keep our taxes below the cost-of-living increases, to focus on needs instead of wishes and to find other sources to fund City projects.
Maintaining our infrastructure is also a top priority. Local government is literally where the “rubber meets the road.” I will deal with this more fully in the question below relating to Infrastructure.
Though I have prioritized concerns, ideas and project visions, I also recognize that the mayor in a city such as ours is not the Boss who tells people what to do, but rather the bridge from one entity in a community to many others. As mayor, these priorities therefore need to be not MY vision, but OUR vision. Subsequently they are subject to gathering opinions and information!
Therefore, while I prioritize these issues for Chamber Businesses, (downtown and throughout the city), I also recognize that neither I nor any mayor should be making promises regarding what will and won’t get done, and how. (I believe this should be true of any public servant setting priorities!) Ironically, this often gets in the way of true progress.
I have much to learn and will do so in good faith to help create lasting solutions. I recognize that this list and these answers can and will be dynamic in nature. (Please understand that this is NOT a comprehensive list of what I hope to be part of as Mayor; some of my other initiatives, hopes and ideas for Hudson are not listed here. I am strictly adhering to the questions asked at the candidates forum!)
I may not surprise you therefore, to know that Priority one is to take time to listen and learn from the people in the community. We are fortunate to have many knowledgeable professionals working in our city management, hundreds of successful entrepreneurs running their own businesses in our community and these, as well as other citizens, who are planning for a sustainable future. I want to gather ideas from those with experience, expertise and creativity.
Priority two is to fund the library in a fair and sustainable way, which, according to those who know most about it, is to pay a county tax like residents of other cities, municipalities and towns do. This is very attainable as much work has been done on this and we could be close to fulfilling it. A library can be the measure of a city for some, along with schools and a viable downtown.
Priority Three (Out of sheer necessity and timing in terms of attaining funding), would have to be infrastructure issues, which are intertwined with transportation issues. To help our downtown face continued growth in visitors, population and street/foot traffic, we need to address the streets, roads, parking spaces and how people travel them, and make sure to have an eye on accessibility and ADA standards when doing so.
There are some interesting schools of thought on funding some of this with transportation utility fees and a proposed wheel tax, but as is true of many other funding issues, we are dependent on and restricted by Wisconsin laws, and these may not even be an option moving forward. (This is subject to current legislative cycles in our state government, and is an example of how/why a mayor may not have quite as much control over funding sources as constituents may think).
There are environmental issues that tie into this as well, and it is a priority within this priority that they will be woven in throughout this discussion.
My top three priorities are infrastructure, communications, and beautification/walk-ability. In terms of infrastructure, we have kicked the can down the road for a while. These decisions had their valid reasons for the time, but now it is time for us to really put a hard focus on our infrastructure be it roads, bridges, water/sewer pipes and more. I think similar to infrastructure, we have neglected effective communications to the community. Covid really shined a light on our lack of communications as a city and I would really like to see talent brought into the city to help us develop and manage our communications. Lastly, we need to put a focus on beautification and walk-ability. I want citizens to feel safe and explore our city on foot or on a bike. We do a pretty darn good job of this downtown, but in high traffic areas we need to do a better job. Part of Hudson being a hidden gem to travelers driving through the interstate, is that we have this beautiful and historic downtown that you would not otherwise know by looking at our town on the hill as you are passing by on the interstate.
If elected to a third term, my first priority is to improve roads using the 1.5 million dollars we will receive from the American Rescue Plan. Our city engineer’s study has shown that our road quality is decreasing, so we need to invest more now just to maintain our roads. One specific need is to widen the 11th Street Bridge to create better traffic flow. Traffic will only increase as our city continues to grow. In addition, WISDOT will be working on the Carmichael Bridge in the future, so we need to avoid having both bridges under construction at the same time.
My second priority is to stabilize library funding by removing it from the city tax roll and having St. Croix County levy it. This will make funding more equitable for our partner communities and more stable in the future for our users.
My third priority is to support more affordable housing so that our hard working police officers and teachers can afford to live in our city.
One final priority is to explore creating a splash pad for families either at Weitkamp Park or perhaps the YMCA. River Falls has one and it is a great resource for families to enjoy.
Finally, I will continue to be a responsible steward of tax dollars by making sound financial decisions for our city.
My top three priorities focus on the core responsibilities of city government. Public safety is a top priority, which would include supporting the police department with staffing, training and equipment. Our police chief and officers face many challenges each day, helping to keep the people of Hudson safe. I’m pleased that our officers have had Crisis Intervention Training, which helps them to recognize and respond to someone in a mental health crisis. Providing specialized training requires money, time and facility space. Supporting a top notch police department requires an ongoing commitment from the city of Hudson.
My second priority is regarding infrastructure in Hudson, which would include both streets and parks. Proper repair and maintenance of streets is vital for all businesses and residents. There are several major projects in the near future that would affect traffic flow in Hudson, and I believe the city should play a stronger role in managing those projects, even if Wisconsin DOT is involved. The delays and difficulties during the 2021 2nd Street construction project caused undue hardship on local businesses as well as tourism activities.
I also would work to improve the existing Hudson parks with new walking paths and playground equipment. I am interested in the potential of developing Lakefront Park further to the north, to allow more connection of bike and pedestrian paths.
My third priority is to focus on careful spending during this time of economic uncertainty. It’s important for businesses and residents alike that we spend our tax dollars wisely. While property values have gone up, residents on a fixed income may have difficulty affording their property taxes. I don’t want to see people priced out of their homes by increased property taxes.
The entire property tax bill is complex. It can be affected by recent property assessment changes as well as spending by other local agencies, such as Hudson School District and St. Croix County.
My background as a business owner, managing budgets and controlling expenses, will help me to make those difficult decisions of how to spend our tax dollars.
Because I will be a new member to the Council, my first priority will be to continue to survey and listen to my constituents and to grow my understanding of what issues we need to address with the council that specifically concern our new district.
My second priority would be to examine all the infrastructure, park, city services, and public safety needs that are in front of us currently and in the future, and to help prioritize them. With every decision I make; cost, need, value, and common sense will steer me as we work together to determine our priorities
Finally, I look forward to being a part of a fresh chapter to the city council – let’s put the pandemic behind us and bring down the temperature of our local politics and do the work that needs to be done– I look forward to spirited debates over issues that matter to our city, but only by showing grace and understanding to all points of view. We have a TON of diverse talent in this city…Let’s support and collaborate with each other and leave all egos and past grumblings behind.
How do your priorities specifically impact Hudson businesses and tourism?
A safe community is essential for businesses to flourish. Whether residents or visitors people need to feel safe when they venture out. People will travel to do their business in a safe environment. I believe that is vital to our business community.
Keeping taxes in line means businesses can afford to locate and stay here. It also means more discretionary dollars in our locals’ pockets to get out and enjoy what businesses have to offer.
Keeping our roads, water and sewers working is also critical to a quality business environment.
As a community we need to envision a sustainable future. Sustainable can be seen not only as an environmental issue, but in terms of how we plan for a future that balances the needs of our citizens with the idea that we have become and will continue to be a vacation destination for increasing numbers of tourists. Through the lens of the aforementioned top priority, I would like to take time to hear and disseminate how those involved are imagining this will look going forward. I hear conflicting thoughts on this growth and would like to hear more about those differing points of view.
My second priority, and the effect it may have on tourism and business really has primarily the citizens of Hudson in mind, as our library is a central community entity and gathering place, and needs to continue to exist and be accessible to all. As stated previously, a library is a measure of a community, and ours practices innovative programming and strives to constantly improve, and its very existence actually brings regular visitors to our downtown, and surrounding businesses. It has the potential to do so even more, if properly funded. It is not as high on some lists of priorities as other pending projects that are more visible and perhaps profitable. But through the unending work and expertise of our library director, Shelley Tougas, we are very close to what might be a simple and lasting funding solution for this beautiful and important anchor of our downtown.
The third priority on the list is attention to infrastructure. This is a top 3 priority because it has been neglected for too long, and is now in need of immediate attention. This may be a symptom of a desire to keep taxes low, or to direct tax dollars (again) toward more visible projects (i.e.) development etc. Obviously to maintain a viable downtown as well as business district “up on the hill”, we need to have infrastructure that is in good repair, and traffic patterns, parking and aesthetics that will enhance tourists/citizens experiences, (or at least not deter them from exploring our city!) I hope to bring conversation, innovation and collective creativity to the process of finding solutions and the repairs we make to our infrastructure.
This will include exploring and hopefully bringing some environmentally sound infrastructure practices and programs already being employed by many cities in our area at this time. While we explore these options, keeping an an eye on environmental issues can sometimes bring into play more state or federal money to assure sustainable solutions.
The draw to the community is largely due to our historic downtown district. The chamber, business owners and our development staff have all done a fantastic job with our downtown district. How do we take that historic and walkability to the hill? It all starts with having a vision that incorporates walkability and beautification.
I have already voted to create two Tax Incremental Financing Districts in Hudson, one in St. Croix Meadows and one downtown. Both of these districts offer tax incentives for businesses to make new investments and stimulate economic development.
My emphasis on fixing infrastructure is important for our business community, as people need functioning roads and sewers in order to get to and frequent businesses. Many people don’t realize that some of our sewers downtown are over 120 years old and in need of upgrades in order to avert problems in the future.
My priority on creating affordable housing also positively impacts businesses. It is easier to hire employees if they can afford to live in our community instead of depending on people who live in the Twin Cities.
My desire to build a splash pad would help keep families in our town during the summertime. I’ve met families who tell me they drive to River Falls or Woodbury during the summer to use their splash pads. Not only will this be a great addition for our Hudson families to enjoy, it can help to attract visitors to come to Hudson to spend summer days.
Finally, I helped write the new charter for the Hudson Diversity Committee, whose mission is to ensure that our city is an open, inclusive, and diverse place to live, work, and visit. Embracing diversity will be a huge boon for tourism and business by making Hudson an inviting and attractive community for more people from the Twin Cities to visit.
I want to see Hudson continue to thrive as a great place to live and work. The council needs to focus on its basic role in city government, which is providing for public safety and maintaining our infrastructure. Planning for safe traffic flow and enhancing key intersections makes it easier to access businesses for customers and employees. It’s important that we provide adequate downtown parking for visitors to enjoy our shops, restaurants, and tourism events.
Lakefront Park is a main attraction within our city, and I support further improvements so residents and visitors can enjoy it fully. We also need to focus on our neighborhood parks that provide green space and a place to meet and enjoy the outdoors.
If we keep our focus on these vital areas, we allow business and tourism to prosper. People want to live, work and find recreation in a city that is safe and well maintained. I want to focus on what we all have in common and that benefits all of Hudson.
Tourism is one of the top products we “produce” in Hudson. All of our business depend on not just the local dollar, but the dollars that come here from those who visit our unique downtown, walk along the river and other parks, and enjoy our many restaurants, bars, music scene and hotels. Only by having decent streets, an accessible river front, safe and enjoyable spaces, happy workers, and a welcoming vibe, can this city continue to be the place where people want to come back, shop, and recommend to others. I will always aim to keep the city as welcoming, clean, and memorable for tourist, so that we locals can also enjoy our amenities and be proud of where we live.
What is your vision for the Hudson area?
We are truly blessed to live in such a wonderful town. The unique charm of our City, especially our downtown area is what makes Hudson Hudson. It all begins with the fact that we are a Rivertown. I have always embraced that fact even when I was a young kid who did not live here. There is a romanticism to rivertowns. My vision is to emphasize and enhance our identity as a rivertown. This spring we will be raising our boat launch to provide better access to the river for our residents and guests. Three of the last five years flooding kept our boat launch closed for more than half the boating season. Raising the launch will provide access even when the water is slightly above flood level. We will also install a hose down area to keep boaters from spreading invasive species to other bodies of water. Additionally we will be constructing a “Boardwalk” on the water between the dike and the boat launch that will be below the wall. This will be disabled accessible, will provide fishing and tie alongs to bring boaters into Hudson. We have received $650,000 in state grants for both of these enhancements. The remainder of the cost will paid with the City’s Increment form the Tax Increment Finance District downtown. That Increment money must by law be spent only in that specific Tax Increment District. Taxes will not be increased to pay for these, nor will General Fund money be used to pay for the projects. We are and wll continue to be the crown jewel of the St. Croix/ Mississippi Valley.
I also envision Hudson becoming a focal point for medical care. With the Hudson Physicians moving to their new site on Carmichael I see great opportunity in making this and adjoining property a Medical and Healthcare campus. That combined with our Hudson Hospital and future Mayo Clinic presence we could become a regional healthcare hub.
I visualize a vibrant community that celebrates the commitments made and risks taken by long time citizens, while welcoming new, diverse, equitable ideas, and new citizens.
I hope to mobilize our citizens as a united force to make a better future for all. That is taking into consideration the wisdom of the ages, the creativity and energy of the young and the innovation of all those in between, in empowering all people.
Together we will revitalize a collective belief in the power of government of, by and for the people. (Civilized discourse and Democracy).
And realize our true potential as a community who can engage and govern together, and lift each other up.
I don’t really have an earth-shattering vision except to say that I would love us to continue opening our community to the river and to build on the success of our downtown district in other areas within the city.
I am a big believer that the common good is essential to creating a strong community. I envision a Hudson where people in neighborhoods and across the city work together to move our city forward. Remember last September when straight-line winds hit Hudson and overturned trees, tore the roof off our beach house, and damaged the library? Our community rallied the next morning picking up broken glass, downed trees, and reaching out to help neighbors. This is my view of Hudson, a town where we care about each other and are willing to help each other out.
I also envision a Hudson that enjoys a balance between small town charm and convenient services needed for a growing community. I envision our residents enjoying our natural outdoor beauty by using an extended trail running north of Lakefront Park to North Hudson as well as a boardwalk dock on the St. Croix River in Lakefront Park. I envision more environmentally friendly options like electric plug stations for electric cars in our future. Finally, I envision a more ethnically diverse community that will enrich us as we continue to grow.
Hudson is a wonderful town, with so many unique qualities. We want to welcome all to our community, fostering a sense of belonging for everyone. While I am currently seeking an elected role on the City Council, I think it’s important to highlight the many non-profit organizations that make Hudson a special place. Not all the concerns of a growing town can be met by the city government, so we should continue to encourage the role of our citizen-led organizations.
The recently adopted Comprehensive Plan lays out options for our future as Hudson continues to grow. We need to work together in making the decisions that affect that growth, not just in size or in population, but in services and amenities our town can offer.
Due to our current boundaries, there are a limited number of land parcels available for further development within the city. The option to annex additional land requires the landowner and a possible developer to approach the city. It is vital that we carefully consider such options, balancing the needs of our growing town with the needs of adjacent property owners.
I want to focus on the things that we have in common in Hudson. We all want to live in a safe, well maintained city.
My vision for the Hudson area is one that remains true to our river town heritage, grows with business and families in a smart and controlled manner, respects all individual’s freedoms, and restores a strong sense of community which welcomes, supports, and truly respects all residents.
Infrastructure in Hudson is in critical condition and required improvements are not fiscally possible with the current budget. Please explain how this happened, what strategies you would implement besides raising taxes to alleviate the current crisis, and how would you ensure we do not find ourselves in the same situation in the future.
Infrastructure is a complicated issue. Many have probably heard there is projected pricetag for repairing and maintaining our roads, sewers, etc. of well over $100 million dollars over the next 20-30 years. While I believe the dollar amount to be exaggerated there is clearly work that needs to be done and and a long-term plan must be decided upon. I don’t know how we got where we are and I don’t know if that matters. What does matter is that we need to tackle the problem. I do not have the answer to this issue at this point except to say that we will begin work on a solution and we will not kick this down the road.
I believe that ignoring infrastructure issues for too long, in the interest of lower taxes and a priority toward more visible projects (developments etc) has now resulted in an emergent state of affairs for our current infrastructure. Therefore I find it interesting that we are now talking about fixing this without raising taxes, when that is likely a big part of the reason we are in this difficulty in the first place! Fortunately, there are federal grants and monies available, helping fund some of these costs, if we make that a priority. As a municipality we are dependent on state regulation and laws in terms of how we acquire money and/or tax, so as a community we await our state legislature’s decision on some of the possible funding solutions. Furthermore, when engaging in environmentally sustainable planning in terms of infrastructure, the long term savings can often offset the initial investments, increasingly so in this age of new technologies.
The reason we are in the situation we are in is that we kicked the can down the street and neglected infrastructure for too long. These decisions had valid reasons for the time, but now we are left with needing to catch up. I am encouraged that the nation overall has infrastructure needs and with that, monies will come in from the fed and state. This will not solve everything, but I think we need to ultimately look to bonding and be judicious about other upgrades we do for the city so we put infrastructure on the front burner.
I see two main causes for how we got so far behind maintaining infrastructure. The first is that the Wisconsin State Legislature passed levy limits on local municipalities in 2005. That state law limited how much cities could raise through property taxes, resulting in a limited annual budget in Hudson that has not allowed for adequate investment in our infrastructure. The second factor is that we did not have a City Engineer on staff until two years ago when we hired Dean Chamberlain. He has been instrumental in examining our roads, sidewalk, and trail system to rate their quality and helpful in raising awareness of where we are deficient.
Funding for necessary infrastructure and road repair is a puzzle that has many pieces. The first is using part of the 1.5 million dollars we will receive from the Federal Government’s American Rescue Plan Act.
The second piece is accessing various grants from the State of Wisconsin. The City Council has already empowered our city staff to apply for Surface Transportation Program (STP) grants for replacing portions of Carmichael, 17th Street, Laurel Avenue, and 11th Street in 2023. City Staff is also applying for Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) grants for Carmichael Road and sidewalks around E.P. Rock Elementary School for 2024 or beyond.
Another piece of the puzzle is looking at future loans for Capital Improvement Projects that can be paid back over the course of many years.
The last piece is finding the most equitable and affordable ways to raise additional money from our community. Currently we use special assessments for homeowners or businesses whose property runs alongside streets and sidewalks being repaired. This generally results in a large fee that many people have not budgeted for in advance and may pay off over the course of several years. We may want to consider moving away from special assessments toward smaller and more manageable ways our residents can support needed infrastructure repair such as a Wheel Tax or Transportation Utility.
The Wheel Tax is $20 per vehicle per year, which is less than what one tank of gas costs. All money raised through the Wheel Tax must go into maintaining roads. A Transportation Utility would charge a minimal fee, say a fourth of a penny per trip and might cost the average homeowner $100 per year. This would be cheaper than potentially thousands of dollars they could be charged through special assessments. The fee would also apply to businesses, so it would generate revenue from people living in Minnesota to help offset the cost of road repair.
I realize that nobody likes the idea of paying more taxes and that it’s not a smart approach to take when running for public office. But as a leader, I believe it is important to let the public know that if we don’t invest a little more now in road repair, we will need to pay a lot more in the future, so it’s fiscally responsible to begin investing now.
Hudson hired a full time city engineer about three years ago to plan and manage our city infrastructure projects. Prior to that time, the city had hired an engineer on an “as needed” contract basis to assist with identified projects. I agree with the decision to have a full time engineer on the city staff.
Our city engineer set about the task of evaluating all of the city’s infrastructure that will need repair and replacement. Does all that work need to be urgently done now, or is it a useful outline for future planning? It’s obvious that the projects must be staged or residents will experience too much traffic disruption. The city engineer will need to present the most urgent projects to the Council for planning with public input.
Past Council members have made decisions based on funding and urgency of need. For example, years of planning and effort went towards the construction of a new waste water treatment plant. This is a vital project affecting every resident, but most of us will never see inside the new facility. Several of our major trunk roads, such as Vine Street and 2nd Street have had recent improvements. The busy Carmichael section north of Coulee Road to Vine Street will be widened with the current development projects.
The Council is currently considering options to widen and improve the 11th Street / Heggen Street bridge. It’s exciting to envision better traffic flow and safe access for bikes and pedestrians. However, the project is dependent on special federal funding, with a grant application process in the near future. If the federal funding is not available, the bridge project will need to be delayed.
Funding for infrastructure projects comes from various sources. I support the use of bonding to finance major projects, as it spreads the cost out over 20 years, rather than asking just current residents and businesses to pay for the improvements. Our Community Development director works to ensure that new commercial and residential developments pay their share in the cost of expanding infrastructure. Basic maintenance and repair should be planned for in the city’s annual budget.
One of the unique challenges facing Hudson is that many of the residents of the adjacent townships drive on our roads but do not pay for our roads. We welcome their support of our local businesses, value their role in our community, and don’t consider them visitors or tourists.
They work at and support our businesses, yet we receive none of the funds collected by sales tax paid in our town. All of those sales tax funds are directed to St Croix County.
We welcome these neighbors to our town. We share the same school district and support the same non-profit organizations that benefit all of us. We are united in the sense that we identify Hudson as our town, yet their property taxes do not contribute to the repair and improvement of our infrastructure.
Similarly, due to a very complicated formula, the city of Hudson receives much less funding from the Wisconsin Shared Revenue Fund than a neighboring city like River Falls. These are funds that the state collects (your tax dollars paid in) and then distributes throughout the state. The city of Hudson typically receives around $210,000 annually, while the city of River Falls receives over $2 million dollars annually from the Shared Revenue Fund. The city of New Richmond also receives much more funding than Hudson from the state’s Shared Revenue Fund. This system severely short changes Hudson, and I would advocate with elected state officials for changes to the state’s formula.
One of the main roles of city government is to provide for infrastructure maintenance and improvements. I do plan to focus on the city’s infrastructure if I am elected to the Council. The planning and funding of these projects is very complex and will have a major impact on city residents and businesses. I am committed to seeking public input during the decision making process and will consider all available sources of funding.
Hudson has always been led by fiscally responsible leaders, and decisions to make repairs over replacement may have been sound at the time based on the current budget, checkbook balance, or other urgent priorities. That was then; this is now. Our infrastructure, our roads, sewer, and bridges etc. all have expiration dates. Unlike the gallon of milk in your fridge, it isn’t as easy as checking the side of the carton to see when things should be kept and when they should be thrown out and replaced. It is in working with our current (and very knowledgeable) staff and using the insights available to them that we can identify priorities and set out to solve for our current issues and identify timelines for future leaders so they can stay ahead of the maintenance. We will need to be creative as we manage ourselves out of this upside-down situation… I believe growth of the tax base through possible new developments, re-developments and new business can not only cover services for their specific development, but also assist in the re-strengthening of our core infrastructure city-wide. With growth comes the opportunity for new technology and new ways of mechanically running a city – and we will explore the grant and federal/state funding to offset some of the larger investments we will face in the near future.
Divisiveness was one of the top answers to “what issues are our community facing” in our annual Chamber survey. How do you propose to tackle that issue?
A breakdown in respect and civility has definitely crept into our community. That is why I created the Golden Rule Initiative. The Initiative is intended to get people to listen to one another and respect the viewpoints of others. Treating others with respect begins with each of us regardless of how others treat us. We had a very successful first year of this initiative and look to build on that success this year.
It would be a great start to simply have a mayor who pledged to be, and acted in a non-partisan way. We have really not had someone fully committed to that in many years. There have been countless examples of partisan connections, and party speak, as our mayors have governed. In addition, to not only “tolerate” but to invite the differing viewpoints and perspectives of citizens would be a helpful beginning to inclusivity. To actually seek out those who might have ideas that are unique and different from ours, is a highly productive practice. We look through increasingly binary lenses; “right and wrong”, “black and white”, “male and female”...yes or no, us or them…
We simply need to focus on the extensive, productive and prosperous ground in between these sides, and discover new ways of governing and existing as we do so.
I think there are a couple ways of tackling this. Number one, communications. I think if we do a better job communicating as a city, part of this will be solved. Also, within a week of Covid hitting our community, I started the a group called the Hudson Area Covid Taskforce. I brought together leaders from different sectors in the community; business, healthcare, faith, nonprofit and more. I have this belief that a community can no longer rely on one entity solely for everything. I will be looking for private/public/nonprofit partnerships to work together on tackling problems and ultimately, I think if we focus on making our community even better and do it in a fiscally responsible way, the divisiveness will ultimately subside.
When I was young there were Republicans, Democrats, and Independents who had disagreements but maintained respectful civil discourse toward others. They put our country first before their party. Unfortunately, this has changed in large part due to cable TV and social media that have opened up venues to amplify partisan extremes. Some national leaders have lowered the bar for civil discourse by modeling disrespect. This has torn apart our sense of community and the common good. We certainly saw this as we tried to work through COVID. Instead of unifying to fight a common enemy – a virus– people’s frustration led to conflict between factions in our city. We have also seen this at public comments during City Council meetings where people have cursed and make lewd gestures.
From talking to people door to door I’ve learned that our residents want to move in a different direction. They yearn for leadership based on respect, reason, good faith and compromise. They want the City Council to work together to serve the best interests of the people.
I think there are a few things we can do to help lessen divisiveness in Hudson. First, I believe we as community leaders have to model respect in order to build trust in Hudson and create a safer environment for public discourse. This is certainly what I have tried to do in my four years on the City Council. We can honor others by listening to their viewpoints and where we disagree, doing so respectfully to uphold their human dignity.
In addition, I think we could sponsor workshops to build relationships between people of opposing views. There are non-profit groups like Braver Angels whose mission is to educate and promote thoughtful discussion among people of every political ideology. We could contact them to get guidance and resources on how to do this in Hudson.
After all, we are in this together and we need everyone’s voice to be a strong community.
I am committed to being a good listener, and am willing to consider all reasonable options when approaching a problem. I am committed to respectful dialogue, but I won’t shy away from a lively debate on issues. We must be able to discuss city issues even if we agree to disagree at the end of the discussion. As a council member, I would insist that anyone that wishes to speak to the council do so in a courteous manner. I want to bring common sense and civility back to the process.
I’m very concerned about the direction the City Council has taken recently. Some council members have lost their focus on the true role of city government, which is to provide for public safety and maintain our infrastructure. Too much time is spent on issues that are not the responsibility of a city council. Unfortunately, some of those issues have been divisive to our community. We need to focus on the priorities that affect all residents. Let’s focus on what we all have in common.
My business approach is more laid back and friendly than we have experienced in the past – I hope to bring the feeling of comradery back to the council by leading by example. We have a job to do, and we are not working of our selves; we are working for the 14,000 residents - and that needs to be our guide. In my career, I have made more progress resolving difficult issues over a cup of coffee or a beer than feverously typing strongly worded e mails or carefully crafted Facebook posts. Sitting down and bringing conversation to an issue allows for the human tendency of better understanding and see the issue from more than one side.
I also think that as we leave the days of Zoom meetings and masks behind us, the entire community can make an effort to choose to be a positive member to help us guide this city. I run into a lot of people who have a concern about a particular issue and unfortunately, many of them only have part of the facts or are sharing an opinion learned through some local Facebook group. - I suggest everybody who is interested in wanting a less contentious city to get involved in a positive manner… look at our 2021 Comprehensive plan, come to the city council meetings, visit the city website and Hudson social media sites, and maybe even giving a call your council person to start a conversation – an informed citizen who is committed to being a positive member is the most valuable asset the city council can have to clear away the smoke and make clear-eyed decisions.
According to the 2021 Chamber survey, two of the issues facing our businesses is housing and transportation. If elected, what will you do to support the community in these areas?
I have been working on transportation for Seniors and disabled for several years. I believe we will see a transportation solution for those groups come to fruition this fall. Much of the money will be in grant form but there will be an outlay from the city. We do not have a lot of room in our budget for an expansive transportation solution but I would like to get a start. With respect to housing there is a proposal before us that will bring badly needed downtown housing. There is no readily available property in Hudson to build and all future discussion would involve annexation of expensive surrounding property for development.
If elected, I hope to help facilitate conversations in our community about how careful attention to assure that there are quality housing choices for all will serve to make our community stronger, more flexible, more agile, and richer. We limit ourselves through any of the current efforts at gentrification that are occurring in cities across our country, and we further insulate ourselves through that limitation. Many of the most heroic members of our community; those we rely most on every day, increasingly cannot even afford to call this city their home.
With an eye (again) toward sustainability, there are many examples of affordable, common sense housing options, across our country, which offset costs by being carbon neutral and powered by renewable energy sources. I believe we have yet to really explore that in our community.
In addition, transportation choices we make in the future will help assure that our investment in our infrastructure will be long-lasting; if we can bring people to places in our city with as few cars traveling the roads to and from as possible; doesn’t it make sense that the roads will last longer? Cities and municipalities are currently solving these problems in very creative ways. We do not need to reinvent the wheel, just need to be open to new ideas; ALL ideas.
We are already seeing us take action in working with developers to help bring more workforce housing to the area. When I say workforce housing, I mean affordable, market-rate housing. There is an apartment building being built in my district and I think we need to look for strategic opportunities where we can offer more than single family homes. In the case of transportation, I would be open to looking at transportation within the city, but also working with any county initiatives for regional opportunities. I really think we need to be creative in this area and work on private/public partnerships to get this done.
As mentioned, affordable housing for hard-working families is one of my priorities. Affordable housing is defined as a homeowner not paying more than 30% of their income toward their mortgage. We have teachers and Police Officers who serve our community tirelessly but can’t afford to live in our community. I believe that is wrong. I think we could partner with groups like Common Bond or Habitat for Humanity to help create more affordable housing. I also think we can be more assertive with developers in the future to set aside a certain amount of affordable housing units in future development projects so we ensure more availability and balanced growth in our city.
To improve transportation, we are currently pursuing private van companies that could help get around town. River Falls and New Richmond both have such services. I don’t think we have the funding to provide a city bus so using a private vendor and taxi services seem to be the most affordable and best transportation option.
Hudson is such a desirable town that it draws many people to live here. The housing problem is not easily solved due to the limited number of land parcels available to develop. I would definitely consider annexing land for further housing. I would be very cautious about authorizing projects that directly affect existing neighborhoods by “infill” zoning changes.
Almost all of the single family home lots have been sold and there are several new apartment buildings that will be completed soon. Newly built apartments will be available in the near future, which should alleviate some of the current demand.
The recent census indicates that roughly 60% of Hudson residents own their home, while 40% are renting. I was a renter in Hudson for several years when my husband and I started a business here in 1989. After a few years we purchased a home and have lived in it for 30 years. I understand the desire to live in our wonderful town, and I also understand the difficulty in buying a “starter home” in Hudson today. The demand has caused prices to increase greatly, and those market forces can’t be changed by the city government. However, by working to control city spending and property taxes, we can help to keep Hudson as affordable as possible.
Regarding transportation, I will prioritize the maintenance of our city streets with a focus on managing busy traffic flow and safety for bikes and pedestrians. The I-94 exit at Carmichael has very high traffic counts, and I would work to have a stronger voice with the Wisconsin DOT when decisions are made regarding that interchange. The Carmichael corridor heading north to Vine Street is also very busy, and changes must be made to control speeds and manage traffic flow.
It’s important to make the correct planning decisions in the effort to expand and improve the 11th Street / Heggen Street bridge. I have discussed the proposed plans with numerous people, as it directly affects my district. It’s vital to get community input when considering such a big project.
The desire to live and work in Hudson is a strong one – as our downtown scene and business parks flourish, the need for top-tier workers is great. While the city is not in the business of building apartments or affordable housing, we can use our market value to attract developers so we can work with them and help influence housing solutions that make sense for both the citizen and the developer. As we plan for the future, additional annexation might require different levels of housing levels, to assure we are not building ourselves out of our own local workforce. For transportation, Hudson has long been a bedroom community and will probably never see a traditional full bus line or light rail system built, but I do think our continued growth will entice ride share programs such as Uber and Lyft to bolster their coverage areas, along with improving our walking and biking path access so that citizens can have more options when it comes to modes of transportation.
The following is the current policy regarding Public comments at Common Council meetings:
“Public comments will not be taken during the Council meeting on any agenda item that is not listed under comments or as a Public Hearing. If you have comments on an agenda item please contact your council representative and/or the mayor to provide your input prior to the meeting. Council contact information can be found here, www.hudsonwi.gov or you may email the mayor and all council members here, email@example.com or you can call 715-386-4765.”
Do you embrace this policy and why? How do you propose this policy allows for adequate and fair discourse on issues impacting the community?
If you have watched our council meetings you know that I have always been an advocate of allowing people time to bring issues they have to the council. In fact many of my peers thought the Citizen Comments section went a little too long or in some cases very long. Before he recent policy was adopted by the Council a few groups had hijacked the comments portion of the meeting to make it their grievance sounding board. There is no actual requirement that we have Citizen Comments on the agenda, in fact many if not most local municipalities or governing bodies have this item on their agendas. The bottom line is that the Council meetings have a purpose – to conduct the business that comes before the council. Most people attend the meetings to handle city issues. There are paid professionals (attorneys, architects, engineers, consultants) that appear before us and are “on the clock” to be there. When the Comments portion of the agenda goes exceedingly long we have several times had to adjourn the meeting before some of these agenda items had been considered due to the lateness of the hour. I think the policy is a good one. Council members cannot respond to any of the commenters therefore there is no dialogue, only listening. Commenters therefore do not need this form of communication. They can e-mail, write or phone us with their concerns as many people already do. So, I support the policy.
I do not embrace this policy. I think it was a quick fix to a bigger problem. It seems this policy became necessary as more and more people felt that they are/were not being heard by our city government, and felt more desperate about being able to say their piece. It is likely a symptom of this very divisive time.
Some of our public servants respond regularly, consistently and respectfully to their constituents, and some do not. Unless we have a mechanism by which all people feel their voice is heard and honored, in an adequate and fair discourse when offered, we will continue to have an issue with people trying to find any opportunity to make sure they get to speak. If we silence them, it will only get worse.
In this day and age of multiple social media platforms, there are many ways we could gather information and input from citizens, before, during and after these meetings. I WANT to know how constituents are feeling and what they are thinking; perhaps they see something in a different light or way than I do; how can I make an informed decision unless I consider that?
I agree that we cannot have hours-long council meetings due to the number of people who want to stand up and speak, so how do we listen to them in an effective and practical way, on an ongoing basis, before, during and after the meetings?
I can’t pretend to have the answers right now, but I believe we could find a compromise, if we can engage in continued conversation about it, and not be afraid of trying different approaches and humble ourselves to learn about and honor each other.
The public comments as stated have been in effect for quite some time and I embrace it. When we have an agenda item and we allow people to speak on that agenda item, this is not fair to the rest of the community who may want to speak on that agenda item. What would be fair to the rest of the community, would be to hold a public hearing. If I receive multiple comments from constituents on an agenda item, I will not think twice of tabling an agenda item and calling for a public hearing on that agenda item at a later date.
If we did not have this rule, a person or a handful of people with one viewpoint on an agenda item could come to a meeting and talk on an item with that one viewpoint. Holding a public hearing for all public comment is what is most fair. Again, the best rule of thumb is to reach out to your council person or the mayor. I cannot stress this point enough… communication to a council person is NOT social media. Drop an email or give a phone call. In fact, the phone I list on the city website is my personal cell phone… you can even text.
What is not covered in the public comments as stated in the question is that we have paired down who can speak… limiting it to only the residents. The limiting of public comments happened during Covid when we were meeting over zoom and the public could attend via zoom. I think this calls for use to relook at those specific limitations and have good public discussion over those limitations.
I support the intent of the policy to encourage people to contact their representatives prior to City Council meetings, but I also think we could adapt the policy to allow for more public comments on agenda items at meeting as long as we set a time limits. I think public input is vital to good local government and there are various means to accomplish this. Since we are a small town, local officials are quite accessible and our emails and oftentimes cell phone numbers are listed on the city website. Many constituents reach out successfully to me prior to meeting to provide input. In addition, we need to continue to hold Public Hearings to allow for comments on issues that impact many people.
The Council has established guidelines to allow residents to provide public comment on issues that concern them. Only Hudson residents are allowed to speak during the public comment period which is currently offered at the start of each regular City Council meeting. It’s important to recognize that a Council meeting is not a townhall or open forum arranged for public discussion. A public comment period is not mandated by law, but it is obviously vital to the role of our city government.
The mayor sets the agenda for each meeting, and the agenda must be properly noticed in advance of the meeting. The council members are not allowed to discuss items that are not listed on the agenda. That ruling is by state law. It prevents other citizens from missing out on an important discussion initiated by a citizen but not properly noticed to the public at large. In that way, the rules protect citizens from missing out on an important matter.
I am concerned that many Hudson residents do not realize that an important issue is even being considered by the council until it is already an agenda item. This policy does frustrate many residents, as they care deeply about a current issue but may miss the opportunity for public comment. While the option is available to email or call the mayor and council members, some prefer to speak in public regarding their concerns.
Improving communication with residents is important. People want to know what is going on in their town. The city has improved its website in the last few years, providing updates and information to residents and business owners. The mayor has also initiated a city newsletter that is mailed to residents. Our local paper has become more regional in focus, and therefore does not devote as much news coverage to Hudson issues.
I would consider a change to the comment policy that would facilitate better communication between Hudson residents and the Council. We could implement a “sign in” format where local residents sign up to speak and list their topic of concern. If the mayor notes that many wish to speak on a current agenda item, the Council could vote to delay council discussion (and potential voting) on that agenda item to a later meeting. This would allow residents to speak that evening. The issue could also be scheduled for a public hearing at a later date. These potential changes would delay the decision making process. If an emergency action item is before the council, then a delay would not be advised.
I agree with the decision to allow only Hudson residents to speak at city council meetings. Many people care deeply about Hudson, but are not current residents and taxpayers. I think it’s appropriate for the council to limit public comments to Hudson residents only. However, I would like to introduce an option for public comments by business owners who do not live in the city of Hudson. The business owner could be introduced by name and business, as they are key contributors to the success of Hudson.
I think the “Public Comments” part of the meetings is deeply rooted in this country’s history and a cornerstone of our local government. I don’t embrace the current policy, but I do respect the goals it has attempted to achieve.
Hudson wants to hear from all of its citizens, and the methods of communicating are vast – from phone, e mail, text, to simply calling up the mayor or council member and seeing if you can have a chat. If a citizen desires to speak during the public portion, I do think we should have some filter so that it doesn’t add hours to the other important agenda items, stray too far off course on a particular issue, and have people who don’t have a vested relationship with the city use it as a stage to push a particular agenda. I do believe that adhering to a time limit, both for the individual speakers and that portion of the agenda has value, to show respect for others who have business to conduct at that meeting. It might be helpful to bring some more formalized structure by making some adjustments to the current policy, such as requirement to register prior to speaking, and to insist that the speaker clearly identify themselves by name and address. I would also be open to business owners within the city to be able to speak if it directly pertained to the city and the business.