Candidates state their cases for election to City Council
The five candidates for the Hudson City Council were invited to write essays of 500 words or less making their cases for being elected on April 5.
Their responses follow, along with some brief biographical information.
Five-year incumbent Randy Morrissette II is unopposed for the District 1 aldermanic seat.
In District 5, businessman John Hoggatt is challenging 10-year incumbent Scot O'Malley, the longest-serving current member of the council.
In District 6, newly appointed Alderperson Rich Vanselow is being challenged by Mary Claire Potter, a former president of the Hudson Area Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau.
Vanselow was selected by the council 3-2 over Potter to fill the District 6 seat last December. The opening occurred after the council picked Alan Burchill, the former District 6 alderperson, to serve as mayor.
Burchill is completing the two-year term as mayor that Dean Knudson was elected to serve in April 2010. Knudson resigned from the mayor's office after being elected to the Wisconsin Assembly in November of last year.
Jamie Johnson interviewed the District 5 and 6 candidates for two segments of the "Western Wisconsin Journal" program on Hudson's community access television channel 15, known as the River Channel.
Streaming video of the interviews are available online at the River Channel's website, www.riverchannel.org.
Randy Morrissette II, District 1 candidate
I am a born and raised Hudsonite. I have been on the Hudson City Council for five years. I have been the council president and I am currently the Public Safety Committee chairman.
I am currently on the Finance Committee, Park Board and the Tourism Committee. I have also been on the EMS and fire commissions.
Over the past five years, I have been a strong advocate for the general well-being and safety of the citizens of Hudson. I have been a member of the Public Safety Committee for the last five years while on the council.
I strongly supported the increase in police officers and equipment, and the technology upgrades the department needed, including the purchase of the former NMC building that now houses our police department and library.
If I am re-elected, I will continue to support the police department and will listen to the needs that will help protect our city well into the future. I truly feel we need to keep pace with all the technology available so we can upgrade and streamline the police department's operations and maximize officers' time on the street.
I am proud of the things the council has accomplished over the last five years. Some of the things that I supported or helped accomplish:
If I am re-elected, I want to continue to keep taxes and the mill rate the same or lower. The council will have to think outside of the box in the next budget cycles to keep positive balances. We need experienced people in these challenging economic times.
The Hudson City Council has always done a great job not relying on shared revenues from the state of Wisconsin. We will need to be very conservative when it comes to spending. We will be challenged to provide the great services that the taxpayers of Hudson expect and deserve.
We need to hold the line when it comes to our wants versus needs. We need to do what every household has had to do to live within our means.
I will continue to ask the hard questions and be willing to change my opinion when it is warranted. It is about common sense, and that is what I will continue to bring to the Hudson City Council. I appreciate your support and encourage everyone to get out and vote April 5th. Thank you.
Rich Vanselow, District 6 candidate
When Al Burchill was appointed to replace Dean Knudson as mayor of Hudson, some friends of mine from District 6 suggested that I apply for the open alderperson's seat. I thought about that and decided to apply. On Dec. 20, 2010, I was appointed to fill the open District 6 position.
Over the past three months, I have learned that my 34 years of business experience, including living and working in Europe, my Bachelor of Science degree in business management, and my familiarity with the Hudson community gained from living here for the past 25 years, have all helped me contribute to the work of the Hudson City Council.
And, as I said in the candidate forums, over the past 25 years as I traveled doing my job, someone was serving on the City Council taking care of the community. Now that I am retired and have the time, it is time for me to give back to the community by serving on the City Council. I want to do that and am willing to do that. If you agree, then I will do that.
With the current financial situation in the state and within the federal government, the most important issue facing the city is controlling spending. We already know that state revenues will be reduced. We do not know by exactly how much. So, we need to plan for these reduced revenues and adjust our spending while minimizing any impact on services. Increasing taxes to offset the reduced revenues is not an option because it would only hurt our local economy.
Mary Claire Potter, District 6 candidate
Well qualified: A resident of Hudson for 15 years, I currently serve on the City of Hudson Plan Commission, appointed in 2008, and the Hudson Board of Appeals, appointed in 2007.
As president of the Hudson Area Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau from 1996 to 2004, I understand the importance of creating a positive atmosphere for commerce of all kinds in our community. With over 17 years of experience in leading and working for chambers of commerce, I have had the opportunity to interact with a wide range of people.
During those years, I worked to build consensus among the members, who ranged from small retail shops to major manufacturers, regarding issues facing the businesses and the community. I represented the interests of 500 to 1,200 members -- similar to a City Council member representing the constituents of a district.
Involved in the community: In addition to my appointed positions, I have been active with a number of nonprofit organizations including Junior Achievement -- board and volunteer teacher; chair, The Phipps Center for the Arts annual fund campaign; chair, Community Action annual fund campaign; member, Hudson Daybreak Rotary Club; and board member for the Northern Star Council Boy Scouts of America.
Challenging times: These are challenging times for all communities. We need to continue to provide services to all residents in a fiscally responsible manner. We need creative thinking to address these challenges. We need people on the council who have been responsible for meeting budgets and payroll, just as I have, and can work in cooperation with others to develop creative solutions.
We need to continue to grow the tax base by additional business growth in the St. Croix Business Park and also by filling storefronts downtown and on the hill. In addition, we need to continue to promote Hudson as a great place to live, work, visit and do business.
The tax rate needs to be maintained. We need to be mindful of the current economic situation of many of our residents -- this is not the time to raise property taxes. This is the time for creative thinking, cooperation and creative solutions within the city.
During these challenging times, we need to be sure that the city has a strong infrastructure plan in place to maintain our streets, parks and water needs, and which also addresses our flood issues. I will work with the council and city departments on the infrastructure plan for the city.
Listen and work for you: I will listen to the residents of District 6 and will bring any concerns you may have forward to the council. I will champion the important Hudson characteristics of clean and well-maintained streets and parks, a high degree of public safety and an excellent quality of life.
John Hoggatt, District 5 candidate
I would like to thank the staff of the Star-Observer for taking the time to profile each of the candidates and for the great job they do every week keeping us well-informed.
I am a business-oriented candidate. Healthy businesses in Hudson will bring jobs, increased tax revenues to support the community, and a better quality of life for Hudson residents. Your City Council representative should always be looking for cost-saving opportunities while at the same time maintaining the highest standard of city services. I know it is possible to accomplish these goals with no new taxes.
My wife and I have been Hudson residents since 1995. We each moved our businesses downtown in 2001 and have lived in District 5 since 2004. I have firsthand knowledge of the day-to-day issues facing not only downtown, but Hudson as a whole.
My career has given me an invaluable mix of experiences and skills. My background includes 12 years of business administration and management, 17 years of sales and marketing, 20 years of information technology and five years of teaching/technical instruction. I will be able to draw upon this knowledge base as I work in city government for your benefit.
As I have been preparing for alderman, I have become much more in tune with the requirements of the job and the types of decisions and challenges the City Council faces. Many people have asked, "Why would you want to go and get involved in city politics?" My response has been, "I am up to the challenge. I am sure I can do a good job for the people in District 5 and in all of Hudson, and I am looking forward to giving back by serving this community."
Hudson is faced with economic challenges due to statewide budget cutbacks, the rise in the cost of goods, services and labor, increased costs to maintain our infrastructure, changes in property values and increased requests from outside organizations like the library. But there will also be new opportunities for redevelopment of our existing businesses and to attract new enterprises to Hudson.
In addition, the city must constantly evaluate how it can provide better public works, parks, public safety and other public services that make Hudson a wonderful place to live. Now more than ever we need a fresh perspective on how to handle these challenges and opportunities.
If elected, I will draw upon my skills and experiences to provide a fresh approach, new ideas and new energy. I will listen and engage the people living in District 5 and be their voice on the City Council. I will be the representative that takes the time to learn what the constituents have to say.
Please come meet me in person at my open house at 701 Second St. on March 31 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. I look forward to meeting you and hearing your ideas. Thank you for your support and please vote on April 5th.
Scot O'Malley, District 5 candidate
In the 35 years I've been a Hudsonite, our city has grown from a population of less than 4,000 -- and a single stoplight in the whole city -- to now more than 12,700 residents, with a 45 percent increase in just the past decade.
Managing this growth has continued to be an important task for members of the City Council, and is the primary reason I was asked to join the council some years back by my neighbors in the 5th District. Representing residents of the oldest part of Hudson meant, in part, being on the defensive to preserve our neighborhoods, but it also meant encouraging good ideas that would advance the goal of creating new opportunities for business to flourish while keeping a welcome atmosphere for new families to live here.
Much of my work on the council has centered around looking for a better way to get things done, to deliver maximum services with minimum impact on taxes. As chair of the Public Works Committee, I have been for some time now, literally, where the rubber meets the road.
There are smarter ways to handle our tax dollars. Like the public library. I support a strong library, as I think it's one of the building blocks of a successful city. But it doesn't follow that this means increasing taxes for the library, but rather being more particular in our use of the money we already have in our budget. We can improve our library at no additional tax burden.
As an example, my opponent and I were both asked in an interview airing on cable channel 15 what our response would be to reduced revenue sharing from Madison. Should the city cut services or raise taxes? My solution was to do neither, because by smarter allocation of our existing budget we can absorb the reduction in shared revenue without cutting services or increasing taxes, and I gave an example of how we could do this.
Voters should watch the interview to form their own opinions. It airs until election day on Channel 15, or online at www.riverchannel.org.
There is a clear difference between the two 5th District candidates: my opponent would cut services and raise taxes, and I would preserve services without raising taxes. We both say so in the televised interview.
For the past few years it's been my happy duty to represent the residents of Hudson's 5th District, and I consider that duty to be twofold.
Job one is to keep Hudson the kind of city that attracted people to live here in the first place: a family-friendly home with old town charm matched with modern thinking. Secondly, we have to maintain these high standards at the lowest possible cost to the taxpayer.
I have a record of keeping both these goals uppermost in mind in my council decisions. I want to thank the voters for their support in the past, and I ask for their support in the April 5th election. Thank you.