Incumbents unopposed in two City Council districts
Two members of the Hudson City Council seeking new two-year terms don't have a challenger on the April 6 ballot.
Alderperson Lori Bernard, the current City Council president, is running for a second term as the District 3 representative.
Alderperson Lee Wyland will likely be returned to office for a third term as the District 4 representative.
The Star-Observer asked each of the incumbents for biographical information and a statement about why they're seeking re-election, what they believe are the main issues facing the city and what they would like to accomplish in the coming term.
Their responses follow.
Lori Bernard, District 3
Address: 1509 Laurel Ave.
Occupation: Small business owner; president of non-profit Bethesda Relief International Inc.
Education: B.S. in chemistry from UW-Green Bay; Ph.D. in chemistry from University of Colorado; postdoctoral research fellow at Purdue University
Public service: City Council member since April 2008; St. Croix County Board supervisor from 2002 to 2008
The city of Hudson, like many cities across the nation, is facing very difficult economic times. Home foreclosures are numerous and many of our residents have lost their jobs. That is the reality through which fiscal decisions at all levels of government should be made. As a city, we need to be more creative, effective and innovative in how we evaluate, prioritize and deliver services to our residents.
I would like to first tell city residents about the care with which we spent your tax dollars over the last two years. While other taxing entities on your property tax bill may have shown increases, the city of Hudson tax rate decreased by 5 percent last year and this year saw 0 percent growth. While major infrastructure improvements have taken place and public safety efforts have improved significantly, city residents have not seen an increase in the city portion of their property tax bill.
One of the main thrusts of my campaign two years ago was improvement of our police department. Some of the accomplishments over the last two years include one additional officer, the installation of computers in our squad cars, new equipment including tasers, radar and new protective gear, as well as reinstatement of our K-9 program.
Officer shifts have been modified to provide for more coverage during peak hours. We have hired three community service officers who are cross-trained to provide assistance to both our police department and St. Croix EMS. We have also increased the number of casual call officers who are used on an as-needed basis, which served to decrease overtime pay within the department.
Space for our police department will be greatly expanded upon moving to our new building on First Street later this spring. With the library as a tenant and the potential for sale of the building to the library in the coming years, this was a fiscally responsible move for the city. Sale of the library building at 911 Fourth St. was also an important part of this plan. With the move of EMS to the lower level of City Hall and potential garage renovations, both EMS and the fire department will experience greater space for staff, equipment and vehicles.
Another major accomplishment of this council has been the change in health insurance for city employees. After significant effort, we broke free of the state insurance plan with its associated high premiums. The city employees now enjoy a health insurance plan that is more comparable to that seen in the private sector. It gives employees greater charge over decision-making regarding their health care costs and saved the city taxpayers nearly $400,000 just this year.
The implementation of a new sex offender ordinance within the city has been a significant development. It places limitations on sex offenders regarding loitering near or residing within specified zones near our schools, parks and other areas where children congregate. It is an ordinance that I believe will serve our residents well.
It has been a pleasure and an honor to work with such a productive City Council under the leadership of Mayor Dean Knudson. I look forward to continuing efforts to make Hudson a great place for residents and businesses alike, while maintaining sound fiscal constraints on our spending.
Lee Wyland, District 4
Address: 713 Fifth St.
Occupation: Management consulting company owner
Education: B.S. in computer science; M.S. in technology management
Public service: City Council member since April 2006
Serving on the City Council is both a significant responsibility as well as a great privilege. I appreciate my neighbors for trusting me with the responsibility of speaking for them on the council. I also appreciate those who have attended meetings and been personally involved in city issues.
Over the last few years, we have completed many hours of research and analysis on the issues of housing our safety departments -- EMS, fire and police. The purpose of the research was to understand the needs of our community and what the needs will be over the next 10 years.
We have purchased a new building for our library and police, reclaimed Prospect Park and have undertaken many other efforts both large and small to keep our community healthy and vibrant.
Going forward, there are a number of issues I expect we will need to address. The current police facility is intended to be a short-term solution for three to five years.
Fire and EMS are also outgrowing their space. A significant part of that space crunch is the physical size of new equipment, as well as the personnel and equipment needed to support a city our size.
In the future, there needs to be a facility built to house our emergency services.
I expect to see an increase in the number of building requests all over town, including downtown. I would like to see some of the plans for the downtown that were brought forward a few years ago move forward, using our new historical preservation guidelines.
The problem of continued flooding in the downtown is one I would like the council to address.
As building has continued and soil penetration areas have been covered up, downtown storm sewers aren't large enough to handle heavy rain, and flooding occurs regularly in a number of areas.
Studies have been done, but no cost-effective solutions have been found. We have authorized a new study this year that looks very viable. I hope we can see some significant relief in the next two years to this problem.
Finally, our city has now hit the number of people where the state requires our storm water runoff to be treated. This is going to be a significant challenge because of the cost of the infrastructure that will be required.
I also expect the next few years to be very tight financially, so our continued goal as a city has to be to balance the budget with a consistent vision for the future.
This discussion leads us to taxes. If you look at your tax bill, the city continues to work hard to do as much as possible with the taxes that are collected without asking for more. Continued focus on improving services without increasing taxes is always a challenge - and a goal for me.