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Incumbent Mayor Rich O’Connor is running against Liz Malanaphy, who is debuting her political career with this race. 

The mayoral candidates have been asked a series of questions about their positions, ideals and priorities. 

Both candidates will be on the ballot in the spring election, April 5. 

For more information on your polling place, visit myvote.wi.gov/en-us/

Rich O’Connor (incumbent)

Rich O'Connor

Mayor Rich O'Connor

Age: 69
Occupation: Certified financial planner, business owner
Family: Three Children, Jen Haase (Andy), Richie O’Connor (Rachel), Casie Cox (Ben). Five granddaughters and another grandchild on the way.
Prior political positions: Mayor, state representative, county commissioner

What is the primary reason you decided to run for office? I have said this many times and will continue to say it as long as I live because it was such a profound and powerful message.

My mother taught me when I was a young boy “One of the most noble endeavors in life is to serve one’s community.” Her voice many years later echoed in my mind when I first committed to run for mayor six years ago. 

This time I am running for several reasons. When I first ran I said I wanted to accomplish a few things.

First was to make the old dog track site a productive development which would ultimately add substantial tax revenue to the city. This is happening. The developers have done a great job in attracting industry, housing and, yes, baseball is still on the horizon. COVID-19 interfered with the timeframe for getting the remainder of the project done, but it will hopefully be well underway again this spring and summer. 

I also ran to keep the city’s share of your tax bill in check while improving services. I believe we have done that. Last year’s budget saw a 0% increase. This year the increase was 2.7%, well below the 7%-plus cost of living increase. This was done while improving services to the city.

Examples of this include our new centrally located fire station, our new ambulance service, upgraded wastewater treatment facility, improved parks to name a few.

I also promised to enhance our identity as the most welcoming River City in all of the St. Croix/Mississippi Valley. We are close to making several important upgrades to our Lakefront Park as I had promised. We will truly be the crown jewel of the St. Croix.

In short I am running to be able to complete the promises I made to the people of Hudson when I first ran. We are almost there.

Have you held elected office previously? Yes I was elected to the Minnesota house of Representatives in 1980 at the age of 27. I spent 12 years in office until 1992. I was also on the Ramsey County Board for one year filling the remainder of the term of a deceased commissioner.

What mitigation measures with regard to COVID-19 would you endorse, if any going forward? The city does not have a Health Services Department nor do we have a medical or health services director. State law provides that in the absence of HSD or medical director, municipalities fall under the purview of the county in which the locality resides.

I have consistently argued for the city to follow the guidelines provided by the County Health Services Department. My only concern with the county department is that they did not provide us with timely up-to-date information specific to the city of Hudson.

Going forward I will continue to argue that the city follows county guidelines rather than imposing its own without a medical director on staff providing that advice.

What should the city’s No. 1 priority be? The No. 1 priority for any municipality should be the safety and welfare of all of its residents. I have made that my No. 1 priority since I took office and am proud of my record of supporting our police, fire and EMS services.

The people who provide these services keep us safe and constantly look for ways to improve the delivery of their respective services such as improving response times for emergency calls, ongoing training to prepare themselves for the ever-evolving situations they find themselves in. 

Since I have been in office we have added four patrol officers, a drug detective, a community resource officer, a world-class emergency Medical Services Department, a new strategically located fire station, all while keeping city taxes down. 

It must be noted that the safety of our community is not just in the hands of police, fire and EMS. Others on the front lines keeping us safe include our public utilities and public works employees. It is important that we let them know how much we appreciate all they do for us.

If elected, how would you work with other council members to pass legislation? Our council works very well together. Of course, there are times when emotions run high, but that is the nature of the beast.

We are not all going to be on the same page all the time. To put this into perspective, there are six council members and the mayor. The mayor only casts a vote when there is a tie.

With six members, one could reasonably assume there would be a lot of tie votes where the mayor would have to break those ties. Not so. Indeed, I have only voted three or four times in the six years I have been in office. This council works well together to get things done and will undoubtedly continue to do so.

What is one concern about the city you would address? Forgive me for this but there are two things that keep me awake at night.

First is getting much needed transportation for our elderly and disabled residents. We are working to make this a reality this fall. We have been working on this for about three years now.

A shout out to Ramsey Lee who first brought this to my attention a few years ago at which point I promised him we would get a system in place. We’re almost there, Ramsey.

The second is getting the proper state-prescribed funding for our library. A library is essential to the vitality of a community. The funding history is too long and complicated to explain here but I have been committed to getting us to the right solution, and I believe that solution is in hand will also happen in the next few months. 

Is there any reason to question the legitimacy of this election? None. 

What makes you or your skill sets unique from the other candidates? I believe my years in the legislature, especially sitting on the Tax, Governmental Operations and Commerce Committees coupled with my 30 years in the financial services industry in the private sector make me uniquely qualified to be Hudson’s mayor. 

I spent 10 years at CitiStreet, a CitiGroup Company, as a regional manager and regional vice president, four years as a regional vice president with M&I Bank before I started my own financial services business 12 years ago here in Hudson. 

I oversaw pension plans, 401(k)s, 403(b)s, deferred compensation offerings and frequently negotiated contracts and benefit packages. I successfully shepherded important legislation through the Minnesota Legislature. I know how to compromise and understand that the only way to be successful in public policy is through the art of compromise.

How will you help foster community on the council and with the public? I am all about community. I am in love with our community. Our community has served and nurtured Cindy’s and my family. What disturbs me most at this point in our history is the rapid deterioration of respect for others and the incivility that has crept into our daily conversations. 

I am appalled at how people think they can talk to one another. We are now experiencing a time when people believe that if you do not agree with them about anything you are their enemy.

People refuse to listen to each other. How can you understand what people are thinking if you refuse to listen to them? I have literally seen families torn apart, marriages dissolved and 60-year friendships destroyed because people can no longer talk with one another – they can’t tolerate someone disagreeing with them. 

I could go on about this subject, perhaps you have heard me talk about this before. That is why I began the Golden Rule Initiative. We need to bring civility back into our daily discourse. We need to listen to others’ thoughts without interruption, we need to respect each and every one of us. 

Am I guilty of not following the Golden Rule? You're darn right I have been. But I am now trying to make a conscious effort to abide by this simple yet universal standard. Every culture ancient and modern, every religion ancient and modern, has at its roots some form of the Golden Rule.

When I experience someone not treating me with respect, I do not view this as a reason to treat them unkind. The Golden Rule begins with me, it begins with how I treat people regardless of how they treat me. 

Does this mean we can’t disagree – of course not. Disagreement and subsequent compromise has been how all of the greatest decisions have been agreed upon. Does this mean we can’t posit a position with deep conviction and emotion? Of course not.

State your case with the passion it deserves. But we must be civil and respectful. And that begins with me.

Is there anything else you would like to add? It has truly been an honor and a pleasure to have been Hudson’s mayor the past six years. We have been through a lot together, and I believe we are better people than we were two years ago. Through the hardships and sacrifices Hudson has maintained its course. We have increased and improved services, kept taxes low, provided for the safety of our residents and improved our quality of life. I believe this election should be about true leadership and accomplishments. I hope I have earned your support, and I am asking for your vote on Tuesday, April 5. 

Liz Malanaphy

Liz Malanaphy

Liz Malanaphy.

Pronouns: she/her
Age: 54
Occupation: Educator
Family: Maury, Sydney (Connor Beaudoin), Max, Clara, Kate and Owen.
Prior political positions: Hudson Urban Forestry Board (appointment)

What is the primary reason you have decided to run for this position? My daughter Kate created a cool design for my signs that helps define this answer for me: I visualize a vibrant community that celebrates the commitments made by lifelong citizens of Hudson, and welcomes the ideas that new citizens might bring.

I want to mobilize our community; young, old and in between, to build a better future for all. I hope to revitalize interest, belief and engagement in civil government. I will work to realize our true potential as what could be an exemplary community in how we govern and engage our citizens. 

Have you held an elected office previously? I have not previously felt the need to run. I’ve been able to support wonderful alderpersons representing the district I live in, and excellent mayoral candidates running in past elections. However, this year there was only the incumbent running, and I felt strongly that we needed a second candidate.

Fortunately, in recent history we have seen individuals with no political experience being elected to office, and people seem to embrace the fact that career politicians can and should be unseated sometimes. 

What mitigation measures with regard to COVID-19 would you endorse, if any, going forward? Fortunately I think we are past the worst of this pandemic, with a decent percentage of our population vaccinated and boosted.

Moving forward, I encourage people to consider not only themselves, but all of those around them who might be more vulnerable, when deciding their own personal approach to this. 

The collective health of all is not a personal attack on anyone. I hope we never again see something that should have been an opportunity for all of us to pull together and care for each other, become so polarizing and politicized. 

What should the city’s No. 1 priority be? Just in terms of imminent agenda items, we have to focus on an aging, failing infrastructure. I have heard it referred to as “historic failure” in planning for the future, in terms of how our city is laid out, the lack of allowance for transportation other than individual cars, and lack of attention to proper maintenance.

There may be federal and state funding options to assist our efforts and many great examples of innovation and sustainable solutions when we look to other municipalities as well. 

And we have a great team of city employees in place for future planning; we can do it with an eye toward sustainability and more of a long-term outlook.

Side note: I’d like to thank Ben, a really savvy 17 year old, at Fresh and Natural for directing me to some really interesting information about these issues. Check out Strong Towns.org for recognition of mistakes municipalities make and look at some solutions.

As a less tangible issue, but probably just as pressing, I have seen the results of the city of Hudson diversity and inclusion survey, and they indicate that we have a lot of work to do in those areas. 

If elected, how would you work with your other council members to pass legislation?

I co-coordinate a creative problem solving program in our schools. I have led hundreds of students through the creative problem solving process and am well versed in the imagination, innovation and respect that is part of that process.

I have an open and curious mind and seek out differing points of view and ideas, while also being prepared to do the research and study necessary to assure that the legislation and direction is in the best interest of our citizens and community. In short, dialogue, innovation, respect, collaboration and agility are important characteristics of this process. 

What is one concern about the city that you would address? I recently heard a young man say something that replays in my head daily, and it speaks to a concern for all of us. He said he wished he could continue to live in Hudson, a community that he loves in many ways; however, his thought was this; “I can find better hope elsewhere.” 

We have a slow bleed of really creative, talented, intelligent young adults and families, who are moving elsewhere to seek out diverse culture, diversity in viewpoints and approaches to life, and acceptance and inclusion that our community does not provide them. 

If we can’t figure out a way to change this, our beautiful city is not on a sustainable path, demographically. 

Together we should be capable of making Hudson a destination not just for people on day trips or vacation, but for families of all different racial, cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds to live and work and thrive in.

Is there any reason to question the legitimacy of this election? I have always trusted the process in our city. I know many of the poll workers at my polling place as historically upstanding, well respected individuals.

It is actually very difficult to commit election fraud, with serious consequences, and is not a common occurrence, despite what we have been told by politicians; that is a construct that they use to further divide us. We need to get smarter about this.

That being said, I am slightly concerned about the appointment of one particular election official this year, due to the fact that there are many complaints on record about their individual attempts to intimidate voters.

I strongly suggest that voters know voting rights, and perhaps a parent goes to the polls with their first-time voters to make sure they get through the process, in case this individual is at their polling place. 

What makes you or your skill sets unique from the other candidates? In all of the programs and projects I have designed and facilitated in this community, combining young, middle-aged and elderly citizens, I have facilitated a cooperative vision, and done the work to manifest it.

These projects have incorporated environmental issues, involved collaborations between age and wisdom and young energy, have resulted in international projects, employed effective communication ideas, and communicated through the arts.

If you ask about my work in this community, I think you would overwhelmingly find that people trust me to do what I say I am going to do, and I take pride in that. 

It is not always easy, and my work is informed by the creative process, which guides me to just keep trying until I find a solution, while involving as many viewpoints and ideas as possible. I think that is unique to me as a candidate in this election.

How will you help foster community on the council and with the public? I look forward to engaging in extended and ongoing conversations in the constituents and keeping direct lines of communication open with citizens who have concerns, ideas and questions.

Just in this campaign process I have encountered many great ideas and amazing people with extensive experience in many different areas and have seen much concern and love for our city. 

It would be interesting to explore the addition of some at-large council members to our city council. They would help represent even more citizen voices during our governing process. 

Right now we have six council members, with the mayor having the power of a tie-breaking vote. It seems like a potential appropriation of power, conflict of interest and just conflict in general. With a few additional council members, we’d share more ideas, more input and more conversation. 

Above all, the role of mayor is one of nonpartisan guidance and engagement and remembering this and acting accordingly is integral in being a successful leader.

Is there anything else you would like to add?  I am very grateful to the people who have supported my campaign thus far. In this election, my goal is to assure we have two viable candidates to choose from, to engage in healthy, and sometimes difficult, conversations, and to bring more issues and voices to light along the way. It’s about the democratic process.

And it’s about renewing faith in this process, so the young people who will eventually be our leaders will see this democracy the way we once did, when we were young.

Perhaps we can return to an ideal that being a civil servant and elected official is an honorable position. We vote. We win or lose. Then we roll up our sleeves and get back to work. 

Admittedly, I have a long game that is even more idealistic. I believe we desperately need a paradigm shift in politics. The power of money in our political process is toxic and dysfunctional.

Candidates become beholden to people and parties and spend exorbitant sums of money. And as we exist in this world alongside people who are homeless, or do not have enough to eat, or are refugees of war, it makes it even harder to accept these vast amounts of money spent on politics. 

Think about our Golden Rule. Doesn’t it apply here too?  As a candidate for this nonpartisan office I am spending very little on this campaign and have not aligned myself with either party, nor accepted help or resources from either party.

It may very well mean that I don’t get elected, but if I give up my ideals and ethics in this process, I lose, no matter what. Change starts with me. Thank you for your understanding. And vote April 5. 

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