Candidates Night Introduces Those Seeking Election; Brings Rancor to Town as in Recent Presidential Debates
March 4, 2016
by Laurie Jasper
GFWC Hudson Junior Women hosted the annual Candidates Night on Monday, Feb. 29, at the Hudson Community Center. Sixteen of the 23 residents seeking election to various positions attended the event. GFWC member Laura Edmands opened with welcoming remarks, noting GFWC Hudson Junior Women is celebrating 50 years of service to the Hudson community and the community at large. Edmands thanked the candidates and the audience members for attending, the Hudson Community Club for their assistance as well as Hudson Cable Television for broadcasting the program live. Town moderator Paul Inderbitzen, who is running unopposed for re-election, explained the rules of the evening. Each candidate was allowed three minutes for an introductory speech. Following that portion, audience members were able to submit questions.
Board of Selectmen (five candidates running for two three-year terms)
There are five candidates for two three-year terms for the board of selectmen, and each addressed the audience. Roger Coutu said he moved to Hudson in 1999 and has served for the past eight years as a selectman, including as chairman and vice chairman, and said he would continue to serve with unending dedication, passion and integrity. Coutu said, “In this election, experience and productivity matter.”
Richard Kahn, who has run four prior unsuccessful campaigns for selectman, chose to play on Jeff Foxworthy’s “You might be a redneck” comedy by listing a rambling diatribe with “You might vote for Rich Kahn if …” including “If you want to show your neighbors how well you are doing so you put all your stuff in your yard, you might vote for Rich Kahn” and “If you believe that a full body, naked scanner like those they use at the airports is somewhere between voyeurism and pedophilia, you might vote for Rich Kahn.” He runs a landscaping business in town.
Incumbent Richard Maddox has been a selectman for the past 12 years, stating, “I am just here to do what I believe is in the best interest for the town of Hudson.” Maddox said he has asked a lot of questions during his 12 years, citing several examples, and said he has the knowledge, determination and dedication for the position.
Angela Saucier has lived in Hudson for six years, and this is her first time running for office. She said she works in sales for an outside staffing agency and her on-the-job experience would be an asset on the board. Saucier is a member of the Alvirne Booster Club and is helping to renovate Kiwanis Field.
Jared Stevens ran last year for selectman and is on the ballot again. “We’re really tired of the status quo,” Stevens said. During Stevens’ opening statement he spoke against the current board.
Budget Committee (three three-year terms)
There are three three-year terms open for budget committee, and two candidates have applied. James Barnes attended the event and said he has lived in Hudson for 30 years and has served the last three years on the budget committee. In addition, Barnes has been a volunteer on the conservation committee and a member of the planning board. Currently, Barnes is chairman of the Benson Park Committee,
Budget Committee (one one-year term)
Also for budget committee, there is one one-year term to which Joseph Fernald has applied. Fernald has lived in town for 12 years and is seeking office for the first time. “I want to involve myself in how and where this town spends its money,” Fernald said. Married with twin boys, Fernald is a T-ball coach with a degree in accounting and an advanced degree in business.
Cemetery Trustee (one three-year term)
Two residents have applied for the single three-year position as cemetery trustee. William Collins is a life-long resident of Hudson and this is his first time running for office. He is an appointed member of the planning board and conservation commission. “I think the cemeteries can provide some of that history to the local people. It’s something I find interesting,” said Collins.
Code of Ethics Committee (two three-year terms; one two-year term)
The code of ethics committee meets on an as-need basis. This year there are two three-year terms open for which no one applied. Mark Manning signed up to serve for the one two-year term. Manning has lived in town with his wife and two boys for four years. He grew up in Dracut and is an account executive in Woburn who works part-time in real estate.
Library Trustee (two three-year term)
For library trustee, there are four candidates running for two three-year positions. Shawn Jasper is a lifelong resident of the town and has served on many boards and committees. Jasper said as speaker of the House of Representatives he doesn’t have as much time as he would like to volunteer for the town he loves so much, but he would like to give back to the community. “I think I have the experience that is needed on that board. The library is a very important asset to the town of Hudson. I think there are some efficiencies that could be had there,” Jasper said.
Linda Kipnes is a current library trustee and loves being a trustee because she is an avid reader and library user. She said the trustees oversee the budget and help set library policy. Kipnes said the trustees implemented several recommendations from the strategic plan of 2014 including the big blue drop box at Friend Lumber, Sunday hours January to May, and a marketing plan. Kipnes said the most important job as a trustee is to, “advocate for the library and the library staff.
Kara Roy moved to Hudson in 2007 and wants to be a library trustee. She is a retired Army officer and is now a lawyer in Haverhill, Mass. She likes to look at things at a different angle and enjoys visiting Rodgers Memorial Library.
Town Moderator (one two-year term)
Paul Inderbitzen paused in his role as event facilitator to campaign for re-election as town moderator, a two-year term for which he is running unopposed. Inderbitzen has been moderator since he was appointed in 2008.
Trustee of the Trust Funds (one three-year term)
Len Lathrop began his three-minute time by stating a running joke, “My name is not Ed Duchesne.” (Ed is another Trustee). Lathrop has applied for the one, three-year term as a trustee of the trust fund, a position he has held since 2005. He explained that the trustees manage the town’s savings accounts which include trust funds and capital reserve funds, making sure the money is spent in line with the accounts and investing the money to make it grow.
School Board (two three-year terms)
On the school side of the ballot, there are two three-year terms available for school board. Although five people signed up for the two seats, Inderbitzen announced that one person is not eligible to run and will be removed from the ballot. Incumbent Patty Langlais, who has lived in Hudson for 24 years, is currently in her seventh year on the school board, and said, “I’ve enjoyed most of them.” She said she is proud of all the work they have accomplished and would love to see long-range planning between the school and town and would also like to look at stress factors effecting children.
Lee Lavoie served on the school board for six years, “retired” and now wishes to return for another term, saying, “never say never.” He said his wife has worked for the school district for 24 years, his son is a junior student/athlete at Alvirne and his daughter is a freshman at Alvirne. “I promise I will always give you 100 percent,” he said.
Questions and Answers
Many questions were posed to the candidates. School board candidates were asked if they supported the petition warrant article for replacing the Alvirne track; Lee Lavoie said, yes, as he was one of the petitioners. Patty Langlais said she also supported the article. They were also asked if they thought teachers should be allowed to carry guns. Both candidates answered no. Additionally, a question was posed asking how many meetings school board members should be allowed to miss before they are asked to step down. Langlais said if there are three unexcused absences the member can be asked to step down.
Many of the questions went to those running for board of selectmen. When asked to name three pressing problems, candidates answered as follows: Saucier said new fire station is needed, better infrastructure and communication upgrade; Maddox listed the need for new fire station and working on the water situation; Kahn said create a business friendly climate, respect for civil liberties and voter apathy; Coutu said Lowell Road traffic concerns, more fields for our youth and a youth government program; Stevens said a better job between selectmen and the school board, develop open land for more business and work on our taxes.
Shawn Jasper was asked if it was appropriate for him to run for library trustee when his wife works at the library. Jasper said he anticipated the question and said his wife works part time and it is not a violation of the code of ethics. “I think Mr. Jasper is perfectly capable of making decisions based on the best interest of the library, regardless of his wife’s position there,” Linda Kipnes said. Kara Roy chose not to comment.
Other questions were about management styles and whether: charter schools are hurting education, the town planner should be forced to do business recruiting, the library budget should be a separate budget from the town’s budget, the town should adopt Robert’s Rules (of Order) and how to convince parents of school children to get out to vote.
Toward the end of the night, the undercurrent of tension among Stevens, Coutu and Maddox flared when candidates for the board of selectmen were asked whether Hudson needs more affordable housing. Stevens said, “I think it starts with our taxes. If your tax rate is $10,000 a year on a house that it costs $200,000 to buy, how much is that mortgage, say $900 a month, and your tax bill is $1,000 a month.” He said Hudson needs to market for more business and does not need more affordable housing.
Saucier said she thinks Hudson is affordable to live in and her taxes are not $10,000 on a $200,000 house. Maddox addressed Stevens and said a $250,000 house pays about $5,000 in taxes, and that affordable housing is driven by the market. Kahn said competition keeps pricing down. Coutu criticized Stevens, saying, “You have no idea what you are talking about. You lack the experience to be on the board of selectmen.” Coutu further said, “You’re probably not a homeowner in this community and you have no idea what’s going on, so don’t throw out radical statements that make no sense. I’m ready to jump out of my chair.” Coutu said the market decides what is affordable and people are buying the homes because they are affordable.
Candidates Night concluded after 1 hour and 45 minutes. Hudson Cable TV Channel 20 will be showing Candidates Night throughout the next week. In addition, it may be found online at www.hudsonctv.com/Cablecast/Public/Main.aspx?ChannelID=1.
Town elections are next Tuesday, March 8, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Hudson Community Center.