Hudson Turns out for GFWC’s Candidate Night
March 1, 2019
by Doug Robinson
Town Moderator Paul Inderbitzen said, “There are lots of people” in attendance at the debate and that he “appreciated the turnout.
“I have not seen this many people in a long time and it’s great,” said Inderbitzen.
The community came together ON DATE to learn, discuss, and have a debate with the multiple candidates who are running for various public offices within the town.
For many years, the GFWC Hudson Women’s Club has hosted Candidate Night at the Hudson Community Center, 12 Lions Ave., so that “a night of meeting and questions for the candidates of local office” could be held.
Candidates for the Hudson School board, Board of Selectman, filled the long length of tables at the front of the Community Center.
First to speak of their candidacy were the five candidates for Hudson School Board.
Candidates Gary Gasdia, Hasan Goode, and Diana LaMothe are vying for the three-year terms on the school board, while Gretchen Whiting will be running uncontested in the one-year vacancy. Roger Coutu withdrew his name from this seat for family reasons.
Gasdia commented that we “live in a great town, (but) we don’t feel great.” He commented that we have the “wrong vision” and that our vision that “should inspire us. Our present vision is mediocrity.”
Hasan Goode said that our school district should be “preparing our kids” making them “college ready and career bound. Our schools are here to serve the student to the best of their ability.” He further stated we have a “divided community, everybody is not working together. Everybody needs to be on the same page.”
The final three-year candidate, Diana LaMothe, commented that our school should be “driven to work for the benefit of our children.” She wishes to “take my passion to the net level and make a difference for future generations. Get out of the details and see the big picture.” She also said that we need to “inspire and empower our youth and teachers to be their best.”
Gretchen Whiting, seeking the one-year position on the ballot, said, “Make sure the bottom-line result is for the students. (We must be) putting the students first. “Execution is key.” Whiting further commented that we need programs for adults and that we need to bring in personnel that “will last.”
The candidates for the Hudson Board of Selectmen were then asked to introduce themselves to the audience. Eight candidates have placed their names on the ballot for the two available three-year terms.
Kevin Mason has a vision to return Hudson to a town of people who showed respect for one another. He spoke of a time in Hudson when people knew your name and wanted to help each other. Today, he said, that we are “always being harassed.” He wants to be a selectman “to make sure and keep an eye on what is going on. There is no communication about who is doing what.”
Kara Roy commented that Hudson needs planning for “short-, medium-, and long-term plans to achieve” their goals. “We live in a great town with limitless potential. Where do you want Hudson in the future and how do we get there? We need a vision.” She further commented that the town needs to stop thinking that our challenges are library challenges, school challenges, or town challenges, and that we need to be a “cohesive team “as we approach those challenges. She believes that Hudson needs to have a “collective vision whereby all challenges are faced collectively by the whole town.” She further stated that the town needs a “plan for present and into the future” and those plans must “be balanced.” She further stated that she went to Alvirne and would ”never, ever support cutting the budget.”
Thomas Scotti believes that he will bring a “fresh set of eyes and experience to the town.” He feels that his years in law enforcement have provided him with the skills as “proficient at conflict solution, problem solving, collaboration,” and the “building of bridges, working together with the various groups to achieve goals both effectively and efficiently.” Scotti offers “a unique perspective to the plague of the opioid addiction in our community” and “how it is devastating our families.” He also spoke of his commitment to finding solutions to the traffic flow within Hudson as well as his commitment to the value of green space and the “beautiful natural spaces” in the Hudson community.
Jonathan Simineau stated that he was a longtime resident of Hudson, and that he attended Alvirne. He expressed his desire to be a selectman because he wanted to “be your voice to the town.” He also said he was in favor of community development and a big supporter of small business in Hudson.
Jordan Ulery expounded on his breadth of service both locally and on a state level. “I know how Hudson operates. I know the old, the good, and the bad history. I am willing to serve the people again and to make sure that individual rights are protected as well as business rights.” Ulery also said that he believed that the growth of Hudson needed be done in “a controlled fashion, so that we all can continue to benefit.”
The next candidate to speak was Caitlin Chiquelin. Speaking as a “millennial,” she stated that this demographic group was the second largest group in Hudson and that their voice needed to be heard. “I aim to increase voter turnout. Of the 18,000 voters in Hudson, only 3,000 vote in local elections.” She intends to represent “all voices,” and she intends to work for more pedestrian- and bike-friendly roads, so that it “safe to walk on our streets.” Furthermore, Chiquelin believes that a municipal composting system would reduce the waste collection dollars. Also, she will work to increase access to “cheaper and cleaner energy,” support the fire department to become a Safe Station and make annual tax reporting more “condensed” and “more transparent. I promise to listen to you.”
Roger Coutu spoke of his past 10 years as a selectman, asking voters to review “his tenure” as a selectman. He cited the accomplishments of having purchased Benson Park; the erection of a new playground; the instituting of a 20-year highway repaving cycle, doing away with the 100-year cycle; the building of a new Senior Center as well as the Hudson Cable Television Center; the addition of a multi-purpose athletic field behind Rodgers Memorial Library, and the development of a workable 10-year master plan for Hudson. He stated that, during his tenure as a selectman, the tax rate has increased only “93 cents.”
Michael Drouin “spoke from his heart” and about the “care for my town” while he said that he “see the litter, sits in traffic and that Hudson is going away” from the town he knew as a child. “House lots are smaller and when are we going to say enough is enough?” He also talked of his compassion and concern for Hudson’s elderly who are being forced from their homes and the need for our community to help them.
Once the candidates for selectman had finished speaking, those running for Hudson Budget Committee were next to introduce themselves to voters.
Robert Guessferd said that, while there are three candidates running and three positions available, he wanted to “make sure the folks know where I stand.” As a budget committee member for the past three years, Guessferd commented that he would like to see the school board and the selectmen working together and coming together with a “common joint long-term vision. I do not see that now.” In addition, he commented that more transparency was needed in the budgeting process.
Shawn Murray also shared his desire to make available to the voters a transparent budget and mentioned that the budget is available online. He also stated that with a “$53 million school budget and a $27 million town budget, that Hudson is not a small town. It has a lot of pieces” to it. He further stated that “collaboration has to occur for us to plan for the future and to have the resources available.”
The next candidate to speak was James Weaver. Asking to be re-elected, Weaver commented that he feels his present position on the budget committee is a “good fit” and that he can “positively impact the town.”
- Alejandro Urrutia promised to do his best on “how you want the money you give to the town to be used. I need your endorsement to put your vote on my name.” He also said, that he had “tremendous respect for those who gave their time” and that “nothing was more generous than time.”
The Cemetery Trustee’s position was passed over as the candidate was not available. Also, there currently are no candidates on the ballot for the Code of Ethics.
Linda Walkley Kipnes introduced herself stating that she had two priorities which she would be working on for the next three years should she be elected. The first priority would be staff salaries, as they are “non-union” to bring them in line with comparable communities as they are paid below the average, and then provide them with a “step program.” The second priority for Kipnes would the sustainability of the library in the coming years. She wishes that “The Rogers Library remains the center of our community (by) providing services for everybody.”
The Supervisor of the Checklist candidates was the next office presented to speak.
Michelle Rourke spoke of her desire to be elected. Her goal is to get as many as those who wish to be registered voters to get registered.
Kathleen Leary, longtime volunteer in Hudson, has also placed her name on the ballot for Supervisor of the Checklist. She is retired from her position as an attorney. Her passion for government relations and the responsibility of voting issues and the explanation of those issues are passions of Leary. “As a Supervisor of the Checklist, it is one of those jobs that require teamwork” and “we do work well together.” To the voters she said, “I look forward to having your vote on March 12.”
The office of Treasurer for the Town of Hudson was presented next. Both candidates were not there. Should you wish to view their letters read, visit www.hudsonctv.com.
Leonard Lathrop took to the microphone next as he had signed the line to be re-elected to the Trustee of the Trust Funds. Looking for his fifth re-appointment, Lathrop stated that he believed “giving back to the town we live in” was essential. He further stated, “We cannot be reactive, we need to be proactive for the betterment of each leadership group.” The guardianship of the $19 million account involves the management of the town’s capital reserve accounts as well as the protection of those investment monies of trust wills, deeds and other monies donated to the town. They also invest these monies while protecting the principles.
Questions from the audience followed the candidates’ opening speeches. The audience asked questions regarding time commitments, how they would envision the unification of all town governments, the circumferential highway, and how they would correct the traffic issues in Hudson.
The candidate night can be viewed on HCTV.