HUDSON -- Managing growth and infrastructure, and bringing the community together were topics at the forefront as the Hudson Common Council candidates met in a virtual forum Thursday, Feb. 18.

The full ballot will feature 6 candidates for the three open seats. Election day is Tuesday, April. 6. Candidates are:

District 1

Randy Morrissette II (I)

Kerry Reis

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District 5

Sarah Bruch

Tori Boomsma

District 6

Joyce Hall (i)

Julie Hefner

Top priorities

District 1 incumbent Randy Morrissette II said public safety is a top priority for him as well.

“I’m tired of people suggesting we have a problem in our police department,” he said

The city should address infrastructure while being smart about how it is funded. Maintaining the quality of life that has been built in Hudson is important. He supported bringing in projects like the business park, hotels and more, Morrissette said.

‘We did it with smart, controlled growth,” he said.

District 1 challenger Kerry Reis also named infrastructure atop her priority list. As many of the main arteries coming into Hudson are state-funded, Reis said Madison representatives need to be at the table with the city in order to prioritize this part of the state.

Modernizing communication with residents is also important, Reis said.

“Everyone loves this place but they don’t know how things are getting done or how to find out what’s going on,” she said.

Running for the District 5 seat, Sarah Bruch said when it comes to the issue of aging infrastructure, the city is in a good position to begin addressing problems.

“Our city has hired amazing department heads that come with a wealth of experience,” she said.

Other issues facing the city include better informing citizens on what’s happening in the city and enhancing the livability for all residents. Livability includes workforce, housing, transportation, celebrating diversities and more.

District 5 Candidate Tori Boomsma said the comprehensive plan is the No. 1 issue.

“This will bring us 20 year into the future,” she said.

The city needs to focus on bonding, ensuring that it keeps its current spending low now so it can borrow monies at a good rate for large projects down the road, such as the new sewer plant which could cost up to $40 million.

She also said funding the library and focusing on safety is a top priority.

District 6 incumbent Joyce Hall said infrastructure includes many items, such as roads that are behind on being repaired. The public works committee and city engineer are working on a plan for that, she said.

A larger facility and more officers for the police department is also important, something the public safety committee has recommended.

The city also needs better library funding and worker housing. All of these topics need to be addressed in the comprehensive plan, she said.

District 6 challenger Julie Hefner said her first priority is public safety, and supporting the Hudson police.

“There have been some things happening lately not only in our community but in our world that I think have threatened our sense of safety and security,” she said.

As the city grows, she said it is important to focus on measured and managed growth, making proactive and conscious decisions that still maintain the Hudson identity.

Addressing divisions

As COVID-19 hit, divisions festered not only at a national level, but locally in Hudson as well.

Morrissette said people need to get back to respecting people’s opinions. A solution for any issue requires finding common ground, he said.

“Politics and personal destruction in Hudson has to stop. Hudson deserves sound and respectful, thoughtful leaders, people that don’t follow a certain narrative by a certain group,” he said.

Reis said she does not believe the divisions are as strong as some people believe.

“Much of the noise that comes out of our tv and radio is not reflected in our neighborhoods. People generally respect each other and honor our personal choices about safety measures,” she said. It’s important to learn from this crisis, and not pretend there won't be another one.

Boomsma said COVID has created instability and intolerance within the city. All residents are focused on health, she said, but for some it’s the immediate health of themselves and their families, and others it's the lasting health of the community. Addressing that divide is about respect.

“It’s a balance that begins with coming together and listening with curiosity and humility,” she said.

Bruch said she takes comfort knowing so many residents have used their voices and participated in meetings on this issue.

“There is a unifying theme, and it’s one of deep love and care for our community,” she said.

Bringing stakeholders to the table, and having city leadership set the tone will allow for solutions, she said.

Hall said the council has worked to handle COVID issues as best it can.

“We do have differing opinions on things but we’ve all listened to each other and we’ve worked together to make decisions,” she said.

She said she plans to continue to encourage masks and social distancing, and following scientific evidence in her position and responses.

Hefner said communication and respect can go a long way to bridge a divide. People need to listen, open themselves up to ideas and information, and trust where that information is coming from. Agenda and partisan politics can’t be a part of it.

The full forum can be viewed at riverchannel.org.