Scott Ruffer, appointed to council earlier this year following the resignation of Beth Bigham, will defend his seat against newcomer Mike Bird. Following are questions posed to the candidates by Hudson Life. Responses were limited to 225 words and are unedited.
1. The Phase II property remains empty. What is your stance on development there and/or land use more broadly?
Bird: This is prime land that taxpayers are paying for and it should be put to good use. Input from the comprehensive plan survey may help determine Hudson residents’ preferences, guiding council’s decision. I’m hopeful that a consensus can be reached on housing and green space that would enhance downtown. The upcoming implementation of Smart Signal Technology in downtown traffic lights should help mitigate traffic issues.
Ruffer: Open properties are increasingly rare and as such, resident input and proper planning are key to the long-term success of Hudson. Prior to serving on council, I was a member of the comprehensive steering committee. I know that committee’s work at gathering resident feedback is critical to ensuring Phase II and other land assets are developed in a manner that benefits the entire community. Financially responsible decision making and listening to what Hudson residents want and need are my priorities.
2. Residents have expressed concerns about Main Street vacancies. What can council do to nurture a thriving downtown retail district?
Bird: Vacancies cost the city money, and we want downtown retail to succeed – we should devote resources to reducing vacancies. To better understand the situation, I spoke with a downtown small business owner and a retail operations expert. Some of the businesses may need more support/coaching when evaluating a location, a business model, how to expand their social media presence, etc. We should be doing an analysis of the businesses that fail and succeed, and understand the key factors of success so we can help all businesses thrive.
Ruffer: The solution can be found by gathering data (retail and traffic study) and receiving feedback from the property owners, retailers and shoppers alike. Using that data and feedback in a combination of efforts from our communications team, the economic development team, the economic growth board, the property owners, and our chamber of commerce members can help provide meaningful guidance to council on ways to best support the Main Street retail district.
3. How will you ensure that residents have a voice in city matters?
Bird: Residents lose their voice and disengage when they aren’t listened to or elected officials are hyper-partisan. It’s unfortunate that residents seldom see their council members except when they are campaigning. In addition to a robust social media presence, my flexible schedule will allow me to meet with residents frequently and at times convenient for them. I plan on having regular neighborhood meetings with residents, encouraging the discussion of differing viewpoints.
Ruffer: City government works best when there is open dialogue with residents. I prioritize being accessible via email, phone and attending community events. It’s important to hear from residents about immediate needs in their neighborhoods as well as upcoming votes and ideas. I encourage residents to visit Hudson.oh.us and to download the Engage Hudson app. They are great assets to report issues and learn what is happening. ∞
Pediatric emergency physician, quality improvement consultant
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