Write-in candidate Michael Donovan is running against current Ward Three Representative Sutton. 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?
Donovan: I am encouraged by recent “framework” draft language by the comprehensive plan steering committee that would “promote the downtown focus area as a mixed-use district with a focus on housing and quality community spaces.” It would be great if empty nester/first floor living could be addressed in Phase II or elsewhere in the city. Environmental/open space should, of course, be considered. Any and all development should be citizen centric. The anti-development attitude of this council majority, especially of the current Ward 3 member, has prevented Hudson’s empty nesters from being able to stay in the community they have invested so much time into. We are seeing a mass exodus of empty nesters because of this anti-development attitude, but it doesn’t have to be this way.
Sutton: Fairmount’s proposal (Heinen’s + residential) seemed to have broad community support, unfortunately they were unable to deliver detailed plans and the vision never materialized. The commercial/retail landscape has changed post pandemic, and I think any plan with “empty nester” housing at its core is our best path forward. More broadly, I value low density land use and have made efforts to tighten up those portions of our land development code.
2. Residents have expressed concerns about Main Street vacancies. What can council do to nurture a thriving downtown retail district?
Donovan: I would encourage businesses that meet the new paradigm of work from home. The city also needs to seek new retail that would draw residents to shop and eat in not only our downtown core, but the business areas outside of First & Main and Main Street. Critical mass is essential to support our downtown core, which is yet another argument to smartly develop the Phase 2 land.
Sutton: The city receives very little property tax and is primarily funded through income tax. It is in our best interest to encourage employment. Festivals and the D.O.R.A. have had positive impacts for existing tenants, and we need to find additional “foot traffic” opportunities. Some turnover is healthy, but long term vacancies are problematic. Several municipalities have created “vacancy taxes” to incentivise property owners to find tenants. I would like to research if that was successful and what kind of long term impacts it had.
3. How will you ensure that residents have a voice in city matters?
Donovan: I plan to continue the tradition of open forums to encourage two-way communication, and I will keep up with social media. Listening is important, but responding is even more important.
Sutton: I am a firm believer that council is the voice of the residents, not the voice of the individual. My peers on council must be tired of hearing me opine about water, sewer and sidewalks – but that is what residents want to talk about. My contact information is published in many locations, and I take pride in returning every single phone call, email, or text message I receive. ∞
(Write-in) Mike Donovan
Regional Industry Manager, Progressive Insurance