HUDSON — After initially asking council to pass legislation to form a committee to address senior citizen issues, the mayor has decided instead to create his own committee.

Mayor David Basil told council Nov. 20 he will set up a senior citizen advisory committee because he is “interested in these issues. I think they are important and I am interested in hearing from citizens who have both a passion and expertise on these issues. I think they can be of great benefit to the city.”

“It is apparent to me that [a Council committee] will not receive the affirmative votes necessary for council to carry it forward,” said Basil on Nov. 20. “I am going to pull this item from the agenda and council will not need to consider it further.”

Council President Bill Wooldredge (At-Large) said senior citizen issues need to be addressed.

“We do far less [for senior citizens] than what other cities in the neighboring [areas] do,” Wooldredge said. “Hopefully they’ll come back with some good ideas and ultimately some actions for council or some other entities to take on.”

Council member Dr. J. Daniel Williams (At-Large) said he also supported Basil’s move.

“I think most of us, if not all of us on council are cognizant of some of the needs we have for our seniors in town,” Williams said. “We need a way to tap into that, that would give us the information we need to make any decisions.”

Basil added that if the committee raises issues that “may deserve, and benefit from involvement of the city, it can be brought forward for action by this council.”

The mayor originally had asked council to approve legislation that would’ve formed the committee, as well as specified the number of members, term lengths and duties. The committee would’ve provided advice to council on senior citizen needs and issues. At a meeting on Nov. 6, council members shared mixed opinions about the committee proposal and debate occurred about how involved government should be in providing services to senior citizens.

Following this discussion, Basil said he decided to withdraw the legislation and form the committee himself.

Council member Hal DeSaussure (At-Large) said he felt his colleagues favored discussing senior citizen issues, but believed some council members were trying to determine the best manner in which to have that conversation. DeSaussure said the mayor’s committee could be “a little bit more effective” than a council committee because he felt the participants could use the mayor as a “conduit” and “themselves, also, because they can petition [council] directly to put those issues in front of us.”

Council member Alex Kelemen (Ward 3) said citizens can always form their own committee and said he wants to discuss senior citizen needs during council’s retreat early next year. He said he is interested in learning about services that other communities provide to seniors and how those endeavors are funded.

“We could all have ideas on things but then the question is, how do you pay for them, where does that money come from?” Kelemen said.

Basil said he believes the city has a role in connecting its senior citizens with available resources. Hudson does not have a senior center, meal program, snowplow services or senior transportation.

Council member Casey Weinstein (Ward 2) said data shows the city is an “aging community,” and said he received a “very positive response” when he discussed the potential committee with his constituents. 

“I just hope that the formation of [the committee] being less than a formal committee doesn’t lessen their ability to convey ideas that could result in action from council,” added Weinstein. “It doesn’t sound like that’s the case, so I’m appreciative of that and I’m appreciative of [Basil] stepping up to form a mayor’s committee.”

Basil said he would keep council apprised of the committee’s activities. During the Nov. 20 meeting, a member of the audience said “thank you very much” to Basil for his decision.

How to apply

Jody Roberts, the city’s communications manager, said Basil wants to appoint seven members who must be registered voters. Anyone interested in serving on the committee should email an expression of interest and a brief description of their background to Basil at dbasil@hudson.oh.us, Roberts said. The deadline to submit expressions of interest is Dec. 21. Roberts noted Basil is hoping to finish his interviews by Jan. 12, 2019, and appointments to the committee will be made after that date.

Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at 330-541-9421, pkeren@recordpub.com, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.