HUDSON — The city’s newly elected mayor said he is committed to listening to residents’ concerns and giving careful review to the city’s financial picture.
On Tuesday, challenger Craig Shubert defeated incumbent Dave Basil by a count of 3,242 (51.84 percent) to 3,012 (48.16 percent), according to final but unofficial results from the Summit County Board of Elections.
Shubert called his victory "a pleasant surprise," and also praised his opponent.
"[Mayor Basil] should be commended for an outstanding race," said Shubert. "The will of the people has changed. They were looking for change."
Shubert noted he is looking forward to addressing the challenges the city is facing.
"There is much more that unites our tight knit community than divides us," said Shubert. "Now is the time to come together to resolve our differences so we can focus on our future."
Meanwhile, Basil, who had been seeking a second term, said, "If you enter the arena, you have to be prepared for and accept the result."
In his two-plus decades of service to the city, Basil noted he "made too many friendships to count that I otherwise would likely not have made. I don't regret any of the efforts and time spent helping Hudson and my fellow citizens."
Leading the First and Main and library projects, reconstructing and improving Atterbury Boulevard, reconstructing streets in the former township, introducing open forums among council members, and forming the senior citizen advisory committee were some of the accomplishments that Basil cited from his 20-plus years of public service, the last four as mayor.
Shubert’s plans moving forward
Shubert said he believes that in government service, "your only job is to serve [your constituents]," and added he was taught that public servants should always ask constituents: "How may I help you?"
He added many residents "felt for some time that city leadership was not listening." A prominent example was the Downtown Phase II project. After a majority of voters casting ballots on May 7 opposed the Phase II plan, Shubert noted some changes were made to the project, but the overall plan of housing, retail and professional offices has remained in place throughout the process.
"[City leaders] weren’t hearing the other half of the conversation, which was [concerns about] density, traffic and just sheer cost," said Shubert. "You have to be aware of how the community is reacting. Somehow [city leaders] missed those signals."
Shubert said he believes the Phase II project "needs some additional study," and added he wants to examine three to five potential uses of the Phase II land. While noting there is a site plan, he added there were not any architectural renderings, blue prints, "cost understanding," or developer’s agreement for the project.
With both him and three new members of council — Kate Schlademan, Chris Foster and Skylar Sutton — coming on-board next month, Shubert said there will be new views that must be considered.
"We should not be in a rush to do anything with [Phase II], knowing that whatever we build is going to be here for the next 50 to 100 years," observed Shubert. "So we best get it right."
When he takes office Dec. 3, Shubert said he will "call for a 119-day moratorium on non-essential spending," and explained the time frame would run through March 31, the first quarter of 2020.
He said he felt it was important for officials to figure out how fix the roads without borrowing money and to analyze Velocity Broadband’s fiscal situation.
"There’s just a number of financial issues that this new council is going to have to figure out," said Shubert.
He added he favors implementing a hiring freeze lasting anywhere from six months to one year, capping promotions and salary increases, and possibly looking at a reduction in force.
"We’re having a ballooning of staff and expense," said Shubert, who noted he’s seen a pattern of seasonal employees becoming part-time workers and part-timers moving into full-time roles during the last few years.
He emphasized safety forces would not be part of any potential cost-cutting action.
The mayor in Hudson is the chief executive officer in the city, while the city manager is the chief administrative officer, Shubert said, noting the city charter "does not define the limitations of [the mayor’s] role." He noted the mayor reports to the citizens, while the city manager reports to council.
"As a mayor, I expect to use my voice to articulate issues and concerns, not only to council, but to the residents and will allow residents to have their say," said Shubert.
He said he plans to host office hours starting in January and will have neighborhood meetings to address residents’ concerns.
Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at 330-541-9421, firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.