Hudson Candidate Statement – Select Board – Steven Sharek

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Hudson Candidate Statement – Select Board – Steven Sharek
Steven Sharek

Why are you running?

Starting in July of next year, I see some challenging town budgets ahead of us, and I think the town needs strong, seasoned leadership to help guide us through this. State aid to Hudson is basically flat this year. The state budget for FY 2025 hasn’t been approved yet. But it looks like we may get only get a 2% increase in unrestricted local aid, the money that helps support police, fire, public works, and other services overseen by Town Hall. On the school side, we’re likely to get an even smaller increase – not even enough to cover one-quarter of the increased costs of the new bus contract.

For a whole host of reasons, the town and school budget picture for FY 2026 looks even worse.

I’ve been in and around town and state government since 1983, as an administrator, city councilor, city council president, town moderator, finance committee member, and school committee member. Right now, Hudson needs someone familiar with budgets, someone who speaks the truth, someone unafraid to make tough decisions. That’s why I’m running.

What are the three biggest issues facing the Select Board in order of importance?

Since I’m not yet serving on the Select Board and don’t participate in all its meetings, I may not be aware of all the big issues facing the Town, so my views on this question could certainly change as I learn more.

Based on what I currently know, however, I see these as being among the biggest issues facing the Town of Hudson and its Select Board:

– How to maintain critically needed school and municipal services at a time when state aid to Hudson is basically flat.

– How to keep our downtown thriving when there’s not enough parking.

– How to build a top-notch school system, provide additional staffing for police and fire departments, and fund better roads – all while fostering a community spirit that attracts businesses and young families to invest in Hudson.

Addressing these issues will help broaden our tax base, increase our property values, and keep our local businesses thriving.

Parking can become a challenge, especially during weekend events. What can the Select Board do to address this challenge?

First, we need to implement the best recommendations in the recent parking study. That includes erecting signage to direct drivers to available lots. In addition, we need to continue to constantly monitor to make sure that there’s regular turnover in the limited parking spaces we have. We might want to consider limiting the time that drivers are allowed to park in certain lots, increase fines for parking violations, and encourage downtown employees to protect their own self-interest by not parking all day in precious spaces needed by customers and businesses.

In the long term, we need to try to create more parking spaces. Perhaps we can do this through arrangements with the owners of larger lots. Maybe we need to explore building our own lot, something that is frankly expensive to do. But we need to create more parking, one way or the other.

If we don’t, I worry that our now-thriving downtown will suffer, for the exact same reason why many downtowns were hurt in the past: lack of parking. No one wants that.

What is your vision for Hudson?

I’ve made Hudson my home for the past 12 years. I love this town.

What’s my vision for Hudson? I see a Town of Hudson that has a thriving economy; a downtown full of vitality, and business, (and parking); an award-winning school system that’s the envy of the region and attracts young families here like a magnet; town services that are ample and affordable; a good supply of housing in all price ranges; waterways and ponds free of pollution and invasive plants; a town government that runs efficiently and has a long-term capital plan and millions of dollars in its stabilization account; great roads without potholes; town meetings that are packed with residents who are well-informed; a citizenry of all sizes and shapes and colors and countries and political persuasions that enjoys public celebrations as much as it values public debates, a citizenry that shares a love of the Town of Hudson, the community I am proud to call my hometown.

Hudson is in the process of undertaking several construction projects, including building a new Department of Public Works facility and renovations to the fire headquarters. What steps should the Select Board take to minimize the impact on taxpayers?

In the short run, the Town and its agents need to carefully monitor large capital projects like these to make sure the taxpayers are getting the quality they paid for, at the price they paid.

In the longer term, the Town of Hudson and the Massachusetts Municipal Association (MMA) need to lobby the state legislature to create a process by which the state would help pay for large capital construction projects like fire stations, police stations, DPW buildings, town halls, and other municipal facilities. This is not a new idea. It’s already been proposed in various forms on Beacon Hill. Paying for the replacement of municipal buildings is a statewide issue. It’s a statewide problem.

For public schools, there’s a process in place through the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA). It covers large renovations or new construction. The MSBA reviews applications, ranks them, approves them, and reimburses the district for a portion of the cost. The MSBA is funded by one penny of the state’s sales tax.

What is your relevant experience to serve on the Select Board?

I’ve been lucky. I’ve held some of the best jobs around. And I’ve been elected to public office in 3 communities.

Much of this experience is directly relevant to service on the Select Board: budgeting, hiring, supervising, making decisions, being fair and honest.

On the very first day in my first full-time job as a reporter, I was assigned to cover a meeting of the Dartmouth Board of Selectmen. At that first meeting, I was lost. I knew zero about town government. But I learned by covering meetings: select boards, planning boards, town meetings, conservation commissions. I worked as Assistant to the Mayor of New Bedford. I was elected to the City Council and later as a Town Moderator. I served as a school administrator.

Here in Hudson, I’ve served as a member and vice chair of the Finance Committee and chair of the Recycling and Sustainability Committee. I now serve on the School Committee. With the hiring of Dr. Reagan, I’m confident the school system is in good hands.

I’m ready to tackle a new assignment.

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