Select Board hopefuls speak at candidates’ night

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Select Board hopefuls speak at candidates’ night
Candidates running for the Hudson Select Board answer questions at the May 1 candidates’ night held at the Hudson Senior Center. From left to right, they are Diane Bemis, Steven Sharek and Brian White. (Photo/Sarah Freedman)

HUDSON – When Hudson residents go to the polls on May 13, they will be voting for candidates to fill two seats on the Select Board. The residents vying for those seats this year are Diane Bemis, Steven Sharek and Brian White.

All three candidates had a chance at candidates’ night at the Hudson Senior Center on May 1 to speak about why they were running and their views on the issues important to Hudson voters, such as the budget and schools. The Assabet Valley Chamber of Commerce and League of Women Voters sponsored the event.

Bemis shared her experience with public service. She has a bachelor’s degree in biology from Boston State College and taught middle and high school students for 26 years in the Watertown Public Schools. In addition, she has a master’s degree in education and a Ph.D. from Boston College in leadership.

A member of the Rotary Club, she served as assistant superintendent and superintendent for 10 years in Littleton, where she oversaw budgets ranging from $20 million to over $40 million. She wrote a grant that allowed Littleton to receive monies from the Massachusetts School Building Association to renovate the elementary school.

RELATED CONTENT: Hudson Select Board candidate statements

Sharek previously served as a city councilor and aide to the mayor in New Bedford. In Dartmouth, he was the town moderator for eight years. He moved to Hudson 12 years ago and now serves on the Hudson School Committee. Before that, he was vice chair of the Finance Committee.

“I have had among the best jobs that Massachusetts has to offer. I have been elected to public office in three communities: New Bedford, Dartmouth and now Hudson,” he said.

He has a master’s degree in educational leadership from Bridgewater State University and a law degree from the Southern New England School of Law, which is now UMass Dartmouth School of Law.

Sharek said he has “experience budgeting, hiring, supervising, listening, making difficult decisions,” and he believed that “difficult decisions are on the horizon for us.”

“I want to move to this position as a Select Board member because my jobs in the past have given me the experience that’s needed right now,” said Sharek.

White has lived in Hudson for about 20 years and loved the “small town feel of Hudson.”

White has a bachelor’s of science in music technology and computer science from Susquehanna University, which is in central Pennsylvania and a master’s degree in computer science from Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

He has two children, one at the Joseph L. Mulready Elementary School and one at the Advanced Math and Science Academy Charter School in Marlborough. White co-founded two community service organizations, Green Hudson and the Hudson Land Trust, in 2016 and 2017.

White called himself an environmentalist and wants to ensure “I am doing service both to the community and to the environment,” he said.

White said, “I believe that Hudson is a vibrant community, and I think that I have some unique skills and would like to use this opportunity to serve the community.”

Questions

Sue Flicop, a member of the League of Women Voters Wayland, moderated the forum and asked the candidates questions submitted by voters.

The candidates were asked what issue they considered to be the highest priority for Hudson and how they would address it.

Sharek said that starting next year they had “some serious budget issues ahead.” In the 2025 fiscal year, Hudson received flat state aid from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, he said. The unrestricted local aid went up 2% on the municipal side.

“On the school side, it’s an even smaller increase: $104 per child, roughly $243,000 in a $50 million budget. That’s not sustainable,” said Sharek.

For the 2026 fiscal year, things do not look to improve for either the town or the schools in terms of the budget, he said. For that reason, he said, “We need people right now who are seasoned, experienced and ready to make difficult decisions.”

White said with the fiscal challenges facing Hudson in the next year, there are limited options regarding state aid and tax assessments. He believed the town and school funding needs to be prioritized and balanced.

“There are places where we can’t sacrifice. We can’t sacrifice the education of our children. That has to be a priority for us,” said White.

He said public servants, like the police officers and fire department personnel, are also critical.

Bemis said the budget was one of the big issues to address.

“I’m very concerned about the school budget. I’m concerned about the taxes and the potential for a Prop. 2 1/2 override,” said Bemis.

A Proposition 2 1/2 override is when the community votes to temporarily or permanently increase their tax levy limit beyond the 2.5% limit set by Proposition 2 1/2.

She was concerned about those in Hudson in 55-plus communities who are on fixed incomes and whether they could be forced to move if taxes get too high. However, she was also concerned about maintaining the integrity of the schools, which are in the top third in the state among 350 districts.

“We are in good stay, but we need to make sure we preserve the schools because the schools have an impact on your real estate values,” she said.

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