Monday, September 28, 2009

Answers to Register-Star Candidate Profile Questionnaire

Candidate Profile Questionnaire

Name: William Hughes Jr.
Age: 43
Place of residence: 307 State Street, Hudson NY 12534
How long you’ve lived in the county: 43 years
Office being sought: Supervisor 4th Ward Hudson
Incumbent? Yes
Party affiliation: Democrat

Endorsements received: Hudson City Democratic Committee, Working Families Party, Independence Party, Conservative Party.
Previous elected offices:
Supervisor 4th Ward 2007 - 2009, Alderman 4th Ward 2003 - 2007

Education: Hudson High School Graduate

Occupation: Retired/ Columbia Co. employee
Years in that occupation: 10

Ever been convicted of a crime? No
Family: Wife: Adebola (Deb) Hughes, Senior Strategy Consultant, IBM

Current member:
  • Shiloh Baptist Church.
  • Columbia Co. Empire Zone Committee.
  • 103AD Judicial Delegate.
  • City of Hudson/Columbia Co./NYS Democratic Committeeman.
  • Monthly payroll contributor to the United Way.
Past member:
  • Chairman, Columbia Co. Youth Advisory Board.
  • Hudson Youth Advisory Board.
  • Columbia Co. Minority Task Force.
  • Hudson Development Corp.
  • Hudson Community Development and Planning Agency.
  • Hudson Industrial Development Agency.
  • Board of Directors of the Boy’s and Girl’s Club.
  • Award: 2005 NAACP’s community service person of the year award
What do you think are the top three issues facing Hudson?

Taxes: Continue to work with City and County officials to lower City and County taxes by keeping spending down. Increase Hudson’s taxable property/housing stock, by helping private developers build new housing. Work with Mayor Scalera and other elected officials to make Hudson more attractive for capital investment. Work with and encourage municipal cooperation from other towns and villages that would save taxpayers money.

Housing: Hudson has a great deal of boarded up homes not on the tax rolls. I will continue to work with Mayor Scalera, public and private developers to get these properties fixed up and back on the tax rolls. Continue to work toward redeveloping our low-income and affordable housing stock, by working with City, State and Federal officials to build new better quality homes.

Jobs: This is the biggest issue residents of Hudson are facing. If re-elected I will work hard over the next couple of years to redevelop the lower half of Hudson. Hudson is in need of capital investments that would revitalize its economy. Developing the Waterfront is a big part of that, but not the only part. The development of Club Helsinki, Opera House and Cannonball Factory in the 4th Ward is crucial to the revitalization of Hudson’s economy. Understanding this, I have been and will continue to work with Mayor Scalera and other elected officials to address the needs of these facilities. One of which is parking. I have been working hard to address this problem, by writing a congressional appropriation for the construction of a new parking garage, which will be crucial once these businesses are operating at full capacity. Developing a working Waterfront and a vibrant city will work toward all of the issues of importance I have outlined. It will increase the need for affordable housing, help lower taxes, create jobs and encourage future capital investments.
    If you are the incumbent, what are you most proud of accomplishing?

    The thing I am most proud of is, I redrafted the County’s Ethics Policy and had it pass the Board of Supervisors with a unanimous vote.

    Fought alongside my fellow City, County and State elected officials to keep the Hudson Correctional Facility open.

    I led the fight on the County level, for the City of Hudson to get additional sales tax revenue. As a result, the City of Hudson was able to get $75,000 additional dollars, above the additional $40,000 per quarter negotiated by Mayor Scalera several years ago. In 2008 Hudson received a total of $1.4 million in sales tax revenue, which was used to keep Hudson’s 2009 taxes from going up.

    I am proud to have led the fight on the County Board of Supervisors and to be one of the loudest opponents against the movement of DSS out of the City of Hudson. I believe, this move would be a financial and social blow to the City of Hudson.

    Was able to encourage several changes in the County’s youth employment program. Although each Supervisor gets one spot, I was able to work with my fellow County Supervisors to get seven youth from the City of Hudson hired into the program.

    I’m proud of the fact, that because of the hard work I did during my first term as a County Supervisor, my fellow Democrats voted to appoint me Deputy Minority Leader of the Columbia Co. Board of Supervisors.

    A New Vision of Affordable Housing


    A New Vision of Affordable Housing Here

    Link to the original story in the Register-Star

    Bliss Towers on Second Street between Columbia and State streets in Hudson.
    By Jamie Larson Hudson-Catskill Newspapers
    Published: Saturday, September 26, 2009 1:16 AM CDT

    City and Hudson Housing Authority officials met with residents of the Bliss Towers low-income housing complex Thursday night to discuss the future of affordable subsidized housing in Hudson. The plan involves creating numerous smaller housing units throughout areas of the city and eventually demolish the problem ridden high-rise and low-rise at the intersection of Columbia and Second streets.

    Officials said the plan to create up-to-date, more comfortable and convenient housing will increase the quality of life for those living in the Housing Authority run apartments. Though the plan is in its infancy, officials wanted to meet with residents to lay out their intentions and alleviate any concerns that those living in the complex would be displaced. “This will be a benefit to Hudson, but most importantly it will be a benefit to all of you,” Supervisor William Hughes told residents at the meeting. “We want to eliminate the fear factor immediately.”

    According to New York State Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) standards, officials said, any new housing project would have to provide at least the exact same number of units currently provided by the Hudson Housing Authority. Nearly every official who spoke at the gathering stressed repeatedly that not only would no resident be displaced, but their rent would not be increased beyond the Section 8 subsidy standard of one third of a resident’s monthly income.

    At the outset of the meeting Hughes said that nothing about the project is set in stone and tenants are encouraged to get involved and give input on all aspects of the process. Housing Authority Executive Director Jeffrey First said everyone needs to have a clear understanding that it may take years just to find the funding for the project and perhaps a decade before it could be completed. “We went through this 10 years ago and it was very uncomfortable,”

    First said, “because everyone thought the high-rise was coming down in two weeks.”First said that starting the process to plan for new housing now is imperative so that something can actually be accomplished in the future, whatever the final shape of the project may look like. First spoke bluntly to the residents, who he works with closely on a daily basis, calling Bliss Towers a “money pit.” He said the Housing Authority has spent $11 million in the last 10 to 15 years trying to maintain the building. The complex was built during the Urban Renewal project of the 1970s. First said the standards then just are not sufficient to meet the needs of residents today.

    First said that past plans to create low-income housing had to be abandoned when revenue sources through HUD were pulled by the government during the administration of President George W. Bush. Now however, President Barrack Obama has shown renewed interest and support for improving the quality of subsidized housing. Much of the Housing Authority’s plan hinges on whether or not The U.S. Congress passes the Livable Communities Act. The legislation would bring back the type of HUD funding the Hudson project needs.

    The Housing Authority has hired Omni Housing Development, LLC, to develop the city’s new housing plan. At Thursday’s public meeting Omni Chief Operating Officer Duncan Barrett broke down the few absolutes about what the project would entail if it moves forward, and tried to emphasize the importance of the notion that residents will be able to help sculpt the process. Barrett said that HUD looks for funding requests from projects that have a high level of community involvement, so the more that Bliss residents can do to make the plan a ground-up process the better.

    “This (tower) has been lived-up beyond its useful life and is functionally obsolete,” Barrett said, adding, “these things take a long time. You shouldn’t expect immediate results here, but you should demand good results. And no one has to move until we have built you a new house, it’s as simple as that.”

    Many of the questions involved the costs and amenities of the potential apartments. Barrett said those details are flexible and are the kinds of things his company will be looking to discuss with the community in the future.

    Some of the proposed housing will be in the footprints of where the high-rise and low-rise now stand. The idea of seeding Section 8 housing throughout the city to create economic diversity was well-received by the crowd.

    Barrett also said that, as opposed to the current system, senior and family unit would be separated in the new one to four unit structures. This way senior specific, and handicapped amenities can be provided to those who need them.

    Hughes said that while this proposal should bring hope to Bliss residents everyone needs to be patient because the speed that the project will move forward will depend completely on acquiring funding. He said residents need to call the offices of their political representatives to show that they want this. Hughes says he has discussed beginning an advisory committee with Mayor Richard Scalera, Jeffrey First, city officials and Housing Authority residents to ensure the project doesn’t fall to the back burner.

    The numerous other officials in the room, including the residents representation on the Common Council, Second Ward Aldermen Wanda Pertilla and Abdus Miah, said they are available to answer their constituents questions and concerns, and hope the community can come together to push the project forward as well as continue to spread the word that not one resident will be displaced.

    My words:
    As promised, this story substantiates the fact that I'm working hard to improve the housing conditions in the City of Hudson. Mayor Scalera and I along with other elected officials have embarked on an ambitious project that would redevelop the lower half of Hudson, including the Bliss Tower's area. It is our belief, that with the redevelopment of the lower half of Hudson, we will make the City of Hudson more marketable to capital investors, creating jobs as a result. Obviously, this will not happen overnight. Mayor Scalera and I have put a 3 - 5 year time-line in place to get the project off the ground. Getting funding for a project of this magnitude will take a lot of hard work and dedication from all involved. If we are successful with the development of the Waterfront, Bliss Tower's area and implementation of a County wide transportation system, the City of Hudson will be the benefactor. As a result, I believe, we will be able to lower taxes, create jobs, and make Hudson the place to be in Columbia County.
    William Hughes Jr.
    4th Ward Supervisor
    City of Hudson
    Col. Co. Bd. of Supervisors
    " Let experience work for you"