• James Armstrong

Hudson mayoralty candidate Bill Nash ready to deal with hot button issues


PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG

Hudson resident Bill Nash, pictured here with his wife Chantal Perreault, artist, and resident John Manning at the Expo Art Exhibit Vente/Sale, will be running for position of mayor in the November municipal elections.

Hudson resident Bill Nash has a vision for his hometown and believes he can make it happen in what will be his first plunge into the political pond. Nash and his wife Chantal Perreault moved to Hudson four years ago and Nash says that has given him time to observe what is happening in the town.

“I see a beautiful place to live that is dysfunctional,” he said during an interview Tuesday, May 2. “We moved here just after the last (municipal) election, so we didn’t see what it was like before but we have heard about it,” he added noting Mayor Ed Prévost and his administration have had a lot of cleaning up to do.

Qualifications and background

With an extensive background in senior management and administration in the public and private sectors, Nash describes himself as well qualified to take on the responsibilities that pertain to being the Mayor of Hudson. He served as a member of the administrative council for the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ). He was also a board member and president of the Corporation Félix Hubert d’Hérelle an organization that provides care for people living with HIV/AIDS who are no longer able to look after themselves. Recently retired, Nash says he has the time to take on the task of being mayor.

PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG

Bill Nash says fiscal responsibility, transparency, and trust are high on his agenda.

Pine Lake

“Pine Lake is coming back, and it’s not going to cost three-quarters of a million dollars,” Nash said, noting the lake is iconic, will provide a good impression on the way into the centre of Hudson, and is important to landowners around the lake. Although he was unwilling to divulge specifics, Nash said he has some innovative ideas for the project. “There are other ways to do this and we have to find them,” he said.

Sandy Beach

“It breaks my heart to see it go, but that die was cast years ago and the owner is quite adamant about developing,” said Nash. He and Hudson artist and resident Daniel Gautier had met with Hans Muehlegg, the owner of Nicanco Holdings, in December 2016 to explore the possibility of purchasing the beach and part of the adjacent land. “That didn’t work out… the price he wants to sell at doesn’t make sense.”

Strategic Plan

“There is no question that the town needs development. It’s been stagnating for a long time,” Nash said, adding the strategic plan should be revisited every two years for a reality check. He described recently driving through the business centre of town and counting the ‘For Rent’ signs. “It’s rapidly becoming a ghost town.” Nash emphasized the importance arts and culture and the need for innovation in his vision of the future for the town.

Arts and Culture

“We have very few outlets for the many artists we have in town. What is revealing is that when the Studio Tour happens, we see all the great work artists are creating and there are no outlets,” said Nash. Culturally, he would like to see the former fire hall become an artistic centre for the town. “It’s a prime location on Main Road being used as a garage,” he said. For Nash, the abundance of cultural creativity in Hudson is a magnet that will bring people into the town.

Community organizations and innovation

Nash supports the Hudson Heartbeet Community Farm project and sees it as an example of a community project that has the strong possibility of being successful, durable, and efficient. For Nash, existing community organizations are an important factor in the town’s development. “They are what give Hudson a sense of community and sometimes they need a little nudge as well as our support,” he said.

He emphasized the need to pool all the creative resources of the town to develop innovative solutions. In the same vein, he said that he looks forward to working with his opponent, Jamie Nicholls, regardless of the outcome of the election.

Transparency and trust

The most important and continuing challenge for Nash is the lack of trust and the issue of transparency. “You can’t legislate transparency. It’s a culture and attitude change. It has to be instilled,” he said. “We have to behave in a way that citizens are able to trust their council and municipal organization.” He noted, however, transparency costs money. “We desperately need someone who is skilled and knowledgeable to be in charge of communications.” He emphasized providing citizens with dependable information in a timely manner will help build trust.

Good governance and fiscal responsibility

Nash described citizens as the shareholders in the town and the mayor and council as having the responsibility of overseeing a $12 million budget. Nash questions whether or not current fiscal controls are well designed and followed. In his opinion, all is not well in that regard in the town’s administration. He said that for the 2014 and 2015 audited financial statements, the auditors refused to express an opinion. “The new council will have to take a hard look at how money is managed in the town and fix it.”

Nash was also concerned about the absence of a treasurer for the town. Town council’s decision Tuesday, May 16, to hire an individual who is not a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) raised some flags for Nash. “We have to wait and see how that person performs.” He agreed with council that a professional designation does not necessarily guarantee success in a post. “The treasurer reports to the Director General and the council has an oversight role,” he added. Nash said he does not want to micro-manage the town and emphasized that people need to be able to fulfill their designated role.

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