Hudson mayor looking to brighter future
Prevost, who will celebrate his 76th birthday —HUDSON in May, admits he is considered a “neophyte” in a town that marks its locals by the number of generations in which they’ve lived in Hudson.
“I moved here in 2004 so I’m as green as they come,” he said with a laugh.
A seemingly easygoing man, Prevost has not had much to laugh about lately.
Borrowing U.S. president-elect Donald Trump’s analogy, he said his administration was hired to clean up the swamp. “And we’ve been cleaning it, and it’s not fun.”
Asked if it’s now clean? Prevost said, “It’s a lot cleaner. I can’t say we’re one-hundred percent done because there’s more to come.”
He will do as much as he can until this year’s general election, but the aforementioned health issues mean Prevost is not likely to seek re-election.
“My plan was to rerun but unfortunately my health got in the way... I think it’s wise to leave the position open to another candidate that’s healthier,” he said.
“If I had my druthers there’s nothing I’d rather do. When I committed myself to this venture it was really for two terms.”
Prevost admits he was blindsided in July, 2016 when Rob Spenser, a former town councillor who has since moved from Hudson, tabled 151 allegations against him with MAMROT, Quebec’s ministry of municipal affairs. “It was a very nasty kind of thing... it came out of left field,” he said.
“Most of the things were pure figments of the imagination.”
And though he was fully exonerated after going to court in October, 2016 in a 16-page decision that dismissed “each and every accusation,” Prevost said the experience took a toll.
“When you get accused of all kinds of stuff it weighs on you... it weighed on me, and my wife and kids and grandkids. You can’t say anything, but in a town of this size where everyone and his brother knows everything, it’ll drive you crazy.”
Prevost doesn’t think the accusations were personal but tied to a decision to suspend a director general who his administration inherited after taking office.
‘I tried to work with her every which way, but there was no way.”
Prevost suspended the employee in a decision that was supported by council in a 4 - 2 vote. Spenser was one of the two to vote against the decision.
The employee has since sued the town in labour court. A decision is expected early this year.
He also had to deal with what he called a “culture of entitlement” with certain town employees that included not having income tax deductions taken at the source, being paid in cash, having use of town credit cards, and more. “You can’t dissolve all that overnight. When you take away privileges from people that had become accustomed to them, there’s a lot of resentment,” he said. And Hudson is trying to emerge from the black cloud cast by former director general Louise Léger-Villandré, who was accused and convicted of defrauding the town of more than a million dollars. She served time for the crime and was granted full parole late last year.
Ed Prevost was probably glad to turn the calendar on 2016.The past year saw the Hudson mayor battling major health issues, grappling with “the mess” he inherited since taking office three years ago, and defending himself against more than 150 breach of ethics allegations, among many other challenges.
FOCUSING ON THE POSITIVE
Prevost calls Hudson a very special place that exist as if the rest of the world doesn’t. The challenge, he said, is convincing those who feel the town should “remain the way its alway been,” that money is desperately needed.
Prevost feels development is the way to go.
A newly developed strategic plan includes defining Hudson as an arts and culture destination.
“The major block in doing things quickly is money. We don’t have an industrial base so development will allow us to implement the strategic plan,” he said, adding they are applying for all grant and subsidy funds for which they qualify.
Ideas being considered include the development of a micro farming community that will allow youths to learn agricultural skills, work with animals and sell what they grow. Summertime rickshaw transportation and kayak rentals are also future considerations.
“We have our share of naysayers who are doing everything possible to stop any kind of evolution, but I think you convince naysayers by doing things.”
When asked if 2017 will be a better year? Prevost didn’t hesitate.
“There’s no question. In fact, I think the next number of years will be exponentially better.”
Hudson mayor Ed Prevost will most likely not seek re-election later this year, but says the town is on the right track to a better future.