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Hudson makes history in mayoral race

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Mayor-elect Kamal Johnson and his daughter, Asia, on Election Day 2019.
November 7, 2019 05:43 pm Updated: November 7, 2019 11:15 pm

HUDSON — Hudson’s mayor-elect is ready to hit the ground running on his first day in office in January.

Kamal Johnson, a Democrat, won handily over his opponent, incumbent and fellow Democrat Rick Rector, 926-395, in machine votes in the General Election on Tuesday. Early voting results, which were posted and then taken down, were not available as of press time Thursday.

“It’s a humbling experience to know that we got the numbers we did,” Johnson said.

Johnson is Hudson’s first African-American mayor and, at 34, will be one of city’s youngest mayors when he is inaugurated in January. But when it comes to making history, Johnson was humble.

“I want to project on my community that it doesn’t matter what you look like or where you come from, that you can still accomplish your dreams,” Johnson said.

Johnson said he made the voters part of his campaign, and he and his campaign staff made a point to listen more than they spoke to the residents.

“Everything coming out of our campaign was genuine,” he said.

Johnson defeated Rector, who shut down his campaign in September, in the primary race for mayor in June by almost 2-to-1, 678-354. That number did not include absentee votes.

Johnson has served one term as alderman of the city’s 1st Ward. Johnson has lived in Hudson since he was 8 years old. Johnson said he is excited to be part of one of the most diverse Common Councils in the history of the city this year, and each member learned a lot from one another.

Johnson called it an “inspiration to see leadership that looks and represents the city.”

Johnson said he wants to be a mayor that is known for taking action. He has met with the Galvan Foundation to discuss the affordable housing crisis and vacancy rates in the city. He met with officials from Columbia Memorial Health about keeping birthing services in the city. He also wants to develop a closer partnership with the Hudson City School District. To that end, Johnson has joined the district’s Leadership Team and will promote the Early Learning Literacy Network program throughout the county, which has a 47 percent literacy rate, he said.

Johnson graduated from Columbia-Greene Community College in 2005 and SUNY New Paltz in 2007 with degrees in early childhood education and history. He is co-director of Greater Hudson Promise Neighborhood and is the coordinator of the POPs Fatherhood Initiative — a group that helps fathers connect to their families. He also serves as chairman of the Youth and Police committees of the Hudson Common Council.

Johnson said his first move when taking office will be making appointments to boards and committees, and ensuring the qualified people are serving in the right positions. One of the areas he wants to focus on is making the waterfront more accessible to the public.

After his primary loss in June, Rector remained on the ballot with Independent and Republican endorsements. But Rector ended his campaign Sept. 4 instead of running on either of those party lines, calling himself a “proud, progressive liberal Democrat.”

Johnson ran alongside incumbent Common Council President Thomas DePietro. Without early voting results and absentees, DePietro held a strong lead with 763 votes early Thursday afternoon against challenger Rob Bujan, who was running on the Republican, Conservative and Independent lines. Bujan got 480 votes.

DePietro said he was thrilled to be re-elected, saying it shows the majority of the Common Council reflects what the majority of the people want for the city.

“I campaigned on accomplishment and vision, and never once went negative about my challenger,” DePietro said. “I made campaign promises back in 2017, and fulfilled them — we have a more open and more youth-friendly city, and we’ve made the first big step in dealing with our housing crisis. I thank all my supporters, especially the team supporting Hudson’s next mayor, Kamal Johnson, with whom I am eager to work in 2020. Finally, I have no ill will against those who made me prove my worth to the voters by supporting Rob Bujan; everyone has a place at the table.”

To reach reporter Amanda Purcell, call 518-828-1616 ext. 2500, or send an email to apurcell@thedailymail.net, or tweet to @amandajpurcell.