Historic traditions continued in Columbia and Greene counties Wednesday as two top leaders were sworn into office.
Kamal Johnson cemented his place in Columbia County annals when he became Hudson’s first African-American mayor. Johnson is the latest in a series of city pioneer leaders. He follows Tiffany Martin, Hudson’s first elected female mayor, and Rick Rector, the city’s first openly gay mayor.
In Greene County, Peter Kusminsky, a senior state police investigator, became the new sheriff. Kusminsky upheld a long and estimable Greene County succession of state police officials elevating to the position of Greene County’s top lawman. Kusminsky ran in the county’s only opposed race and prevailed by more than 5,000 votes.
Now that the speeches are delivered and the applause has died down, the question is, what happens next? Hudson stands at a critical moment in history. Officials must decide to emphasize attraction of outside investors or empower and serve city residents who have been there for generations.
Kusminsky has assembled a crack team of investigators and support staff to assist him in his first term. One essential quality of a good leader is hiring good help. “You are only as good as the people behind you,” Kusminsky said Wednesday. “I think we’ll do great things.”
Although their jobs are quite different, Johnson and Kusminsky will face the ongoing scourge of the opioid epidemic. Problems including crime, the city budget and safeguarding the rights of all segments of the population await Johnson. Kusminsky will likely become the first sheriff in charge of the controversial new $44 million Greene County Jail, a project we see as wasteful and unnecessary.
This will be an interesting year for all newly elected officials. We wish them the best of luck.