On primary day last week, voters in Hudson backed a challenger to the incumbent mayor.
Hudson Mayor Rick Rector was defeated by 1st Ward Alderman Kamal Johnson.
Over a thousand Democratic primary voters in the Columbia County city of about 6,700 made it to the polls on June 25th. Johnson soundly defeated Mayor Rector 678 to 354, according to "unofficial" data posted by the Board of Elections. "This is actually something I've wanted to do since I was 15 years old. A story that I've often told during my campaign is when I was in 11th grade, I would always get the class riled up and the teacher would always call me 'the mayor of the classroom' because everyone used to follow behind everything I did. And as I became more active in the community people would always call me 'the unofficial mayor of Hudson.' "
Rector and Johnson debated in mid-May. Johnson grew up in Hudson, making his first foray into politics two years ago when he ran for alderman. "I did that because the state of our youth center was basically disastrous. I walked in for the first time in what I wanna say a few years and this was one of the establishments that saved my life as a kid and stopped me from going in so many wrong directions, so to see it not have the programs it deserved and to see it falling apart and holes in the wall, and I would always go to the common council meetings and say 'I really wanna do something about this. This is the city telling the youth that we don't have high expectations for them.' And they would always say 'you know, you have great ideas but you're not at the table. You gotta be at the table.' So after hearing that a bunch of time, knock-knock it's time to get at that table, so I kinda threw my hat in the race for councilman."
Johnson says his passion for leadership made running for mayor the next logical step. "My original plan was to run in two years, but after seeing, basically I'll start with my street, Union Street, I don't have a lot of neighbors anymore, so I'm like 'in two years would there even be a city of actual constituents who live here?' That's why I said my time is now and I felt it, like I felt it in my soul that this is my time."
Dave Lucas - "Where have all these neighbors gone?"
"They've been priced out because housing is way too high. There's an epidemic of short-term rentals and there's basically no job opportunities that actually pay, where you're not just paying your whole paycheck to your rent and you don't have money for anything else."
During the debate, Rector said the existing "One Hudson" program addresses numeous city issues and brings community members together.
Tuesday night he conceded to Johnson. "As to the future, I'm evaluating all options and I also want to extend my big kudos to every candidate, whether they won or lost. Stepping up to the plate and saying you want to serve your community is quite a big deal and requires a lot of time, energy and effort. And my hat is off to everyone who's done that. I thank my supporters of course, they made my life a lot easier and I give them a lotta credit for doing a lot of lot of hard work and importantly I congratulate Kamal for winning the primary."
Rector had also been nominated by the Republican, Conservative and Independence parties, so he could still run a fall campaign.