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Write-ins fill empty Hudson school board seats


HUDSON—Voters in the Hudson City School District (HCSD) chose two new members and re-elected an incumbent to the Board of Education in the May 18 school election. Selha Graham and Mark DePace are taking seats on the board; Lucinda Segar will stay on the board for a new three-year term after her current term ends June 30.

Ms. Segar got 504 ballot votes. Ms. Graham, with 81 write-in votes, will start a 3-year term July 1. Mr. DePace, with 80 write-in votes, joined the board immediately to finish an uncompleted term with a year left.

The HCSD approached the May election needing candidates to run for three of its seven seats. Two terms expire in June, and one seat was vacated by a resignation. But only one candidate, Ms. Segar, the incumbent, came forward in time to get on the ballot. The other incumbent decided not to run.

That left two positions to be filled by write-in candidates.

Mr. DePace said he decided run for the board because he was “very surprised” to learn that nobody was running for two open positions. He said that he “recognized there is a need for more community involvement in the school” and he wanted the school board and administration to know “they have support.”

“I’ve heard great things about the HCSD Board and administration,” Mr. DePace said. His son goes to Montgomery C. Smith Elementary School (MCS), and “we’ve had a great experience there.”

On the board, Mr. DePace said he hopes to “bridge the gap between the community and the schools,” while acting “collaboratively” with other board members.

Mr. DePace said he went to elementary through high school in Newburgh and wants “to draw on experiences there.” There are similarities between Newburgh and Hudson, he said.

He has lived in Hudson since 2018, and his son entered MCS after three years of public school in Brooklyn. Mr. DePace owns a company that produces commercials.

Ms. Graham has children currently or recently in Hudson public schools. She has been a leading figure in several ventures and services in the Hudson area.

She said that she decided to seek a seat on the board because as a mother of seven children she has already been involved in the HCSD community and attended pertinent meetings. Three of her children graduated from Hudson High School; others are still in the Hudson City system.

With so many children of color in the HCSD, she said they need more representation on the board.

“It’s easy to critique something when you’re not on it,” but by being on the board, one learns why it makes the decisions it does. Instead of complaining about a situation, one can be part of the solution, by getting involved, she said.

Ms. Graham said her first task on the school board will be to “get acclimated to the system,” adding, “I will be doing a lot of research and studying.”

She is a businessperson who tries out different enterprises. Her ventures have included consulting, tax preparation, groceries, U-haul rentals, and laundry. She is also on the Hudson Tourism Board.

Ms. Graham has lived in the Hudson area since 1994. Her family would come up from Brooklyn to the area to “pick berries,” and her mother “fell in love with the place,” and eventually they moved here for good. One positive feature of the community, Ms. Graham said, is the “love for one another.”

Ms. Graham said that once she decided to run for the board as a write-in, she announced her candidacy on social media.

Ms. Segar said that on the board she intends to continue to work hard to: “help the district improve its goals. We hope the students who graduate from the HCSD are college, career, and citizenship ready.” She also wants to “push for a rigorous curriculum and engaging extracurricular activities,” and to “help the district collaborate with the community.”

As a high school teacher in Catskill, “I see my students longing for education that connects directly with their lives. I’d like to see engaging courses applicable to their lives. To help them grow. Integrate education with their lives.”

Being on the school board, she said, she has learned “so much about school board law and how policies are made.”

The thing she likes best about it, she said, is serving on the policy committee. Another is seeing “how dedicated all members of the HCSD are” from the custodians to the superintendent. “They’re dedicated people who work hard. I appreciate that so much.”

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