By Laura Hayes, Contributing Writer
HUDSON – Nine candidates for Select Board and School Committee spent the evening April 21 answering constituents’ questions.
The Meet the Hudson Candidates night was hosted by the Assabet Valley Chamber of Commerce. Each candidate had nine minutes for their opening and closing statements. They then each also responded to three questions.
With two members retiring and five candidates vying for their seats, there will be new faces on the Select Board this year.
Meanwhile, four candidates, including one incumbent, are running for three seats on the School Committee.
Select Board candidates answered questions about their vision for Hudson, social justice issues and ways to improve communication.
Abbott, who works in real estate, said it’s been his dream to hold office. He suggested using social media and polls to improve communication.
“No one likes surprise developments,” he said. “I know that from experience living right next to the rotary.”
Abbott voiced his support for renewable energy and affordable housing in Hudson, noting that the cost of living has increased.
Michael Burks Sr.
Burks, Hudson’s former police chief, decided to run after learning about Vice-Chair John Parent’s retirement.
“Historically, I have led teams, managed in times of crisis and communicated with the public in a way that was fact-based and informative,” Burks said.
He envisions Hudson becoming a recycling leader. Another goal is to increase the number of minority, women and LGBTQIA candidates for job openings.
Dandrick “Ricky” Gelin
Gelin is a 2012 Hudson High School graduate and a Historical Commission member.
Working at Cumberland Farms, Gelin said he would hear residents’ concerns. Some felt that their opinions weren’t heard or that they couldn’t provide them because they worked when meetings were held.
Gentrification is leading to community disintegration, and some residents can no longer live in Hudson because of the cost of living, he said.
“I want to see a new generation of townies,” Gelin said.
Sadowski is a Finance Committee member.
“I’m running for selectmen because I feel that voices need to be heard in town, which it’s not right now,” Sadowski said. “I’m a blue-collar worker. I was, again, a restaurant worker, and those voices need to be spoken for.”
Improving communication is one of his first goals, he said. Sadowski, who regularly attends Select Board meetings, said he’s felt unwelcome.
He advocated for more community engagement through events, such as Hudson Fest. He further called on the town to advertise events on road signs.
Schaeffer, a retired Hudson firefighter, said he’s running for change, accountability and transparency.
He supports resident involvement and said he would work with the Legislature to rebuild bridges over the Assabet River.
“Moving forward, we need to have safe drinking water, a well-diverse community, a great school system and town departments that are the envy of the state,” Schaeffer said.
If elected, Schaffer plans to donate his stipend to the Hudson Food Pantry.
School Committee candidates were asked about diversity, areas of improvement and efforts to address pandemic setbacks.
MacKenzie works at Waltham Public Library and has a kindergarten student.
She advocated addressing inequity, substance use and the achievement gap, improving the district’s accountability ranking and improving feedback.
“I’m here to listen to you,” she told voters. “After all, that’s one of the main roles of a school committee member, to listen to the community and bring your voices to the table or, better yet, bring you to the table.”
Maston is a seven-year School Committee member.
He touted the committee’s hiring of Superintendent Marco Rodrigues and the launch of a new dual language program.
“I think it’s important to maintain stability in our leadership as we move through this difficult period,” Maston said.
Instructional practices are one area of improvement, he said. He anticipated that it will be part of the new district improvement plan.
Terra-Salomão is an architect, a Historical Commission member and a Hudson High School graduate.
Terra-Salomão supports more communication, moving away from discipline for minor disruptions, and reviewing the dress code.
He advocated for voters to elect new candidates.
“I think it’s a rare opportunity to elect a new majority slate of School Committee members, and I believe Hudson voters should take hold of that opportunity,” he said.
Yates was on the School Committee from 2001-2011.
“There’s a sense of frustration in town that voices aren’t heard,” Yates said.
He’s felt that same frustration when attendees have been asked to sign up to speak at meetings. Yates said he’s running to be a “stronger” voice on the committee.
He proposed refocusing on social/emotional and community-based learning, supporting special education and examining declining enrollment.
Hudson’s election is scheduled for Monday, May 10. The Community Advocate will be publishing extended statements from Select Board and School Committee candidates next week.