Emily Siegel Stanton was inspired to run for school board by the members of the school board. She remembers watching the group work hard at meetings, and she realized she wanted to be one of the people who helps take charge of the community.

“People have to sit at the table to do the hard work and make important decisions and make things happen,” Stanton said. “At this time in our country, coping with Coronavirus and all the important stuff we’re facing, I felt like I was ready to lend some energy to that, step forward, and be one of those people helping make our community stronger.”

Once she decided she wanted to do the hard work, the campaign started. Local elections can be won based on name recognition alone, but the Albany County Educator’s Association put on a forum for the candidates, and Stanton was thankful for the opportunity to speak to voters with her fellow candidates.

“I really want to thank the Albany County Educator’s Association,” Stanton said. “They put together a forum where all the candidates could speak on some of the issues. I think sometimes with local elections, we can wind up in a popularity contest. I think that the diligence with which they put together that forum allowed voters to hear directly from all of the candidates about the issues, and that’s what’s most important in voting. So, I’d like to thank them for bringing the candidates together so that we could learn about each other and allow voters to hear from us, rather than just running on community name recognition.”

When all the votes were tallied, Stanton found out she was one of the newest Albany County School District board members.

“I was very happy,” Stanton said. “It was very rewarding to put effort into a campaign and earn the voters’ trust. And a little intimidating. Campaigning is exciting, winning is fun, and hard work is hard work. I’d be dishonest to say I wasn’t a little bit sobered by the facts of the tasks I’m about to take on. Those are very different from the tasks of a campaign.”

Among the duties Stanton will have, she does have a few goals. While hesitant to discuss exact goals due to the uncertainty of our times, she does have some ideas that she will hold on to and keep at the forefront of her time as a school board member.

“During the time of COVID, one of the things I want to accomplish is having each segment of the community feel heard,” Stanton said. “There are so many different needs right now, and they can’t all be met at one time. But even in and among that, I want all of the segments of the community is to feel heard. One of the things I want to accomplish would be community engagement around funding of education. I’d like to help raise awareness about what’s going in our state legislature and the ways education is being handled from a financial perspective at the top. It’s not just a fact of life that budget cuts happen, these are choices our legislature are making. I’d like to help engage our community around being aware of those choices of our legislature.

“Other things I want to accomplish, this is a time when society at large is thinking about non-dominant populations, whether that’s the LGBT community, people of color, and our native students, one of the things I’d like to bring is an eye toward equity and an eye toward students who don’t necessarily have their voices heard all the time, families who don’t have their voices heard all the time. So those are some things I want to bring my attention to.”

Stanton also wants to be seen as a type of board member who is always there to help. Someone who is always there to listen to her constituents and make sure the constituents know they were heard.

“I hope they view me as present, both to their calls and emails and their personal concerns,” Stanton said. “I won’t be able to write a policy to address every single person’s concerns, just because they’ll be so different. But I hope people view me as present and hearing their concerns and doing what I can do to create balance among community needs, whether that’s around COVID or other issues. I hope that they view me as present on the board. I hope to be able to share my thinking. Even if people disagree with a vote I might make, I hope to be able to share my thinking and be transparent about how I’m drawing my conclusions.”

Stanton will join the board starting on Dec. 1, and she will focus on making sure everyone is heard, and everyone is represented.

“But also toward the community, a really important quality is always keeping an eye on some of our most vulnerable members of our community, not necessarily those that have the loudest voices,” Stanton said.