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Candidates for Regents seat include 4 area residents

Four area residents are among the candidates vying for four open positions on the state Board of Regents, which the State Legislature is expected to decide upon March 10.

Stacey Watson, the executive director of the South Buffalo Education Center, is among the candidates. She is also a teacher at the center, where people without high school diplomas can earn their GEDs.

She's won the backing of Assembly members Mark Schroeder and Sam Hoyt, who are lobbying their colleagues to vote her in.

Watson, 33, of Buffalo has been instrumental in turning the Seneca Street facility into the state's most successful GED program, and she believes her youth and experience would be beneficial to the Regents board, Schroeder said.

"If you look at the Regents across the state as I have, there are wonderful people who are academics and they have all the letters of the alphabet after their names," Schroeder said. "But the graduation rate in Buffalo is 46 percent. In New York City, it's 49 percent . . . There are 7 million New Yorkers who are in need of adult education. My view is Stacey Watson brings perspective to Regents that does not exist."

Watson and other candidates interviewed before the chairmen of the education and higher education committees last week in Albany.

Other candidates include:

*Catherine Collins, a member of the Buffalo Board of Education. She serves as the board's vice president of executive affairs.

*Dr. Jane Griffin, principal research scientist for Buffalo's Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute.

*Wade Norwood, a member of the Buffalo Fiscal Stability Authority. He is the director of community engagement for Finger Lakes Health Systems and is a former member of the Rochester City Council.

One of the vacancies on the Regents was left by Arnold Gardner, a Buffalo attorney who has served on the Regents since 1999, who opted not to seek another five-year term.

e-mail: mbecker@buffnews.com

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