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May 11, 2016 – And on my way to serving this happened! City Dems in disarray _________________________________________________________________
February 24, 2016 Newburgh has its first convictions for dumping! I was very proud to have introduced the legislation that increased our fines for dumping. As a result of it, three Newburgh residents were convicted in city court for violating the city’s anti-dumping law, (which was adopted by the city council in September of 2015). Article appeared in the Mid-Hudson News
Support Growing to Increase Wages – July 2015, Article appeared in the Hudson Valley Press
April 27, 2015 Councilwoman Mejia calls for Equity and Fairness when addressing blight and housing conditions.
April 22, 2015: Land Bank Has Completed its First Project – Hudson Valley Press click here for the article
Times Herald‑Record. 5 days ago – … city,” said Ward 1 Councilwoman Karen Mejia, who sits on the Land Bank’s board and counts Lander Street among the blocks in her ward.
Times Herald‑Record. Mar 29, 2015 – CITY OF NEWBURGH – Ward 1 Councilwoman Karen Mejia is planning a forum on housing issues in response to the deaths of three people …
Mejía Welcomes Intern for Newburgh’s Ward 1 – Article in Hudson Valley Insider
Tyrone Crabb Park – Reconstruction
“It’s important to deliver on this community commitment. Once completed this park will anchor South Street and create a beautiful gateway into the heart of the historic district” stated Ward 1 councilwoman, Karen Mejia.
Taken from Mid-Hudson Times, January 15, 2014: City marks new page in history
The much-anticipated enlargement of the City of Newburgh’s council form of government drew a capacity crowd Saturday at City Hall for a ceremonial swearing-in of four councilwomen elected this past November. The new council members actually were sworn in on Jan. 1 and have met twice since.
Friends and families of Karen Mejia, Ward 1; Genie Abrams, Ward 2; Regina Angelo, Ward 3; and Cindy Holmes, Ward 4, packed the Council Chambers of City Hall to witness Judge Eddie Loren Williams administering the oath of office to the newest members of the Newburgh City Council.
It was just a week earlier that Judge Williams was sworn into office as a City of Newburgh Court judge in the same Council Chambers. By officially taking office, Mejia, Abrams, Angelo and Holmes carved out a place in city history after winning district seats in the first Charter change since 1918.
The referendum, approved overwhelmingly by city voters in 2011, enlarged the City Council to seven members – four council members elected from basically even-populated districts, two council members elected citywide and a mayor, who is also elected citywide.
Mayor Judy Kennedy, who first won office in that same November 2011 election, commented Saturday that she had been very much in favor of expanding the council to seven members, but acknowledged it was the vision of her predecessor, then-Mayor Nicholas Valentine, to create the expanded council via a ward system.
“I think you should have your moment,” Kennedy said in encouraging Valentine to address the gathering that included Representative Frank Skartados, County Legislator James Kulisek and Chris Mara, representing Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney.
“I watched the first meeting you had … I watch all of your meetings,” he said. “But Mayor Kennedy’s right. The legacy that I think of most is the fact that we finally got this Charter change in effect. I tried three times. Fortunately, the last year that I was in office there was a very, very good committee that was formed and their decision, along with the City Council, was to take the decision to the voters.
“And the voters of Newburgh overwhelmingly said that they wanted to see what you see up here now – a Charter change, wards and at-large council members and a mayor [in a council] expanded so all of Newburgh is represented. With this group up here, there is no part of Newburgh that doesn’t have a voice at this table.”
Valentine said that residents can still voice their opinions at council meetings, but if they don’t attend the meetings, they can still corner their council representative and feel that they have a voice.
“You didn’t have that years ago,” he said. “In fact, the last Charter change was in 1918. We are certainly a different city than we were in 1918.”
Mayor Kennedy said she had been in favor of the Charter change from the beginning.
“What a momentous day,” she commented at the beginning of the day’s celebration. “The spirit here is the spirit I’ve been talking about for two years and it’s growing and taking root. It’s collaboration and it’s spreading, it’s working … I can’t tell you how much I’m hearing, out in the streets, out and around, from Albany … all over the place,” she said.
“Something new is happening in the City of Newburgh. And now, with this new Council and its new members all supporting and aligning themselves behind that act, that idea can pick up momentum and strength and energy.
“Each of you,” she said, speaking directly to the new members of the council, “adds to that.”
She said she is hearing such promising words as “togetherness” and “sisterhood” and “collaboration” associated with the new council and believes this bodes well for the future of the city.
“This is the first step in the right direction,” she said.
After the oaths of office taken by the four new councilwomen, each was given an opportunity to address the crowd.
Mejia, going first as the representative of the 1st Ward, thanked her husband, daughter and all those “who helped make this dream a reality.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to serve this great city of ours,” she said. “As I’ve said many times, ‘Newburgh is a city of enormous potential.’ I believe in the power of diversity; the beauty of its history; the spirit of its people.
“However, as I begin my first term I am very clear on the many challenges that lie ahead for us. The next four years are about making lasting changes in our community and in our lives and building the foundation of long-lasting change. My focus will be very simple and targeted. First, we’ve got to improve public safety, reduce crime and strengthen police-community relations.
“It is not acceptable to rank as one of New York’s most violent cities. Our families and children deserve better. Second, we have to focus on job creation and work force development to diversify and build our tax base and assure that everyone who wants a job can get a job and keep a good job.
“Third, we need to clean up and fix our streets, vacant properties and housing stock. We have to improve our code enforcement process and hold everyone accountable for improving the physical condition of our city. We all have a role to play in that.
“Finally, we must reinvest in our parks… and green spaces to ensure that our families and youth have the services that they deserve.”
She concluded with a quote from Nelson Mandela: “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
Councilwoman Abrams, representing the 2nd Ward, was near tears as she reminisced about an early event in her life in which she identified with a famous spider.
“It was a half a century ago, 50 years ago my Dad packed us up in our Buick and took his three kids up to Albany,” she said. “At the time, “as I knelt on the back seat of that Buick, and looked out the window, I was holding my two favorite things: my baseball glove and a book … as we turned onto the Thruway I looked out at the city, not knowing that many years later as an old English major in college I would find that the author of “Charlotte’s Web,” E.B. White, wrote the best love poem in the world, called “Natural History.”
The spider, dropping down from twig,
Unfolds a plan of her devising,
A thin premeditated rig
To use in rising.
And all that journey down through space,
In cool descent and loyal hearted,
She spins a ladder to the place
From where she started.
Thus I, gone forth as spiders do
In spider’s web a truth discerning,
Attach one silken thread to you
For my returning.
“Thanks for taking me back,” she said with high emotion. She then said she will try with the help of her newfound “sisters on the City Council” to make this city once again “thrive and gleam and shine and rock!”
Regina Angelo, no stranger to the council, represents the 3rd Ward. As she has done so many times over the years, she thanked the crowd “for coming.” After congratulating her colleagues, she said she hopes that they will have a wonderful four years together.
“As of November 13, I’ve served 32 years on the City Council,” she said, adding that when she announced her intent to seek a council seat as a part of the new ward system, friends asked her, “why?”
She suggested it was because she feels married to Newburgh.
“Once we take our oath to serve for four years, we’re married to Newburgh,” she said. “Love, honor, obey and respect your fellow councilpersons.”
She said she has seen the city “rise and fall, rise and fall. Well, it’s come up again. We have a wonderful city manager, James Slaughter, who’s working very hard. We’re going to be behind him all the way.”
“Thank you for coming,” she repeated. “It makes you want to cry, seeing you all here.”
“Enjoy the day with us,” she said, urging the audience to take part in food that was catered for the event in the Council Chambers.
When 5th Ward Councilwoman Cindy Holmes was introduced to thunderous applause, she looked out at the crowd and said, “I’m not going to cry.”
“The real work is just beginning,” she said, adding that she thought it was work by winning her seat on the council over Patricia Sofokles by one vote, and then surviving a court challenge.
“Yes, Newburgh, we can do it. We’re all going to get along with all the council,” she said. “We are going to be a team … we are going to bring a group dynamic to Newburgh; we are going to show fairness and equality; we are going to make sure there is job creation. We are going to make sure that this poverty level is lifted. We don’t need to live in poverty.
“Poverty creates crime,” she said, “once we get that together, we can have a new city.”
A Newburgh native, she said that her daughter was here from Tennessee and her son and “all my relatives” were present for the ceremony as well as her minister.
“It just brings joy to my heart,” she said. “I know that we can do this, I know that we can do this. We just have to come together.”
Saying that there is room to disagree on the council, she stressed that “we have to love one another; we still have to talk to one another. We have to get along. That’s the only way we’re going to bring our city back together. That’s the only way.”
New members of the Newburgh City Council are sworn in Saturday morning by Newburgh City Court Judge Eddie Loren Williams. From left, Karen Mejia, Ward 1; Genie Abrams, Ward 2; Regina Angelo, Ward 3; and Cindy Holmes, Ward 4, were the first to be elected from wards this past November following a City Charter change referendum passed in 2011.
By ALLAN GAUL
Great swearing in event. Below are my remarks:
Muchisimas Gracias. I wanted to begin by first thanking a couple of folks who have helped make today a reality: My family – Jerry and Simone / My parents / Luis. I would also not be here without the help from each and everyone of you who volunteered your time and talents and believed in my campaign from the very beginning, especially Ms. Ayala and Ms. Danzy; Dr. Jones; Mary and Lori; CVH Power; 1199, the Working Families Party, the Central Labor Council and all of my brothers and sisters in the labor movement;Judy; Steve and Jim; ActionNewburgh; and all of my other dear friends and supporters in this room who are too many to name.
It’s an honor and a privilege to be sworn in today to serve this great City. As I’ve said many times before, Newburgh is a city of enormous potential. I believe in the power of its diversity; the beauty of its history; and the spirit of its people. However, as I begin my first term on the Council, I am also clear about the many challenges that lie ahead. The next four years are about making lasting changes in our community and in our lives and building the foundations for long lasting change. My focus will be simple and targeted:
- First, we’ve got to improve public safety, reduce crime and strengthen police community relations. It is not acceptable to be ranked as one of New York’s most violent cities. Our families and children deserve better.
- Second, we have to focus on job creation and workforce development to diversify and build our tax base and ensure that everyone who wants a job can get and keep a good job;
- Third, we need to clean up and fix our streets, vacant properties and housing stock. We’ve got to improve our codes enforcement processes and hold everyone accountable for improving the physical condition of our city; and
- Finally, we must reinvest in our parks, waterways, green spaces and recreation activities to ensure that our families and youth have the services and amenities they deserve.
Going into my first term in office, I am also clear that change will not be easy, and that we will likely hit many stumbling blocks along the way. But in these difficult moments, I think tis important for us all to remember the words of the great Nelson Mandela “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” I believe that nothing is impossible if there is the political will and leadership committed to making change happen. I believe that nothing is impossible if we work together cooperatively- across all levels of government in order to leverage city, county, state and federal resources to make change happen.
Y para mis hermanos que igual que Celia Cruz creen que their English is not so good looking – sepan que tienen un govierno que esta con ustedes y estamos listo para trabajar juntos y asegurar que tengan acseso a su govierno y que sus derechos sean honorados.
And finally, I believe nothing is impossible if citizens remain engaged in an open and transparent democratic process. And so to that end, I wanted to announce that I’ve created a website so that all of the residents in Ward 1 can have direct line of communication with me. That web address is www.newburghward1.org . I also intend to have open office hours every Monday and Thursday and invite you to visit me at 123 Grand Street, 2nd Floor to ensure that your needs and priorities are heard and represented.
Thank you and let’s go do this!!!
A New City Judge Appointed – On 12/31/13, the council elect members were invited to a special council session to meet all of the candidates who qualified and applied for the vacancy in the appointive office of the City Court Judge. I am confident that Mr. Eddie Williams’ vision to uphold the rights of the individual with the interest of the community is what our City needs to continue the momentum forward.