“The Queen City rises again,” she said. Judy Kennedy was sworn into her second term as mayor of the City of Newburgh at an inaugural ceremony held at Newburgh Free Academy North Campus last Wednesday. Kennedy took the oath of office alongside Councilman-elect Torrance Harvey.
“We have gathered here to witness our Democratic process at work,” said NFA Co-principal Matteo Doddo, who led the ceremony. “It’s my honor to have this event at my school.”
Newburgh Enlarged City School District Superintendent Roberto Padilla described Kennedy and Harvey as “two individuals with the ambition and devotion to make a difference.”
Padilla praised Kennedy’s commitment to the city. “Her compassion and commitment is like no other,” he said of the mayor, who, after losing the Democratic primary in September, was able to come from behind as an Independence-Party candidate to win re-election.
The superintendent then spoke about Harvey, a longtime NFA history teacher. “He has touched countless lives as a history teacher here in Newburgh,” Padilla said.
Harvey was joined that day by dozens of students from his U.S. and global history classes. “We are truly here to bring about effective change in the city,” Harvey said. “We must restore this great, American city… brick by brick, row by row.”
Harvey concluded, citing a quote by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy,” Harvey said.
Kennedy cited a chapter on “momentum” from the book “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership,” by author John C. Maxwell.
“Getting something started takes much more energy than keeping it going,” she said. “We have that momentum now.”
The mayor spoke about her vision of the city 10 years into the future, when, according to this vision, Newburgh has attracted manufacturers, diverse businesses and jobs, distressed buildings have been renovated and sidewalks are walkable. “Trash is only seen on trash take-out day,” she said.
Kennedy also praised the city’s current successes. “The Excelsior program has become a huge success,” she said, speaking about NFA’s Excelsior Academy, providing college-level courses in computer information technologies. “Newburgh has become the ‘cool’ place to live in the Hudson Valley.”
The city has the support of the county, state and many other entities in the effort to rebuild, Kennedy said. “It doesn’t happen overnight but you’ve got to hold the vision,” she said. “I see the greatness. I know it’s there… we have to keep the vision to keep the flywheel moving.”
“Can one person change the world?” asked city Judge Eddie Williams before delivering the oath of office. “I believe the answer to that question is, ‘Yes.’”
City citizens are looking to Kennedy, Harvey and the rest of the city council “to change their world,” he said.
“I can offer this advice,” said the judge to the council members. “If you approach each of the challenges, the obstacles and each one of the naysayers that you encounter during your time here with the same thought, that ‘I am here to change the world’ …based upon the strength of that conviction, you’ll be able to roll with the punches at the next city council meeting. You’ll be able to make those tough decisions.”
Noticeably absent from the ceremony stage was Hillary Rayford, who, running with Harvey, was elected to the city council in November.
By SHANTAL RILEY