Candidates will duke it out next month in a Democratic primary election to decide party nominees for the Newburgh City Council. Six Democrats are running to fill four open seats on the council.
Patty Sofokles, Nancy Colas, Ramona Monteverde and incumbent Councilwoman Cindy Holmes are all seeking to become the Democratic nominees in September. Jonathan Jacobson and incumbent Councilwoman Karen Mejia are running unchallenged.
Mejia has served one term on the city council. “I am seeking reelection because I have passion and vision that Newburgh can write a great story on how economic development can take place in a responsible way, a way that respects the scars of history and learns to create an inclusive, diverse community for all,” Mejia said in a statement Monday.
Nancy Colas is running against Ramona Monteverde in Ward 2, where Councilwoman Genie Abrams is stepping down after serving one term.
“I am running for city council, Ward 2, because I care deeply about Newburgh and believe in our future,” Monteverde said in an email this month. “As a concerned resident and former homeowner, I personally understand the tax issue and will work hard for fair property assessments to keep ownership and rents affordable.”
Monteverde has served on the City of Newburgh Planning Board since 2005, and works as director of operations at Safe Harbors of the Hudson. Her platform includes fair taxes, smart growth and creating a “healthy, safe and thriving community for all.”
“If elected, I will focus on the taxes and the fair reassessment of properties across the board. Concurrently, I will work on increasing economic development in the city,” she wrote. “I will work on creating thriving neighborhoods and development of commercial properties in distressed areas.”
Monteverde also wants to create incentives for business development, walkable green space and improved public transportation.
Nancy Colas, a member of the city Board of Ethics, wants to lower what she described as the city’s sky-high property taxes. “People we’re hiring to work in the city are not residing in the city,” she said, suggesting the council could create legislation to require a certain number of city positions be filled by City of Newburgh residents. “That might help to reduce our taxes.”
“We need to also develop our infrastructure,” she said, including repairing sidewalks and roads. The streets need to be cleaner, Colas insists.
“Painted streets are nice,” she said, referring to a Complete-Streets design around Broadway and Liberty Street. Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding could have been better used to purchase garbage cans to place in front of businesses, said Colas, owner of Simple Gifts and Goodies.
“We need to be able to find out what has happened to the money that is being allocated to the city,” she said. “Hopefully, we could create a watchdog program of some kind… We need some accountability.”
The Ward 3 seat is being vacated by longtime Councilwoman Regina Angelo. The sole Democrat running for this seat is former county and city Democratic Committee chairman Jonathan Jacobson.
“I want to fix all the streets, keep taxes stable by increasing the tax base, insure safe drinking water, and fight illegal guns and gun violence,” said Jacobson last week. “I also want to ensure that the Third Ward gets its fair share from City Hall.”
Tax accountant Patty Sofokles faces incumbent Councilwoman Cindy Holmes in Ward 4. She owns and operates Sofokles Tax Service.
“I think this an important time in the city,” said Sofokles. “We have a lot of things going on. I don’t want the city to miss out on opportunities. Newburgh has had the chance, many times over, to go to the next level. I want to make sure that happens.”
Sofokles currently serves on the Downing Park Planning Committee, the city Board of Ethics and the city Board of Assessment Review. “We need code compliance,” she said. “We need more community policing. We need to strengthen our police force and we need a permanent police chief.”
“The streets are a mess,” she added. “We need funding to clean them up,” as well as youth job-training and increased economic development. “I will do everything I can to keep the city moving in an upward direction,” she said. “I can make a lot of common-sense decisions.”
Councilwoman Cindy Holmes has represented Ward 4 for one term. “I want to continue to focus on quality-of-life issues for our residents and work on improving them on a steady basis,” Holmes said in an email last week. “Paved and clean streets are a necessity. Recreation activities for the young and old should be available to all residents on a regular basis.”
Safety and code enforcement are “huge” issues for the city, Holmes said. “I would like to see beat cops walking in every neighborhood so relationships can be established by the police department,” she said. “People should expect to live in safe, decent housing. Run down and abandoned buildings invite crime,” she wrote, and “landlords must be held accountable for sub-standard rentals.”
Holmes cited minimal tax increases, city residents being hired for city jobs, beefed up street video surveillance and the city’s new ShotSpotter system as among the successes seen during her tenure.
Council member terms are four years. The primary election takes place on Tuesday, September 12. Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.
By SHANTAL RILEY