Last Tuesday’s general election provided definitive wins for Newburgh City Council candidates vying for four open seats. Beginning new terms in January, they each vowed to work together on a council that has done a fair amount of bickering in recent years.
“The first thing I want to do is be able to work with all the council members,” said Patty Sofokles, who won in Ward 4. “I want a united council that gets along and works together for the betterment of everyone in the city. I’m not just saying that, I mean it.”
According to unofficial results, Sofokles received 364 votes, defeating Councilwoman Cindy Holmes who drew 185 votes, and Republican Christine Bello who drew 112. “It was a team effort,” said Sofokles, who ran alongside Ramona Monteverde and Councilwoman Karen Mejia.
Sofokles currently serves on the city’s ethics board and assessment review board, from which she will step down at the end of the year. Sofokles co-founded the Downing Park Planning Committee. She also owns and operates Sofokles Tax Service.
“My clients are emailing today asking, ‘Who is going to do my taxes?’ I’ve assured them I will,” Sofokles said last week. “I’ve been doing community service, raising children and doing my job my whole adult life.”
The city needs a new police station, Sofokles said. “We need a police chief,” she said. “And, everybody needs to work better with the city manager.”
Sofokles pledged to focus on continuing the city’s revitalization momentum. “We are on the brink of something big in the city, I can feel it,” she said. “I really feel the time is now for Newburgh. There’s a rebirth coming.”
Johnathan Jacobson won the council seat in Ward 3. “I feel I can work well with the rest of the council regardless of whom they supported,” said Jacobson a day after the election. “If someone else has a good idea, I will back it.”
Jacobson won the seat with 376 votes over Newburgh United candidate Anthony Grice, who brought in 247 votes, and Republican John Guidice who received 213. Jacobson will replace Regina Angelo, who is stepping down after serving on the council for decades.
“I’m thrilled and humbled by my solid victory,” Jacobson said. “I want to congratulate my opponents on their spirited campaigns.”
Jacobson, who is former chairman of both the city and Orange County Democratic Committee, repeated his campaign promise to fix city streets. “I am going to push the administration to come up with a multi-year plan to fix and pave all the streets,” he said. “That will take getting federal and state money,” he said, because, “we can’t have any tax increases. If we keep raising taxes, people will vote with their feet and they will move out.”
Jacobson said there was a lot of “door-to-door” campaigning by his team to get residents out to vote. “We had a good ground operation,” he said.
Ramona Monteverde ran unopposed in Ward 2. Last week, Monteverde said she was looking forward to “working on a council where we all respect each other.”
“We have to find a chief of police and support the city manager in helping him to do that,” she said. “I want to make sure we work on the relationship with the city manager so he doesn’t feel like he’s always under attack. I support the city manager 100 percent.”
Taxes are another concern for Monteverde. “What I’ve heard from homeowners is that there is no way they can afford their taxes and stay in their homes,” she said. “We need to make sure there are fair taxes and assessments across the board so that everyone is paying their fair share.”
Monteverde will step down from the city planning board at the end of the year. She will continue in her position as director of operations with Safe Harbors of the Hudson.
Karen Mejia, poised to serve her second term, said she wants to maintain progress being made on housing. “I want to continue work on code enforcement and bringing properties to the tax rolls,” she said, with support from organizations such as Habitat for Humanity of Greater Newburgh, RUPCO and the Newburgh Community Land Bank.
Mejia also wants to see a continued focus on police-community relations. The councilwoman said she is hopeful that the new council will be more civil than in the past.
“In the last two election cycles we have seen an improvement in how council members interact with each other,” Mejia wrote to the Mid Hudson Times this week. “I am hopeful that the incoming council will continue to lift the bar of civility and productivity higher.”
The son of Newburgh City Councilwoman-elect Patty Sofokles is a New York City Police Detective. His place of work was misstated in a recent article in the Mid Hudson Times.
By SHANTAL RILEY