City of Newburgh councilwoman Karen Mejia announced at the December 14 council meeting that she will not be seeking a third term.
“It’s been a historic year – we’ve lost coworkers, friends and family members,” said Mejia during the council meeting. “In the same breath, 2020 also marks my seventh year of serving on this council. It’s been a very full and very active seven years, and I am really proud of the progress we made.”
While it’s a decision made almost a year ahead of when her term will end, she described it as being a “reflective, long time coming type of decision.”
In March of 2020, councilwoman Mejia introduced the idea of term limits for council members, which have never been put in place before. With no term limits prior, earlier members have sat on the board for up to 12 years. One term is four years.
“I’ve been one of the main people spearheading the term limit legislation that was just passed in November,” said Mejia . “I am a firm believer that you have to open up space for new leadership to emerge and activate.”
She felt as though eight years would be “the right time to open up that space.”
“The City of Newburgh is in a much different footing than when I first started,” said Mejia . “I’m super proud of the work that’s been able to take place.”
She’s been able to see a number of different projects come to fruition and new legislation being passed, like the completion of Tyrone Crabb Memorial Park, which was a topic of conversation since she moved into the city. Other highlights she included were stabilizing ward one, by utilizing the Newburgh Community Land Bank and RUPCO, infrastructure projects like paving and others.
“There’s more to be done in my last year,” said Mejia . “But I wanted to open up the field for other emerging activists to step up and take it to the next level.”
So what’s next for Meija after she completes this term? She hopes to circle back and reconnect with grassroots activists and organizations and work with her neighbors in the community differently than she did as an elected official.
“There is a certain kind of responsibility and commitment that you do when you’re an elected official and compromises that you need to make along the way that when you’re in the private sector, or just an individual and activist – I almost feel like you have more freedom,” said Mejia . “I am looking forward to expressing that freedom more openly.”
After seeing what’s “behind the magician’s clock” she’s excited to bring new ideas to her neighbors and community to strengthen the city.
In terms of holding another elected position, she is going to take a pause on it for now to let herself “re-energize.” However, with her work not being complete for a while longer, she hopes to put her energy towards housing issues, including economic development without displacement, and creating systems that “outlast an individual.”
“I want to leave rules and regulations that supersede any individual,” said Mejia .