Bustling with excitement, enthusiastic Newburgh residents filed into the City of Newburgh Activities Center to support Councilman-at-Large Anthony Grice, 3rd Ward Councilman Robert Sklarz, Councilman-at-large Omari Shakur, and Mayor Torrance Harvey. All four men were sworn in for their new term last Sunday.
“This is an early indication of the wisdom of this city council,” joked Sen. James Skoufis about the timing of the ceremony. Many municipalities scheduled their swear ins for New Year’s morning said Skoufis.
Assemblyman Jonathan Jacobson served as the event’s master of ceremonies. As a Newburgh native and former City Councilman, Jacobson is no stranger to Newburgh. “Not all [government] decisions [for the community] fit in a box,” said Jacobson. Jacobson emphasized the diversity and intimacy of the city’s community. Although, “your new duties will take you away from your family, the city’s community makes it worth it,” said Jacobson.
Newburgh City Court Judge E. Loren Williams administered the oath of office.
Sklarz was the first to be sworn in. After being sworn in, he briefly thanked his supporters and loved ones.
“It’s been a difficult year on the City Council,” said Sklarz. “We’ve had a lot of tough decisions to make.” He thanked everyone for their support, despite the City Council being in controversy over the recent layoff list.
Grice was the second to be sworn in. In a brief moment of silence Grice asked to honor Rebekah Grohl, a 22-year-old community activist who passed away this past weekend.
Taking a moment to breathe, Grice explained she suddenly passed away and it was a surprise to members of the community. Grohl’s sudden death was also brought up by Shakur and Harvey. In many ways her passing exemplifies the importance of a government that supports the youth. In life Grohl remained dedicated to improving the community that raised her.
Continuing on with his speech, Grice said that the movies and stories about “self-made men” are fake. He explained that his family helped build him up, and continued to thank them. “Your family knows when you’re a hypocrite,” said Grice. “They correct me and guide me.”
“We need everybody,” said Grice about improving Newburgh. More than once during the event, it was emphasized that community development needs the support of community members. Shakur is a prominent community voice that has spent his whole life focusing on the community’s development. After many failed runs for office, Shakur has finally found his place in office. His victory was a victory for everyone.
“The work I’m working on right now is for the future of our children,” said Shakur after being sworn in. “Being on that side of the table [being a regular community member] is kind of hard, but now that I’m on this side and we’re doing things.”
“Let’s get to work,” said Shakur to cheers and applause.
Harvey was the last official to be sworn in. In a highly anticipated race, Harvey beat newcomer Ali Muhammad for the mayoral seat.
“This past November the people stood up to be counted,” said Harvey. Harvey listed upcoming projects during his speech. A resolution will be made for a prayer to be added to the beginning of City Council meetings. A youth advisory committee will be formed. Also, the council is looking at finding alternative resources to restore staffing levels for public safety. There will also be a number of new sources of revenue like the upcoming Legoland development.
“Newburgh is open for business,” finished Harvey. “God bless you. God bless America and God bless Newburgh.”