Schnekwa McNeil, life-long City of Newburgh advocate, has announced her run for City of Newburgh Council Ward One.
“I’ve been a voice for a very long time,” said McNeil. “At this point, I’m just taking it to another level and a different platform where I will continue to be the voice the city needs for those people who don’t speak out or are afraid to speak out or don’t know how to.”
McNeil describes her run as “at the request of the people,” after having community members and residents approach her year after year about running. She describes the combination of her loyalty, sincerity and knowledge of the city sets her apart from the rest of the candidates.
“When I say I want to do something for the people that make life better, I really mean it,” said McNeil. “It’s the love for my city and the people here.”
McNeil’s campaign rests on two words: Newburgh Strong, chosen because “we’ve still managed to be strong [despite hardships] and band together.” Her past work in the City of Newburgh includes helping ease gun violence with her work on the campaign for ShotSpotter and increased lights and camera across the city, speaking for the voiceless at “countless” council meetings, and more recently holding vigils for the death of a Newburgh boy and a fundraiser for Dallas, Texas who is dealing with unexpected weather that lead to a number of deaths.
As an elected official, she plans to listen to the people who she talks to on a daily basis and their concerns. Her key issues she plans to focus on are affordable housing and homelessness.
“Affordable housing is at the very top of the list,” said McNeil. “I’m looking to work with the mayor and the rest of the council to come up with a solution that can benefit the community.”
One preliminary idea she has is to mandate that city-owned buildings that are sold have to have a percentage of affordable housing.
Speaking with homeless individuals, McNeil has seen that they “can’t get help to get housing” unless they have a foot in the door somewhere. If elected, she wants to create a database that has information on homeless people, which would be used to help alert them of resources and what ways they can get help.
“The database would be able to help our homeless get off the streets and get them back to living on their own,” said McNeil.
On top of these two key platform issues, she plans to work closely with the sanitation department to keep the streets clean, create walkable sidewalks to increase accessibility and continue to work with the police department and create police-community relations past Executive Order 203.
“I would like to get to know different officers and they say oh, that’s so-and-so’s grandson,” said McNeil about police-community partnerships. “Then we’d have relations where we look out for each other. We want to build a trusting relationship, one that’s sincere.”
She’d also help create additional programming for children, ranging from elementary level to young adult, at low or no cost when possible.
“Those who have stayed in Newburgh, believe in Newburgh,” said McNeil. “We want it to be a place where you can come back to to visit and say wow, look at this – it’s looking good around here, look what they’ve done. We could get that trust back.”
McNeil was born and raised in Newburgh, graduating from NFA She went on to take classes at Orange County Community College and Mount Saint Mary College. She is a mother to three children.