By Alberto Gilman
Lifelong City of Newburgh residents John Giudice and Donald Rehrey Jr. have announced their intention to run for city seats this coming fall. Giudice will be seeking the mayoral seat, opposing current mayor Torrance Harvey and Rehrey will be seeking the open councilman at-large seat.
Giudice and Rehrey Jr., both Republicans, add their names to a wide pool of candidates who have made their announcements over the past several weeks. Both candidates were planning to seek the Conservative lines as well for the upcoming election and are already collecting signatures for petitions.
“I am running for mayor of Newburgh to help improve the quality of life for all our citizens,” said Giudice at a March 10 press conference in front of Rockland Bakery. “Over the recent years I have witnessed a decline in the quality of life in our city and I want to help to reverse that trend.”
This will be Giudice’s second bid for mayor and Rehrey’s second bid for city council. Giudice ran for Orange County Legislator District 6 seat in 2021, losing to Genesis Ramos. He also served briefly on the Board of Education of the Newburgh Enlarged City School District.
Giudice shared his concerns with regards to recognizing the needs of the elderly and senior citizens in the city and increases in sanitation and water fees in recent years. With the usage of the Catskill Aqueduct as the main water source when Washington Lake was contained with PFAS/PFOS chemicals back in 2016, Giudice would hopefully like to see Washington Lake be brought back online under his leadership.
“Water and sewer rates continue to climb. Why? What is going on with the pollution of Washington Lake,” said Giudice. “Why is there no resolution regarding how Washington Lake was polluted and made undrinkable by users of Stewart Airport through the years. How much of that pollution is impacting water rates in Newburgh?”
Giudice would like to see funds from the Community Development Block Grant to help with sidewalk repairs and senior programming.
“I’ve been born and raised in Newburgh all my life and some of the things that are happening right now I’m not, not too happy with it,” said Giudice. “There’s also a lot of people in the city are not too happy.”
Giudice also criticized the electronic parking meters that were installed on Broadway to provide an increase in city revenue. The Broadway corridor, the Newburgh Waterfront, Liberty Street and Grand Street saw meters installed last summer. The parking meters before were coin operated whereas now residents have the opportunity to pay with cards and can track their spot with additional mobile app capabilities on their phones. If elected, Giudice pledges to also work towards increasing the sales tax so as to receive additional funding from Orange County and to support the local businesses in the city who have been impacted by the meters.
Giudice was also critical of the Delano-Hitch pool project at the cost of a previously reported $14 million that would not see completion and use until 2025. With Delano-Hitch specifically, Giudice highlighted the soccer program, the youth football program that he believed could use more exposure and he would like to start Little League again for children. Giudice also shared his support of the skatepark built several years ago for the youth in the city.
Other concerns include an emphasis on public safety with respect to road rage and the presence of motor bikes and off road vehicles in the city. And he opposed the layoffs that occurred in the police and fire departments.
“We need more firemen and we need the police. We’re top heavy. We’re paying top dollars for things that we don’t need,” Giudice said. “These public safety professionals need to be paid a fair wage. Newburgh is a busy and very complex city, and we need the best people to keep us safe. You must pay good people a good salary if we are to have the best public safety professionals working for the citizens of our city.”
Giudice, who grew up on the East End and then moved to the West End of the city, graduated from Newburgh Free Academy, and worked in the construction industry for more than 50 years. From 1988 to 1995, served on the city council. Giudice has also been a union contractor, a 30 plus year member of the Newburgh Elks Lodge and also served on the Newburgh Board of Education for several years. Giudice ultimately resigned before he completed his term to care for his mother who passed away in 2011.
A 63-year resident of the city, Rehrey was born and raised in Newburgh and currently resides in the West End. He began at West Street School, attended North Junior High and graduated from Newburgh Free Academy. After graduating, Rehrey went off into the workforce and is a machinist by trade. He has also been a 30-year member of the Newburgh Elks Lodge.
Rehrey who previously ran for city council but was defeated by current Councilman Bob Sklarz, also concurred with Giudice’s points during the press conference. He expressed his concerns on the parking meters with adding a possible payment card , maintaining and upgrading the city streets, addressing the influx of people to Newburgh which has caused housing concerns. Rehrey emphasized the importance of keeping youth off the streets and involved in city activities at the recreation center. Rehrey was also critical of code enforcement not maintaining licensing standards which he believed needs to be addressed.
“There’s checks and balances. I, if elected, will be in there and supporting the people that elect me,” said Rehrey “I have seen the ups and downs of this city and as of right now we are on a downward trend and I will work to change that.”
Mike Walker, manager for Rockland Bakery shared his support for Giudice and Rehrey Jr.’s candidacies and also shared his thoughts on the meters. “My personal belief on the meters situation is that it’s not at a good time right now. Right now. We’re still struggling after COVID. And the economy is probably at its worst in decades.”
Incumbent Mayor Harvey and Councilman Omari Shakur will be seeking their respective seats again. This year’s city council candidates feature former councilwoman Gay Lee seeking a seat, Ali T. Muhammad, who previously ran for mayor, and first time candidates Anusha Mehar, RD McLymore, Bryan Luna and Odirlei Thomaz. All these already announced candidates will be running on the Democratic line this fall. One seat became open following the decision by Councilman Anthony Grice not to seek re-election.
“I’m here to win. Whatever I got to do to get that vote, I’m going to do it and I’m going to do it the right way,” said Giudice. “My biggest thing is when I’m in there is going to be meet the mayor, because I want to hear the problems that’s going on.”