American Dreams Come True
The City of Newburgh’s new Mayor Torrance Harvey’s, biography reads at first like a strange admixture of educator and entertainer, but in the end it all makes sense. Known for his affability and ability to communicate with the young, he has for years balanced his earlier experiences as an Identical Twin (both in entertainment media), Trained Actor, Writer, Poet, Music Manager/Songwriter, Entreprenuer and Director, with becoming a respected History Professor, and an Elected official as a Newburgh “At Large” Councilman, and now the City’s Mayor.
His is certainly a story of “The American Dream”, rising from humble beginnings in a split and poor home, to finding a place as a successful talent in the entertainment world, completing a college education at Morehouse College in 1997 earning degrees in Drama and Business Administration. Next he received an MFA in Acting at DePaul University ,”The Theater School” formally The Goodman School of Drama in Chicago, Illinois, (1998-1999), and later received an M.S. Degree in History and Education from Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh, New York. (2003) He was later voted as a Distinguished Alumni at Mount Saint Mary’s College, and on to National Recognition for his work with youth. His entertainment career however was not left behind, as he created a successful Multi-Media company, bonded with the youth he worked with via music and dance, and wrote a book of poetry “Ya Sankofa” (see photo), and then knuckled down to challenge the crime and gang culture in Newburgh by establishing a “Character and Education” class. The activities he has promoted are geared to keep the young busy in fun, educational and character-building pastimes, rather than falling into the cracks where crime breeds crime.
Major goals of the new Mayor include attracting business to Newburgh that brings good jobs, improving the infrastructure of the city while tightening up building codes, and continuing to work on the “To Do” list that Mayor Judy Kennedy gave him shortly before her death two weeks ago when she told him “I need you to do this for me”.
City Councilman Anthony Grice, another success story of distinction, was unanimously voted to take the seat vacated by Torrance Harvey when he became Mayor this week, following Judy Kennedy’s death. With educational attainments that one needs to pause to read through, he was born and raised in Newburgh. A SUNY Orange Alum, he continued his education to receive a Masters of Special Education at Virginia Union University in Richmond and then came back north to attend SUNY New Paltz where he attained a degree in School Administration. Grice has a wife, Hasina, who owns a bakery called “Perfect Sweets”. They have three boys (16, 14 and 8), all attending Newburgh schools. Hasina traces her love of baking to when as a small child she received one of the early “Easy Bake” ovens. She has since refined her bakery arts by graduating from The Culinary Institute of America’s AOS Baking & Pastry Arts Program. While running her business from home at present, hopes one day to have her own storefront.
Grice told the Orange County Post that aside from his civic and educational responsibilities, “I’m a family guy, and spend at least one meal every day with all members at the table, no cell phones, and no interruptions”.
As for his goals for the City, Grice would like to improve accountability of city departments, a non-partisan pavement plan (with improved funding for same), and improved communication between departments (such as between police, water and fire departments) so that collaboration can help things run more smoothly while strengthening our foundation. He added “I like to listen to both opposing sides of an issue, and work to find a middle ground”. While Grice has not taken a position yet on the current (Alembic) housing debate, and said he is still reviewing details and alternatives, he acknowledged that Newburgh certainly needs some kind of improvement in available affordable housing. For now, he said he is a strong supporter of Habitat for Humanity.