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Kingston Mayor Steve Noble sworn in for third term, pledges to help city "rise to the moment"

Kingston Mayor Steve Noble was sworn in for a third term Monday.
Facebook: City of Kingston
Kingston Mayor Steve Noble was sworn in for a third term Monday.

Kingston Mayor Steve Noble pledged to help the city “rise to the moment” amid a number of challenges Monday, as he was sworn in to a third four-year term.

The Democrat took the oath of office for a third term along with Common Council President Andrea Shaut and other members of the common council before delivering his annual State of the City address at city hall. While Noble said the state of Kingston is strong, he believes the city faces a number of new and continued challenges in 2024, including inflation, a housing crisis, climate change, the opioid epidemic, and even fallout from the Israel-Hamas war.

“These are not challenges the mayor’s office can fix alone," he noted. "It will take all of us: the common council, our national leaders, all of our partners in the nonprofit, business — and our residents, working together, to tackle these issues to the best of our joint abilities."

Over the weekend, Noble announced that the Kingston Fire Department is now providing the sole ambulance service in the city. According to mayor’s office, firefighters have already responded to more than 100 emergency calls over the past six months due to a lack of availability from private ambulances. The city decided to make it official after a private company, Empress, sought an annual service contract between $500,000 and $1 million.

Noble also used his address, however, to tout the city’s progress over the past eight years — especially when it comes to housing. The city declared a housing emergency in 2022.

Last summer, the city council voted to overhaul its zoning code to establish a new, form-based code that Noble hopes will increase Kingston’s housing stock. Accessory dwelling units — sometimes called guest cottages or in-law suites — are now allowed citywide, and residents could start building the winning ADU model from a city design competition this spring.

To that end, Noble said the Kingston planning board is adding staff and developing an online application this year to help streamline the permit approval process.

“Today I’m announcing a goal of approving 1,000 new units in the next 5 years," said Noble.

Noble also took time to highlight the renovation of Dietz Stadium, a project over which the Democrat momentarily clashed with officials from the Kingston City School District late last year. Noble has said construction, which started in August, is expected to last anywhere from 14 to 16 months.

Noble also said the city has come a long way in its sustainability. Last year, the city received nearly $22 million from the federal government to help shore up and increase access to the Hudson River waterfront. Since he took office, Noble says Kingston has converted 13 city vehicles to electric cars, and opened nine EV charging stations — including some federally-funded, high-speed charging stations — citywide.

While they weren’t mentioned by name, certainly present during the ceremony were concerns over Russia’s war in Ukraine, and the latest Israel-Hamas war, where Gaza health officials say more than 22,000 Palestinians have been killed. Some members of Kingston’s Jewish community lost loved ones as a result of the Hamas terrorist attack that killed more than 1,200 Israeli citizens on October 7.

Closer to home, Noble said during his speech that crime in Kingston was on the decline in 2023, but the city is bracing for an increase in “ugly rhetoric and hate” leading up to this year’s presidential election.

In Monday’s invocation, Rabbi Yael Romer of Congregation Emanuel of the Hudson Valley called on city leaders to set an inclusive, respectful example for residents.

"In a world in which we fail one another all too frequently, we ask that our leaders here in the city of Kingston lead us by being the mensches, the finest human beings that they are and that they can be," added Romer.

Noble turned back a challenge from Republican candidate Scott Denny in November’s election. Democrats have full control of the common council — while a couple new faces were sworn in Monday, many of the members ran unopposed. In Ward 7, former Alderman Michael Olivieri won another term despite resigning from the position last year to take a job in the city’s water department. Noble appointed Bryant “Drew” Andrews, executive director of Kingston’s Center for Creative Education, to fill the seat, with another election planned for November to determine who will fill the rest of the term.

The council’s first regular meeting is set for January 9.

Jesse King is the host of WAMC's national program on women's issues, "51%," and the station's bureau chief in the Hudson Valley. She has also produced episodes of the WAMC podcast "A New York Minute In History."