BY LUIS GRONDA
Community Board 9 has decided on its new district manager and it is someone very familiar to the advisory body.
Lisa Gomes was chosen to be the board’s new district manager, winning the vote at a special meeting CB9 held to determine who would replace Mary Ann Carey. Gomes was the acting DM before Tuesday night’s election.
The meeting began with Barry Grodenchik, former deputy borough president, reading a statement from Queens Borough President Melinda Katz that her office sent out on Tuesday afternoon prior to the meeting.
The statement itself criticized CB9’s decision to “steamroll” the district manager selection process despite Katz’s call to delay the vote until April after concerns were raised to her office about the process itself.
After Grodenchik read the statement, the board immediately went into executive session, starting a nearly three-hour interview process where each of the three candidates stood before the full board to be asked questions about the position.
Lisa Gomes was interviewed first, followed by James McClelland and Scott Wolff. Each candidate was interviewed for about 30 minutes. The trio was not seen in the room during the public sessions before and after the vote.
After the interviews were completed, the board came out of executive session to do the vote publicly. Each board member filled wrote the name of their choice on a piece of paper and gave it in to be counted.
The first round of voting did not yield a winner as no one received enough votes for a majority. Out of the 34 votes, Gomes received 16 votes, McClelland got 12 votes and six people voted for Wolff. There are 46 CB9 members in total and 12 of its members were absent from the vote, including the chairman Ralph Gonzalez.
A runoff vote between Gomes and McClelland was counted to finally decide a winner. Gomes won the final vote 19 to 15.
Gomes said she felt happy and validated that the board elected her to the position.
“I appreciate the support and confidence from the board and I intend to work with the board to make it the best it can be,” she said.
Gomes declined to comment on her thoughts about Katz trying to delay the election or what she plans to do to quell past troubles that have been ongoing within the board in recent years.
Reached by phone, McClelland said the process was open and fair and he respects CB9’s decision to elect Gomes as its new DM.
“I’m disappointed because my resume stood on its own,” he said. “I wish Lisa Gomes well, I know she has a hard job ahead of her.”
As for the interview itself, McClelland said they asked him various questions ranging from what are his qualifications to how much he knows about the neighborhoods that CB9 covers. He said he thought each question was appropriate and he enjoyed being interviewed by the board. Gomes echoed a similar sentiment. She said one question they asked was regarding the evaluation process and if she was aware that her job performance would be evaluated if she was selected.
Prior to the vote, Dr. Vincent Evangelista, the head of the District Manager selection committee, said he was impressed with the process of picking a new district manager.
“I wish the haters and the outsiders, who fiercely criticized this, were able to see how smoothly we worked as a team,” he said.
It is unclear whether or not there will be any ramifications for CB9 ignoring Katz’s demand and going through with the election. More than half of its members are up for re-election at the end of the month and Katz decides who is and is not appointed to the advisory body.
Sharon Lee, a spokesperson for Katz, said she will take this situation into account when deliberating over membership of those who ask for a renewal.
“I can say for the record that right now, BP Katz has very little faith in the actions of Community Board 9. In considering new applications and re-applications to any Community Board, public trust in how the respective Community Board operated in the prior term in certainly something BP Katz takes into account,” she said in an email.
Lee added that since Katz was elected, she has tried to make the community boards more consistent with the City Council District representation.
Reach Luis Gronda at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 127, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @luisgronda.