BY LUIS GRONDA
Next month’s Community Board 9 meeting is sure to feature fireworks that were prominent during the board’s meetings late last year.
CB9 will vote on its new executive board during its March meeting, including possibly electing a new chairperson.
After months of confusion and conflict within the board, some CB9 members hope to elect a new chairman during elections next month.
There has been a lot of conflict within the board in the past eight months.
Last year, Jim Coccovillo, CB9’s chairman, along with other board members, tried to get District Manager Mary Ann Carey to resign from her position because of a lack of communication and organization within the board. She ultimately kept her job, but was put on probation.
Then in late 2013, three CB9 members asked that Sam Esposito, an Ozone Park resident, be kicked off the board for alleged anti-Semitic remarks made in an email to the trio. Although they had the support of Coccovillo, the majority of CB9 elected to keep Esposito as a member.
Last month, Carey accused Coccovillo of verbal harassment within the CB9 office, an allegation that he denied.
During Tuesday’s meeting, both Coccovillo and Carey appeared to bury the hatchet, saying they would be putting all past board conflicts behind them and moving forward in the new year.
“Mary Ann and I have agreed to put all past issues and concerns behind us and that it’s the CB9 community issues and concerns that we are here for,” Coccovillo said.
Carey apologized for accusing the chairman of harassment during last month’s meeting.
“If I made statements that were inappropriate, if I said anything that offended the board or the chair, I apologize,” she said, echoing Coccovillo’s sentiment of putting their past differences aside.
Now with the election coming up, some CB9 members hope to replace Coccovillo with a new Chairman as his term will expire in March.
Sources close to the board say they want Coccovillo out because he has been at the center of much controversy and CB9 could use a fresh start by electing a new chairman, a sentiment echoed by several members.
“I think it would be a mistake for Jim to run again,” one source said.
One person being floated as a possible replacement is Ralph Gonzalez, an Ozone Park resident and head of the CB9’s Health & Social Services Committee.
When asked about the possibility of becoming Chairman, Gonzalez said he was very flattered about being considered for the position, but he has not been approached about that possibility.
“I would serve the community in any way possible,” he said.
Gonzalez added that there is a desire for a change in leadership because of the recent controversy surrounding the board.
“There’s been too many distractions and it’s hard to undo what’s been done,” Gonzalez said.
Sources close to the board said that Gonzalez is being considered because he had been a member for a long time and he has hit the ground running since being named chair of the Health committee.
“I think a lot of people were impressed by how quickly he got things moving as a new committee chairperson,” a source said.
The sources added that Gonzalez’s inexperience as an executive board member could work against him, if he ran for the position.
When asked about running for reelection, Coccovillo said he has not decided whether or not to run yet but he does believe he would win if he ran.
“Why would I run for it if I didn’t think I would win?” he said.
Reach Luis Gronda at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 127, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @luisgronda.