BY LUIS GRONDA
The new Community Board 9 chairperson was elected without much of the controversy the board has become known for in the past year.
Ralph Gonzalez, an Ozone Park resident who has served on CB9 for eight years, was unanimously elected as the new head of the board Tuesday night, in the same neighborhood he calls home.
Rounding out CB9’s brand new executive board, Raj Rampershad, from Richmond Hill, is now the 1st Vice Chairperson; Woodhaven’s J. Richard Smith was elected as 2nd Vice Chairperson and Marie Turley from Kew Gardens will now serve as Executive Secretary.
In his last meeting as CB9 chairperson, Jim Coccovillo nominated Gonzalez for the position himself, deciding not to run for a second term.
Coccovillo’s time as CB9’s head was marred with controversy, including attempting to remove longtime district manager Mary Ann Carey from that position and trying to kick Sam Esposito off the board for alleged anti-Semitic comments he made towards other members.
The unwanted attention left many board members frustrated and looking to head in a new direction for its leadership.
With Gonzalez running unopposed, every board member raised their hands in support of the selection. The board cheered Gonzalez after it was official and the elated Ozone Park resident received many congratulations from his colleagues and representatives of elected officials through the rest of the night.
“It feels awesome. I’m glad to have the full support of the board,” Gonzalez said.
He was short and concise while giving his health committee report. After declaring the report finished, Coccovillo quipped, “Ralph, I’m sorry, you’re only beginning,” referencing him taking over as chairman.
When asked why he decided against running for chairperson, Coccovillo said the board needed new people to take over.
“It needs new blood and new opinions,” he said.
Coccovillo also praised Gonzalez for the work he has put in as chair of the health committee and a board member overall.
“He’s got more talent and everything else than I ever knew, he’s got a ton of information, he’s a professional in his own right,” Coccovillo said.
Reflecting on his time as chairperson, he said one thing he learned was he did not know the kind of power he had because one decision he made would have been made differently. Coccovillo declined to elaborate on what he was referencing when asked.
“There’s no sense of bringing up spilled milk,” he said.
Reach Luis Gronda at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 127, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @luisgronda.