BY LUIS GRONDA
With the Community Board 9 elections coming up on Tuesday, the recent arrest of a board member could complicate matters.
Sam Esposito has been the most vocal opposition to the reelection of current chairman Jim Coccovillo, pushing to elect a new person to lead CB9. The board has been embroiled in controversy over the past year, including discussing kicking District Manager Mary Ann Carey out of her position for disorganization within the board and trying to kick Esposito off the board for comments he made towards other members.
Now, with Esposito fighting an indictment of allegedly being involved in a social security fraud scheme, it could complicate matters for the anti-Coccovillo faction. Sources close to CB9 say that his arrest does not change things and they plan on going full steam ahead to push for a new executive board.
According to multiple sources, the new executive board that will oppose Coccovillo’s reelection bid will be Ralph Gonzalez from Ozone Park, who seeks to be the new chairman, Raj Rampershad and Regina Santoro, both from Richmond Hill, who would be either the 1st or 2nd Vice Chairperson and Marie Turley from Kew Gardens, who would become the new executive secretary. Sources said Esposito considered running for one of the vice chairs but took himself out of consideration after news of his arrest was released.
One source said Esposito’s arrest has made the board look bad, because the majority of its members backed Esposito when his membership came up for a vote and it could affect people associated with that group.
“It’s important that there is a clear, credible alternative to Jim,” the source said.
Gonzalez’s inexperience on CB9 could also be a factor, according to sources. He has only been on the board for a little over a year and only took over as head of the health committee in January.
Part of the problem is finding a person willing to devote the time required to run a community board.
“There are a lot of good and experienced people on the board, but it’s a lot of work that many people don’t want,” another source said.
Despite those concerns, many within the board feel he is still a better alternative than reelecting Coccovillo because of the unwanted publicity CB9 has gotten in the past year, sources said.
“This past year has not been good. The current leadership has not unified the board and that’s not a good thing,’ a source said.
Another source said Gonzalez has impressed many members with how involved he has been since joining CB9 and how he has handled the health committee since taking over.
There is always the possibility of more people choosing to run on the night of the election, a source said, because members may not want it known they are running until it comes time to nominate.
When asked about the upcoming election, Coccovillo did not want to comment other than saying he is not 100 percent sure he will run again due to things going on in his personal life. He added that he does want to focus on tasks he must complete before next week.
Tuesday’s meeting will be at the Majestic Marquise, located at 88-03 101 Ave. in Ozone Park.
Reach Luis Gronda at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 127, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @luisgronda.