New York, N.Y. – Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer today announced the results of a revamped Community Board application process, in which nearly 600 people were interviewed and took part in training exercises on conflict of interest, budgeting, and land use. Following a three-month process, 321 Community Board members were appointed for 2014-16 terms – and 25 percent were new members, many of them participating in public service for the first time.
“As borough president I am committed to helping give Community Boards the training and technical support they need to assess the complex issues facing the future of our borough, including land use, zoning, affordable housing, school spaces, services for seniors, and traffic safety. We have also begun tracking demographic data of our Community Board applicants and members, to help identify where recruitment efforts should be expanded next year,” Brewer said.
This year’s application process also included role-playing exercises, to assess group decision-making skills. Manhattan has 12 community boards, each comprising 50 volunteer members serving staggered two-year terms. Each year, half of each board is open to renewal and new applicants. Applicants are selected by the borough president and council members for each area. This year:
Total number of applications received: 596
Total number of new applicants: 328
Number of appointments: 321
Number of new appointees: 80
Percentage of appointees who are new board members: 25 percent
“Community Boards ensure local government includes grass-roots input in City decision-making,” Brewer said. “I thank everyone who applied, as well as partner organizations that helped vet candidates and all of my fellow elected representatives who worked with us on this process.”
Applicants who were not chosen were encouraged to apply for other participatory bodies as well.
Among this year’s new appointees were:
Christopher Santana, 40, CB3, an FDNY firefighter who has lived in CB3 his entire life. As a firefighter, he hopes to be able to use his experience to inform discussion on his board’s Transportation and Public Safety Committee.
Austin Ochoa, 19, CB4, a CUNY student who has interned in the City Council.
Angel Cortes, 25, CB4, lives in public housing, works for NYCHA as a painter, currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in urban studies.
David Holowka, 59, CB4, works as an architect for the New York Public Library. A public member of CB4 for three years, he has experience in preservation and community history – and is an example of how service on a Community Board as a public member can lead to full membership.
Terriell Peters, 43, CB12, works as a program trainer for ex-offenders. HIV-positive, gay, and formerly incarcerated himself, he says that with the help of several programs offered throughout NYC he has been able to turn his life around and now wants to serve his neighborhood on CB12.