Community Board 9 rejected a call by some members to re-do an election this week after the wrong person was crowned chairwoman during a mix-up last month.
At the board’s March 14 meeting in Woodhaven, CB 9 officials announced members voted 18-17 to elect Joan DeCamp as the new chairwoman. However, they recounted the votes the following morning and discovered the vote was actually 18-17 in favor of the sitting chairwoman, Andrea Crawford.
Since then, DeCamp filed a formal objection to Queens Borough President Helen Marshall’s office, which referred the matter to the city law department. The law department has said ballots were not counted incorrectly and that the matter boiled down to a misstatement by a CB 9 staff member who attributed the wrong name to the wrong ballot count.
“We went through our procedures at our executive committee meeting, and we realized we have to tighten up our procedures,” Crawford said at Tuesday night’s meeting at Villa Russo Il Palazzo in Richmond Hill. “There will be two counts done. People will be seated, and it won’t be done at the end of the meeting when everyone’s tired.”
At Tuesday’s meeting, some board members argued there should be another vote for chairperson, while others said the group should move on. Ultimately, they voted 25-15 to not hold another election, with five new members abstaining.
The group would have needed two-thirds of the members present to vote for a new election in order for it to be held.
“I feel a bit uncomfortable with the whole situation,” said board member Nick Comaianni. “I feel very uncomfortable the election was overturned the next day behind closed doors.”
Sam Esposito, another board member, agreed with Comaianni.
“These ballets went home unaccounted for,” Esposito said. “None of us got to see them.”
Crawford emphasized that the ballots have been available for any board member to review at the CB 9 office.
Board member Maria Thomson said she did not agree with holding another election.
“This is ridiculous,” Thomson said. “We have new members on the board who weren’t here last month. This is not correct. This is out of order.”
DeCamp, who has been working with CB 9 leaders to revamp the group’s election regulations, said another vote “would not be out of order,” and that the borough president would accept the results.
Alexander Blenkinsopp, who began serving on the board this month, said a vote on holding another election puts the new members in an “awkward position.”
“We don’t know what happened at the last meeting,” Blenkinsopp said.
Each of the five new members abstained during the vote.
Board member Sylvia Hack emphasized that the board should focus on moving on instead of focusing on past mistakes.
“We’ve always operated in a very congenial way,” Hack said. “You have the ballots; you know what the count is. To try and undo a legal election is truly unheard of.”
Still, board member Regina Santoro said last month’s mix-up has other ramifications.
“I would’ve nominated Joan for vice-chair, but I couldn’t because I thought she was chair,” Santoro said.
In other meeting news, Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) announced the city has begun construction on what will be PS 316, a new elementary school slated to open at 90th Street and 101st Avenue in September 2014.
The school will house 416 seats.
“It’ll help alleviate the overcrowding at nearby schools,” Ulrich said. We’re very excited that’s underway.”
Meanwhile, CB 9 District Manager Mary Ann Carey reported she testified at the end of March on the mayor’s proposed budget, which she said would decimate the budgets of community boards across the city.
“There is this unrelenting budget war the mayor continues to wage on community boards,” Carey said.