As controversy swirled around her a little more than a year ago, Community Board 9 District Manager Mary Ann Carey said she wanted to step down from her position on her own terms.
Now she appears to be doing that.
The longtime civil servant announced this week she would retire from the role she has served in for over three decades effective Oct. 1.
“I have overseen many projects too numerous to mention here and worked with four Borough Presidents, dozens of legislators, commissioners, District Managers and their staff,” Carey, the longest-serving district manager in the borough, wrote in her resignation letter earlier this month. “In my thirty-five years of service to this great city with very little exceptions, I loved every minute.”
Carey, who lives in Howard Beach, began her stint when Mayor Ed Koch was in office, and has been with CB 9 through countless changes to the city, the community and the board itself, including most recently the rezoning of all of the board’s neighborhoods. CB 9 covers all of Woodhaven and Kew Gardens and sections of Richmond Hill and Ozone Park north of 103rd Avenue.
“I congratulate Mary Ann on her much-deserved retirement,” CB 9 Chairman Ralph Gonzalez said in a statement. “She has done so much for our community, and for so long. It’s difficult to imagine anyone truly filling her shoes. She can be proud of the legacy she’s leaving at Community Board 9. I know that many people in Queens and on the Board join me in thanking Mary Ann for her years of dedication.”
Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park), a former board member who was not even born when Carey started as district manager, said she would be “sorely missed,” but was certain she would remain active.
“Mary Ann Carey was a superb public servant who always put the best interests of the community above all else. Throughout her tenure, she played an important role in improving the quality of life for every neighborhood within the district,” he said. “Mary Ann was a strong voice for safer streets, better public transportation, historic preservation and never wavered in her commitment to serving others. I wish her nothing but the very best as she begins the next chapter of her life.”
The latter few years of Carey’s term were tumultuous, however.
In early 2013, several board members openly spoke about terminating her due to complaints over her ability to do the job. The debate climaxed in a six-hour meeting in June 2013, during which the board went into executive session to debate whether or not to fire Carey from her position.
At the time, she told the press that she felt slighted when high-ranking members of CB 9 tried to push her out, but she refused.
“I told them I’d think about it,” Carey said in June 2013. “In the end, I decided I’m not going to let anyone put me out.”
Ultimately, she was given a six-month probationary period.
But when CB 9 reconvened in the fall, questions of when her probation started or what the process was dogged the first few meetings, during which a battle between several board members and longtime member Sam Esposito erupted. Esposito was nearly fired for emails sent to other board members that some claimed were anti-Semitic, but he argued he was being targeted because of his support of Carey.
After being placed on probation, she quarreled with former chairman Jim Coccovillo, going so far as to accuse him of harassment at a January meeting — which Coccovillo was not present at. Carey later apologized. Coccovillo did not run for another term as chairman and was replaced by Gonzalez in April.
CB 9 will begin searching for a new district manager after its Sept. 9 meeting, during which the process for hiring Carey’s replacement will be explained.
Carey’s retirement will give a borough community board its first new district manager in more than two years, since Christian Cassagnol took over at Community Board 4 in Corona and Elmhurst after the death of its longtime district manager Richard Italiano in 2012.