Board Rivalry Takes Friendly Turn, as Members Vie for Chair Post

The Brooklyn Paper
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With the tenure of Community Board 10’s current chair winding down, the race is on for his successor.

When Dean Rasinya leaves the post at the end of this year, when term limits kick in, he will hand over the leadership of the board to one of two people: Longtime CB 10 member Joanne Seminara or a relative newcomer, who has quickly risen through the ranks, Ron Gross.

Seminara was selected to run for the post of chairperson by the Nominating Committee appointed by Rasinya, which voted three to two in favor of Seminara’s selection.

Gross -- the board’s secretary -- was nominated from the floor by member Kevin Peter Carroll.

Seminara, the female Democratic district leader in the 60th Assembly District, said she sees the position of CB 10 chair as a natural extension of her 25 years of community service. Noting that she has been on the board for 16 years -- and put in stints as chair of its Health & Welfare and Zoning & Land Use Committees -- Seminara also pointed to her ongoing efforts as a member of many local groups, including the Alliance of Bay Ridge Block Associations, Bay Ridge Against Garbage Sites and the community advisory board of the Guild for Exceptional Children.

“I think I have the advocacy skills and the community building skills,” Seminara told this paper, stressing, as well, “I am intimately familiar with all types of issues that come before the board.” She spends three or four evenings each week on her community involvement, Seminara noted. “I put two kids through public school. I have an office in the district. I have a home in the district. I think I bring a lot to the table.”

From her perspective, Seminara went on, being chair would be “a great opportunity. We have a fantastic board and a fantastic staff. I am very excited about the prospect of chairing the board.”

Gross, who has delved deeply into historic preservation and became involved locally when he helped prepare the Senator Street Historic District application, said that, in his view, what he would bring to the leadership of CB 10 would be a commitment to being proactive. “I think the board has been very reactive in the past several years,” Gross remarked. “We need to be proactive. We need to reach out to the community to see what needs aren’t being fulfilled.”

For instance, Gross remarked, the board’s Senior Issues Committee “doesn’t meet very often at all, and we live in the community that has the highest senior population in the city of New York. That’s incongruous. Something isn’t happening right.”

Gross also said that he believes his lack of “party affiliation” would be a boon. “I’m not beholding to either side, so I think I can serve the community better,” he contended.

Both Gross and Seminara said they believed that the election would take the form of a good-natured rivalry. “It’s a friendly competition,” Gross remarked.

At a recent dinner held to thank Rasinya for his years as chair, “Joanne and I were joking with each other,” Gross recalled. “Joanne is competent. She’s a friend. This is a matter of timing for me. I think the time is right and I can do a better job serving this community at this point in time.”

The campaigning “has been and seems like it will be” civilized, added Seminara who noted, “The board members work really well together and we’ll continue to work well together. I think we have one of the best boards in the city. We have accomplished a lot and have a lot to be proud of, and we will continue to do the same job, no matter who’s chair.”

The election will take place at the next board meeting, Monday, December 14th, at 7:15 p.m., which will be held in the community room at Shore Hill, 9000 Shore Road.

Nominated for the other leadership positions, and running unopposed are Brian Kieran for vice chairperson, Eleanor Schiano for secretary and Mary Ann Walsh for treasurer,

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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