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Keeping a steady helm - Community Board 17 re-elects executive board

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With a minimum of fanfare and fuss, members of Community Board 17 re-elected the existing executive board to serve for another year at the group’s helm.

At the board’s June meeting, which was held at Downstate Medical Center, 395 Lenox Road, board Secretary Mary Bell-Downes cast a single vote for the entire slate, which was running unopposed, sending not only Bell-Downes but also Chairperson Lloyd Mills, First Vice Chairperson Barrington Barrett, Second Vice Chairperson Phil Lieberman and Treasurer Louis Kilkenny back to the head of the class for the 2008-2009 board term.

“You made our job very easy,” remarked Nominating Committee Chairperson Douglas Allen.

There was one wrinkle when board members asked whether Kilkenny was eligible to run, since he was not present for the vote.

While, Allen stressed, Kilkenny had already said he was “willing to serve,” Julia James noted, “I don’t know whether any action can be conducted outside a public meeting.”

But, said Albert Payne – who had been the first person to raise questions about Kilkenny’s eligibility to run in absentia – “The only requirement for being present is that you must be present to vote.”

“The Nominating Committee did a wonderful job and they didn’t have to deal with pledged delegates, super delegates or the popular vote,” joked Mills after the election had concluded.

On a more serious note, he told board members that he was, “Humbled and honored to be re-elected chair. I assure you I will serve you to the best of my ability. We will continue to be productive in our advisory and service delivery roles, and together make a difference in the lives of the people we serve. The challenges are enormous, but, with your help, the future is bright.”

The community board, Mills added, “Is not about the chair or the first vice chair. It’s about the 50 members and, of course, we expect support and participation from the general public. We are all in this thing together, to make the community the best we possibly can. Working together, nothing is impossible for us to achieve.”

There are 59 community boards in the city of New York, 18 in Brooklyn. Each has 50 volunteer members who serve without remuneration for two-year terms.

Community boards – each of which has a small paid staff — are considered to be the first line of access for residents who need help with a wide range of city-related issues, and act as conduits for the views of local residents and businesspeople on projects taking place within the community.

Half of the board’s members are appointed by the borough president; the other half are appointed by the city councilmembers who represent the board area.

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