Reforming Our Community Boards

As the longest-serving chair of Community Board 7, I saw firsthand the impact Community Boards make in Manhattan. But as with any institution, Community Boards need reform if they are to fully deliver results for their constituents. The chief role of any Borough President is to oversee Manhattan’s twelve Community Boards. As your next Borough President, I will use my years of local experience to make our boards more responsive, accessible, and representative than ever before.

Make the Borough President’s office and Community Boards more responsive than ever

As a former three-term Chair of Community Board 7, I introduced transparency and accessibility through social media accounts and live streaming Community Board meetings. As Borough President, I will work to ensure that all Community Boards use technology and social media to the fullest to reach our constituents. This includes:

 

●      Live streaming all Community Board meetings once they resume in-person.

●      Setting consistent minimum expectations for Community Board online presence

●      Making proposals under Community Board consideration available online for public debate and comment before, so that the public has ample opportunity to weigh in on planning decisions. 

 

I commit to making the Borough President's office the most responsive in its history. All constituents will receive a response to queries within 24 hours of contacting my office. 

 

My staff and I will harness all forms of media to reach Manhattanites where they are. From print and email newsletters, to in-person and telephone town halls, to social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, I will share up-to-date information with Manhattanites, and they will have a direct line to share ideas and feedback. I will visit constituencies across the Borough to hear directly about constituents’ concerns, needs, and preferences.

Bring the Borough President’s office to more communities

Currently, the work of the Borough President and twelve Community Boards is geographically consolidated near City Hall in Lower Manhattan, which houses both the staff who support the Borough President and Community Boards and hosts monthly meetings of Community Board chairs led by the Borough President.

 

I will change that. I pledge to move the Borough President's office from Lower Manhattan to East 125th Street in the heart of Harlem, a more central and accessible location for my constituents.

 

I also pledge to rotate the location of the monthly meeting, so that it is held in a different community district each month and every district hosts one meeting per year.

Increase diversity on Community Boards

I know from personal experience that most Manhattan Community Board members are knowledgeable, dedicated, and committed to improving the Borough. However, despite some efforts at inclusion, Community Boards broadly do not represent the wonderful diversity of Manhattan. 

 

This is not a mere issue of optics. I saw firsthand that when Community Board 7 was comprised of residents from more diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, including communities of color and residents of public housing, it made better decisions and more effectively addressed issues that directly affected these underrepresented communities. Even when boards have diverse membership, representatives from underrepresented communities often end up out of leadership positions.

 

As Borough President, I pledge to recruit boards that represent the communities they serve – and to elevate diverse members into leadership positions on Boards and in committees.