It’ll be down to the finish line next week for a new leader of Community Board 11, covering a major stretch of the east Bronx.
Three members are vying to fill the seat of longtime chair Dom Castore, who died last month after a lengthy illness.
The board, covering Morris Park, Pelham Parkway, Van Nest, Eastchester and Allerton, has been without an official chair for the past two years.
After a somewhat chaotic nominating session at the Nov. 29 general meeting, the nominees are Al D’Angelo, Joe McManus and Tony Vitaliano, with members due to take a final vote at the Dec. 20 general board meeting.
Whoever wins will have to work with a board whose members often talk out of turn, bicker over procedure or simply filibuster over various local issues.
“We have to go in as one,” said nominee and first board chair Vitaliano, who has served as acting chair since 2010 when Castore’s illness left him unavailable for meetings. “If we go as one we have strength…you get mission accomplished that way.”
Vitaliano is a retired decorated NYPD lieutenant who spent 40 years on the job, capping his career running Bronx homicide and robbery commands.
McManus, another longtime member, said he intends to streamline meetings, ending their ongoing disorder. He said he also will impose an eight-year term limit on himself if elected chair.
A member Enterprise Association Steamfitters Local 638 for over 40 years, he currently is its Bronx political representative.
McManus is also a Democratic state committeeman for the 80th Assembly District who actively campaigned for local Assemblywoman Naomi Rivera, who lost in the September primary to Mark Gjonaj.
Under City Charter rules, McManus’ political position won’t bar him from chairing the board.
But D’Angelo, longtime president of the Morris Park Community Association and a principal for a Catholic school in New Rochelle, said he’s concerned McManus’ political position could turn the board into a political body with Democratic leanings.
“I don’t know if somebody who holds public office should be chairman of the community board,” said D’Angelo, who attended Gjonaj fundraisers during the campaign. “Their allegiance will be to the party leader, not constituents.”
D’Angelo has been with MPCA for decades, addressing neighborhood concerns to CB11. He’s also a member of the Community Advisory Council under Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
Under board procedures for the Dec. 20 vote, each of the candidates will speak for three minutes, highlighting their strengths, followed by a question-and-answer segment, with nominees given one-minute response times to member questions.
The executive board initially barred any questions to candidates at the Dec. 20, but the majority of the board rejected that move at the Nov. 29 meeting.
Board chairpersons, an unpaid position, work as liaisons between board members and the district manager, who executes any motions the board passes.
They are also the eyes and ears of the neighborhood for quality of life issues.
But it’s often a chairperson’s approach that sets the tone for the board.
“You can’t push people around that are volunteers,” said D’Angelo, “because they’ll tell you where to go.”
All candidates agree they want to see an end to the chaos that has often marked meetings at the 48-member board.
Under board rules, candidates for chair must win at least 50% of the vote from those present at the meeting. If no candidate wins at least that percentage, the two candidates with the most votes will square off in a runoff election.
According to a community board’s by-laws, each member’s vote is public.
David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at DCruz@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3383