The search for a new district manager for the borough’s most populous community board is down to two candidates.
The Community Board 9 Search Committee’s chairman, Mohammed Mujumder, said that after interviews and a review of about 20 possible candidates, two finalists for the position have been selected: William Rivera, the board’s current chairman, and Socrates Solano, an aide to Congressman Charles Rangel.
“I strongly feel that both are very good candidates,” said Mujumder, who serves as CB 9’s vice-chairman.
The search committee chairman said that Rivera appears to have a lot of interest and it seems like he is almost always in the CB 9 office. Rivera has served as both a committee chairman, and as the chair of the entire community board, Mujumder added.
Solano appears to know many elected officials and much about how government functions, Mujumder said, adding that it almost seems as if Solano has spent a lifetime working in government.
Rivera, when called for an interview, said he could not yet speak about the selection process, citing rules spelled out in the New York City Charter.
“As per the New York City Charter, a board member can be a candidate for the district manager position, but must exclude themselves from any manner in the selection process,” he said. “Unfortunately, I cannot comment on this matter yet, until the position is filled, hopefully on May 21.”
Solano said he has been in government for at least 15 years, working for Hillary Clinton’s 2000 U.S. Senate campaign, for City Council Speaker Peter Vallone and as the deputy director of the congressman’s district office.
He also worked at The DOE Fund’s Ready, Willing and Able program, helping to select soon-to-be former prisoners for entry into a street-cleaning program that provides jobs and other assistance.
Solano said that he sees the biggest challenges facing CB 9 communities is a recent surge in crime, especially shootings, in the Soundview community, and in helping New York City Housing Authority tenants in the district’s projects get the repairs their units need.
He believes he would bring experience and connections to the district manager position.
“I bring a vast Rolodex of people that I have known for many years that I can call,” said Solano, who added that he “has an in” with city commissioners, and even Mayor de Blasio, who was his chief on the 2000 Clinton campaign.
After the submitted applications had been reviewed, the five-person search committee at CB 9 each asked three different questions of the two finalists in interviews.
Among the questions’ topics that the board members posed to the candidates was how they plan to work with diverse communities comprising the board’s service area, if they are familiar with the Board of Standards and Appeals procedure and the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, and would they feel comfortable working together with the board and its members in a collective setting.
The full board is expected to vote for the new district manager as soon as the next full board meeting, said Mujumder. That meeting is scheduled for Thursday, May 21 at 7 p.m. at the CB 9 district office at 1967 Turnball Avenue.
The position of CB 9 district manager has been vacant since the board voted to removed long-time former district manger Francisco Gonzalez in January.
CB 9 comprises a broad swath of the south east Bronx, including the Castle Hill, Soundview, Parkchester and Clason Point communities.