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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Community board candidates stress inclusiveness

By Shant Shahrigian
Posted

For the first time in about a decade, at least two candidates are vying to fill a vacancy at the head of Community Board (CB) 8. Vice Chairwoman Maria Khury and Transportation Committee Chairman Dan Padernacht will face off for the chairmanship when the board’s 50 members meet to elect this year’s officers on Tuesday, June 10.

Ms. Khury is calling on years of experience at CB 8 and support from outgoing Chairman Robert Fanuzzi. Mr. Padernacht, a former state senate candidate, hopes his accomplishments on the transportation committee will win the minimum of 26 votes needed to become chair.

In recent phone interviews, both Ms. Khury, a businesswoman, and Mr. Padernacht, a lawyer, said they would try to increase community participation in CB 8. Describing Marble Hill and parts of Kingsbridge as underrepresented on the board, Ms. Khury, 59, said she would seek to involve more residents of those neighborhoods in CB 8’s activities. Mr. Padernacht, 37, said he would improve outreach to people affected by specific meetings and agenda items.

“Certain communities have the ability to have a lot of people come out,” Ms. Khury said. “They have the time. They have the energy. Other communities don’t come out because they’re like, ‘What am I going to say? I speak with an accent.’”

“I want to encourage those people to come out,” Ms. Khury concluded.

The vice chair said she is currently organizing more board involvement with Marble Hill — a neighborhood that includes 11 public housing high-rises — including a public forum with members of CB 8, NYCHA, the NYPD and other officials later this month.

Mr. Padernacht said if he is elected, he would make sure people who stand to be affected by specific agenda items know of meetings beforehand so they have a chance to weigh in.

“A lot of times, community members come to a board meeting when the real time for the community to engage is at the committee meetings,” he said. “Those are what I would concentrate on as chair — working with the relevant committees, making sure the public has the opportunity to speak out on the issues.”

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