Gomes had previously been part of the board’s administrative staff, serving as the interim district manager since the retirement of Mary Ann Carey last year. Prior to that she was the board’s office manager/community associate and youth coordinator.
“I'm very happy and excited,” Gomes told the Leader/Observer. “I'm looking forward to working with the community and board members to make this community as good as it can be. The first week has been great.”
She was one of three finalists, which included Scott Wolff, a director of constituent services for Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz and James McClelland, a seasoned political aide who served as chief of staff for two different elected officials.
Borough President Melina Katz was not pleased with the board’s decision to proceed with the process of filling the vacancy and expressed her dissatisfaction in a statement prior to the meeting.
Katz asked the board to delay the hiring until at least April, after which new members of the board would be appointed and begin their new terms.
“It’s perplexing at best as to why Community Board 9 feels it is absolutely necessary to steamroll this important decision upon a board that may or may not be the same in 28 days,” Katz said in a statement.
She continued, “Over six months have lapsed since the former district manager tendered her resignation. The length of time it has taken the Board to move this forward demonstrates the ongoing governance issues, which have been prevalent on Community Board 9. At this point, the prudent thing for the board to do in the interest of the community at large would have been to pause the process for merely a month until the new terms begin.”
According to the statement, over half of the members’ current terms are set to expire at the end of the month, including the tenure of board chairman Ralph Gonzalez, who has announced he will not seek re-election. There is guaranteed to be at least some, even if minor, turnover on the board.
In the statement, Katz also noted that she wrote the community board a letter dated February 23 that urged the board members to postpone the selection until after April.
“April 1 starts a new session of CB9 and given there are 29 board members whose current terms expire on March 31, it makes more sense that the process be postponed so that newly appointed board members can participate in this important decision,” a letter from Katz that was sent to the board offices read.
Board members are appointed by the borough president’s office.
The decision also raises further questions about how the public should perceive the board’s actions, said Katz.
“Public confidence in how community boards operate is not something to be dismissed by its leadership,” she said. “Such insistence on proceeding despite newspaper accounts questioning the process does nothing to help assuage the perception of conflicts at play in Community Board 9, and warrants a higher level of scrutiny.
“Such disregard for the serious questions and concerns raised by the public about this search and selection process is deeply disappointing and fully noted,” she added.
According to public records, Gomes was making just over $50,000 (specifically her salary was $55,946 in 2014) annually in her previous position. Carey, prior to her 2014 retirement, was being paid $94,665 annually.