CB3 Leadership Challenged

Chad Marlow (Photo by Lesley Sussman via The Villager)

Chad Marlow (Photo by Lesley Sussman via The Villager)

Editor’s update: Gigi Li was re-elected as chair of Community Board 3 by a vote of 31 to 15 on June 24. She promised, according to The Lo-Down, “structural and leadership changes.”

Controversy is heating up at Community Board 3 in Manhattan, already the subject of charges that its leader, Gigi Li, has overlooked African-American and Latino members for key committee positions.

Now, Chad Marlow, a senior policy advisor to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, is challenging Li for leadership of CB3, saying that his primary goal is “to ensure that (the) board operates in a manner that is democratic, transparent and inclusive.” The board will vote on the position June 24.

Marlow is a former president of the Village Independent Democrats who has served on numerous community boards. Li, who has served as CB3 leader since 2012, is director of the Neighborhood Family Services Coalition.

Gigi Li (Photo via The Lo-Down)

Gigi Li (Photo via The Lo-Down)

During a CB3 meeting on May 27, reports The Lo-Down, Li was defended against charges of discrimination by City Councilwoman Rosie Mendez.

“I just want to say I believe that Gigi Li did not intentionally discriminate against any minority group,” Mendez said. “I think maybe she made some mistakes on process and I have told her about that.” Referring to the investigation being conducted by the Borough President’s office, Mendez said she looked forward to reviewing the findings when the inquiry is complete.

Ayo Harrington, the board member who had filed a complaint with the Manhattan Borough president about Li’s “failure to appoints Blacks or Latinos” to committee, objected to Mendez’ remarks.

“It’s really not helpful for an elected official to make that type of comment” before the investigation is complete, she complained.

In an article in The Villager, reporter Lesley Sussman quotes the challenger Marlow as saying that CB 3’s operations had necessitated the intervention of the Manhattan borough president three times in the past seven months “because we have gone so far off the rails.”

Asked if his decision to oppose Li was personal and some type of vendetta against a board leader with different views than his own about C.B. 3’s role in the community, and who he has clashed with at board meetings on several occasions, Marlow strongly denied that was the case.

“It’s actually quite the opposite,” he said. “I actually like Gigi. I think she’s a very nice person and a very intelligent woman. I think she has pretty great things ahead of her in the future.

“But,” he added, “just as the community board would benefit from a fresh start, I think Gigi would benefit from a fresh start and needs to step away for a while. She didn’t have a lot of experience when she became chairperson and I think she’s struggling with that. I think maybe she should come back after a while and try this again.”

For more on the turmoil at CB3, check out the stories at The Lo-Down and The Villager.

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