CROWN HEIGHTS — The notoriously tumultuous central Brooklyn community board has chosen a new leader.
Community Board 9, which covers Crown Heights and Prospect Lefferts Gardens, on Tuesday elected Fred Baptiste as its chair, a position vacated last month by Patricia Baker, who decided not to run due to her frustration with the board’s dysfunction. In turn, Baptiste, who has been a member of the board since 2012, ran for chair without opposition.
On Tuesday evening, he received 27 out of the 29 votes cast by CB9 members. (Two write-in votes went for Baker, who was chair for one year). The vote came at a special meeting that was scheduled earlier this month, after in June, during its last regularly scheduled meeting before the summer break, the board ran out of time to elect a new chair when Baker announced she would not run for re-election but would remain on the community board.
“What I am here to do is do some serious work in terms of getting our board to where we want to be,” said Baptiste in the Crown Gardens Community Room in Crown Heights. “We’re talking about making sure our committees are functioning, we’re talking about making sure we have a dynamic relationship with government officials, and making sure that we are truly the voice of our community.”
Though there was only one candidate seeking the position of chair, the vote did not come without some minor discord. Initially, Baker said that, since Baptiste was the only candidate in the running for chair, he would assumed the position without a vote.
“Since I withdrew my candidacy at the last meeting for chair of the board, we have Mr. Fred Baptiste, and he has no opposition so that automatically makes him chair of the board,” she said.
That sparked murmurs and shouts from those who argued a recorded vote needed to be taken even though there was only one candidate running for chair. Some suggested the board take a voice vote.
“We have to vote him in!” said Rabbi Yaacov Behrman, a CB9 member.
Baptiste was among those calling for a paper ballot vote.
“We have to have a recorded vote from every member, which is part of the reason we have signed ballots,” he said.
Baker backed down, and along with other board members began distributing ballots.
“We are going to be working together,” said Baptiste after the votes were cast. “There’s a lot of things that I want to get done.”
“There are going to be a lot of things happening,” he continued. “I want to see a town hall, I want to see us actually engage with our community.”