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BY YANNIC RACK
There was a changing of the guard in Lower Manhattan this week.
Community Board 1 chose a new leader on Tuesday, overwhelmingly electing former vice-chair Anthony Notaro to the top job after his only challenger unexpectedly dropped out of the race last month.
Notaro is taking the reigns from Catherine McVay Hughes, who decided not to run for a customary third term as the unofficial — and unpaid — chief of the community.
“It’s amazing, looking back on what Catherine and the board have achieved over the last few years,” said Notaro after a ceremonial vote at the board’s June 28 meeting. “It is a bittersweet night,” he told Hughes. “Thank you for all of your hard work. And don’t go far! We’re gonna need you.”
Notaro, who is also head of the board’s Battery Park City Committee, unsuccessfully ran against former CB1 chairwoman Julie Menin in 2005.
This time around, Notaro initially faced a challenge from Paul Hovitz, co-chair of the CB1 Youth and Education Committee, but Hovitz withdrew his application in May to run for vice chairman instead on a “unity ticket.”
Though Notaro ran unopposed, Hovitz faced a challenge for the second-in-command slot from Tribeca Committee chairwoman Elizabeth Lewinsohn.
Before his fellow members cast their ballots, the Southbridge Towers resident highlighted his record and the “institutional knowledge and connections” he has made during his long tenure on the board.
“I’ve been doing this for almost 25 years now, and I think the record speaks for itself,” he said.
Lewinsohn had appealed to her colleagues to elect a new voice as the board’s second-in-command, reaching out to board members before the meeting.
“I have had the pleasure of speaking to as many of you as possible for the past few weeks,” she said before the vote. “I think that I bring a fresh perspective to the leadership of CB1. And I think that would very much balance Anthony’s institutional knowledge.”
In the end, Hovitz was elected with 27 votes, and Lewinsohn received 13.
Some on the board would have liked to see a similar contest for the top leadership position as well, with member Tom Goodkind voicing his displeasure at yet another uncontested race for chair, after Hughes had already run unopposed for both of her terms at the helm.
“With Paul no longer running, a non-contested election is great for Anthony, but it’s terrible for the board,” he told Downtown Express when Hovitz dropped his challenge last month.
In other election results, Tammy Meltzer took over as secretary from Adam Malitz, who remains on the board, and both Joel Kopel and Dennis Gault held on to their offices of treasurer and assistant secretary, respectively.
The voting and results were sandwiched in between a long list of dignitaries paying their respects to Hughes, who announced two months ago that she wouldn’t seek reelection for a third term.
Hughes, who is staying on as a regular board member, spent a tearful evening accepting proclamations from Downtown’s elected officials, who praised her leadership and “fierce advocacy” on behalf of Downtowners on issues ranging from storm resiliency and construction coordination to school overcrowding and quality-of-life concerns.
“It’s hard to say goodbye, because Catherine has just been a wonderful person to work with,” said Assemblymember Deborah Glick, who praised Hughes’ involvement with a litany of special task forces, committees and boards over the years. “We will never know how the hell she does all this,” Glick said.
Hughes has been a member of the board for more than a decade, and served as vice chair for six years before she took over as leader four years ago. The newly elected officers will assume their positions on Friday, July 1.