Community Board 1 Chair Clarisa Alayeto. Photo courtesy of DREAM/X.

In a heated contest between familiar rivals, youth educator Clarisa Alayeto edged out one-term incumbent Arline Parks at Bronx Community Board 1’s Nov. 30 vote for chairperson. The vote was held by secret ballot at Lincoln Hospital’s auditorium, where the board regularly holds its end-of-month, full board meetings. 

When the votes were counted, Alayeto prevailed by a razor thin 19 to 16 margin. The match was a repeat of September 2021, when Parks defeated Alayeto by seven votes. 

Controversy overshadowed the proceedings since June when Board 1’s executive committee cancelled elections, then did the same in September. 

But at Board 1’s October meeting, newly appointed board members loudly objected to the suggestion of a third postponement, voting instead to hold a November election by secret ballot so people could be ensured they could vote without feeling intimidated.

Board members lined up to cast their ballots for chair, vice chair and second vice chair at the front of Lincoln’s auditorium. When the votes were counted and Alayeto was announced the new chair, a loud ovation erupted. Representatives from the mayor and Bronx borough president’s office congratulated the board on having conducted a fair and democratic vote.

Alayeto, 41, has served on Board 1’s youth and education committee since she was appointed to the board in 2017. She works as manager of community engagement and public affairs at DREAM, a child educational nonprofit. 

Board 1 members line up to cast their ballots on Nov. 30. Photo by Ricardo Partida.

Alayeto, who was raised at Patterson Houses in Mott Haven, told The Herald her priorities will include updating the board’s website and social media presence, to add transparency and wider public accessibility to its mission. Bringing Board 1 “up to speed on technology” is a long overdue task, along with live streaming and recording meetings, to ensure the general public can follow developments, she said. Currently the most recent set of meeting minutes posted for full board meetings on the board’s website dates back to May. The most recent minutes from committee meetings dates back to November 2022. 

Parks, who is CEO of Diego Beekman Mutual Housing in Mott Haven, served as the board’s land use committee chair before she was elected chair two years ago. 

In the vote for first vice chair, Housing and Land Use Chair Freddy Perez Jr., 59, prevailed. A Mott Haven native, Perez, who joined the board in 2009, also oversees liquor and cannabis licensing for the board. He owns FPJ Amusements and Entertainment Services Inc., a party rental venue based in Melrose. 

Mott Haven resident Ambroise Ngand, 64, who serves on the municipal services committee, was voted second vice chair.

Community board members are volunteers who live or work in the districts they represent. Only the district manager and administrative staff are city employees. Community boards are considered the city’s most localized level of government, even though board decisions are strictly advisory. Members are appointed by borough presidents and city council members of each district, to represent the interests of the communities they live and work in. 

About Post Author