Community Board 1 now has a new chairperson – one with extensive experience as a community activist.
Dealice Fuller won a convincing victory Tuesday at the Board’s final meeting for the season before it breaks for two months over the summer with 25 votes against her opponent, Rob Solano’s 16 votes.
In speeches addressed to the full board prior to the votes being cast Tuesday night, each candidate placed a heavy emphasis on affordable housing and preserving the diverse character of the neighborhood which they said in recent years has been threatened by the effects of large scale development and gentrification.
Solano was the first to take the podium. He spoke at length about people struggling to find jobs and housing in the neighborhood regardless of their racial backgrounds. He emphasized how long-term residents had worked several years to make North Brooklyn desirable only to then have outsiders come in and out-price them from their homes. He vowed to bring residents both new and old together.
“I don’t want anyone to feel discriminated against in this neighborhood,” said Solano, who is also the President of Churches United For Fair Housing (CUFFH). “Together we can create real change and really engage the new people who enter into the neighborhood. We don’t want this to be a place where they just hang out in the back of the room.”
Fuller too focused on her extensive experience working for and with housing activists especially her work with the Lindsay Park Housing Co-Op, as well as her work on the executive committee of the community board as the finance secretary.
“The work that community boards do is crucial to the preservation of affordable housing in our neighborhoods,” she said. “My experience has given me a unique and broad perspective on how the community works.”
Moving forward Fuller said she did not want to state her immediate goals because she said she preferred to determine the requirements of the neighborhood in the manner of consensus – to get together with residents in the community and then put out an agenda of how to move forward.
Chris Olechowski, the outgoing chair, whose term will officially end July 1, offered words of encouragement as he ended his four-year tenure.
“Our communities are undergoing tremendous change and is faced with increasing challenges,” said Olechowski. “I feel Dealice really knows how things work in this neighborhood.”
“Whatever part I played I really hope I made some difference in shaping the lives of the people in this community,” he added.
The community board’s next session under its new chairperson will be held September 9.