Community Board 7 elected Elizabeth Caputo chair during the full-board meeting Wednesday night.
Caputo, the current CB7 first vice-chair, will replace Mark Diller, CC ’80, whose term expires at the end of the month.
As chair of the board, which takes a stand on issues facing the Upper West Side, she will represent the neighborhood in city government and steer the board’s often contentious debates.
Caputo told Spectator that, as chair, she hopes “to really try to include as many voices in the neighborhood as possible.”
“My job is to guarantee a fair process,” she said. “I believe that I’m capable of doing that.”
Caputo, who has lived on the Upper West Side for 19 years, works in infrastructure finance. She has served on CB7 for three-and-a-half years, and before taking the role of first-vice chair, she was the board’s second vice-chair and a member of two committees. She’s also the chair of Democratic Leadership for the 21st Century, a youth progressive organization.
Caputo said she had spent a considerable amount of time reaching out to board members about what issues were most important to them and that she hoped, going forward, to “leverage each of their strengths.”
“We have 50 very, very strong leaders on this board,” she said. “My job is to try to harness that and move it forward.”
The most pressing issues facing the board, Caputo said, include affordable housing, small businesses, land use, and development. She also said she hoped to increase CB7’s visibility among constituencies that may not be familiar with the board’s work, in part by raising the board’s social media presence.
She was elected by secret paper ballot over CB7 member Roberta Semer.
At the meeting on Wednesday, Diller’s last as chair, elected officials and community members commended him for his service. Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer presented him with an award and declared Oct. 2, 2013, “Mark Diller Appreciation Day.”
Diller told Spectator that the achievements he was most proud of included the rezoning of segments of Broadway, Amsterdam, and Columbus avenues to preserve smaller storefronts and restrict larger banks and chain stores.
He also said that the way CB7 approved the controversial Columbus Avenue bike lane was an example of successful public participation in the land use process.
“I think we ran a very good process, and making sure that the whole of our community is heard on these issues,” Diller said.
Overall, Diller said he was impressed by CB7 members’ willingness not only to take a position on an issue but also to “take our show on the road”—to go before the City Council and advocate issues in person.
“I think we make the community board have a little more credibility and a little more recognition,” Diller said. “I’m proud to have been a part of that.”
Diller said he would miss the opportunity, as chair of the board, to speak to and testify before people in “real positions of power.”
“It’s something I’ve tried to honor with my service,” Diller said, adding that his platform conferred “a real responsibility to make sure you know what you’re saying.”
Diller added that although he wasn’t certain he would continue serving as a CB7 member after his term ends in March, he hopes to “continue to be of use and of service.”
“The one thing we don’t lack for on the Upper West side is smart, engaged, committed people,” Diller said.
Diller said he was confident Caputo would serve the board well and said that he would be “involved in making sure there’s a smooth transition.”