2015-10-21 / Front Page

Joseph Risi Elected CB 1 Chair

By Richard Gentilviso

Community Board 1 went back to the drawing board and elected Joseph Risi Jr. as chairperson after a previous vote ended in a deadlock last month.

The final tally, 28 for Risi, 14 for George Stamatiades, and one abstention was announced by Second Vice Chairperson Norma Nieves-Blas after a detailed outline of voting procedure and the counting process at the October 20 meeting of CB 1 at the Astoria World Manor. The September election resulted in a 20 to 20 tie between Risi and Stamatiades.

“I want to pledge my dedication to the board,” said Risi. “We have a wonderful group of specially skilled people (as board members),” he said. “Hopefully, we’re going to make us not only Community Board 1 but the number one community board.”

Stamatiades remains first vice chairperson and graciously thanked everyone. 

“I want you to know my wife is 100 percent relieved,” he joked.

Risi, a practicing attorney in Astoria for 32 years and a member of the board for 26 years, was formerly Counsel to the late Senator George Onorato and a deputy superintendent for the state insurance department.

He previously served as the board’s executive secretary and as chairperson of the consumer affairs committee for the last ten years. He is the second chairperson of CB 1 succeeding Vinicio “Vinny” Donato who stepped down in August after nearly four decades as chairperson.

“I think we have a vibrant, diverse, beautiful community (and) I would love the opportunity to serve as the chair,” Risi said in his introduction statement to the board at the September meeting. He now has that opportunity.

Before the election, board member John C.V. Katsanos briefed members on the legal and parliamentary aspects of the vote and the board’s bylaws. Katsanos was charged with researching the voting procedures.

Katasanos told the board there is a hierarchy in the election process involving state and municipal law in addition to the community board bylaws and Robert’s Rules of Order.

“The (previous) motion to elect a chairperson was null and void,” said Katasanos, according to Robert’s Rules and new nominations were required resulting in the re-nominations of Risi, Jr. and Stamatiades.

Katsanos said there was no provision in the bylaws for a tie vote and suggested a way to amend the bylaws in the event of a tie vote, specifically by plurality.

“In the event of a tie vote, additional votes may be taken until a winning nominee is selected by a plurality of votes,” explained Katsanos. “A plurality is defined as the number of votes cast for a candidate who receives more than any other (candidate) but does not receive an absolute majority.”

“So we vote and vote and vote until someone decides to change their vote,” said board member Thomas Ryan, rhetorically. “That’s too generic, we could go on all night. We need something more definitive.”

Katsanos said the board was restricted by state and municipal law to follow one person one vote rule, and could not designate tie breaking votes otherwise.

The motion to amend the bylaws was tabled.

Nieves-Blas determined that 43 members were present and eligible to vote out of 49 members currently on the board. Those members were given ballots with their names on them, as required by state law. Three members were selected to count votes and two others to observe counting. Voting was closed once the ballots were collected.


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