Meet the New District Director of Community Council 6

COBBLE HILL – Brooklyn’s Community Board 6 Welcomed New District Director Michel Racioppo in May, after a tumultuous year in which his predecessor, who held the post for 27 years, resigned amid charges of stalking a former girlfriend before being indicted a few months later for false and vol.

Michael Racioppo, District Director, Brooklyn Community Board 6

Racioppo’s induction into the role was muted in comparison. “My first day was the same day Craig was arrested,” he recalls, declining to comment further on the longtime former director of the board.

Originally from Brooklyn, Racioppo was born at Methodist Hospital and raised at CB7 in Windsor Terrace. “Despite my CB7 heritage, I think I understand CB6 quite well,” he told BKLYNER last week at CB6’s office on Baltic Street. Racioppo lived in Carroll Gardens for six years and served on Community Council 6 for four years, serving as Vice-Chairman of the Council for two years and Chairman of the Permits and Licensing Committee for three years.

Racioppo attended Xaverian High School in Bay Ridge and attended Quinnipiac University in Connecticut where he studied political science on a tennis scholarship. He received his graduate degree in American politics from Brooklyn College. He taught government and political science at Brooklyn College for about four years after graduating. Although he is fascinated by politics, he insists that he has no intention of running for political office.

“I love the history of New York City,” Racioppo said. “My grandparents were the first to show the Green-Wood cemetery around. It was the historians there, ”he added, pointing to an old cemetery map displayed above his desk. “Obviously I have a fondness for Brooklyn, but I love New York City. “

His interest in politics combined with his love for the city make Racioppo a suitable advocate for the neighborhood and its constituents. “I am delighted to serve the community,” he said. “I make myself as available as possible. I am really ready to listen, discuss and find the best way to serve the community and move forward on a whole host of issues.

One summer while teaching at Brooklyn College, his two classes were canceled for the semester, so Racioppo applied for a position as program director for the Carroll Gardens Association. It was there that he began meeting community leaders and getting involved in community councils and city council. He was Chief of Staff to District 40 Council Member Mathieu Eugene for approximately a year and a half before working for former Covenant Joan Millman. He had been with the Gowanus Canal Community Development Corporation for about two years when the position of District Director CB6 became available.

“I attended a lot of meetings,” he said, and I was “so involved anyway” that he thought he would be a perfect fit for the job. “I think I know this community and I will do my best to listen, pay attention and persevere,” he insists. “When I got the job I was convinced I would like it, but after working with [the staff], I really like it, ”he notes, acknowledging Deputy District Manager Ty Beatty, Office Manager Liza Santiago-Sierra and“ Hall of Fame Volunteer ”Helena Miskel for their hard work, efficiency and their dedication.

Left to right: Ty Beatty, Mike Racioppo, Sayar Lonial, Pauline Blake, Mark Shames and Jerry Armer at a recent Brooklyn Community Board 6 general meeting (Photo: Pamela Wong / BKLYNER)

Racioppo started his new role at the start of the summer break, making this month’s general assembly his third full board meeting, so now he has a feel for how the board actually works. For his part, he has strived to improve communication with board members, sending regular emails with various updates and improving the board’s presence on social media. It also strives to increase awareness among community members by visiting local groups and organizations, advertising board and committee meetings on LinkNYC kiosks (as well as on, and significantly adding new meeting places across the district, including the often overlooked Red Hook area.

“I think one thing my role involves is [ensuring that] people are as aware as possible, ”he says. “They might not agree with everything – the route the board took or something like that – but I think involvement and awareness is a really important part of it.”

Among the issues that concern the constituents of CB6, transport tops the list, such as the car-sharing pilot program. “You have people who are frustrated with certain changes and others who want more change,” says Racioppo, noting the need to find a balance. Other concerns for the district include affordable housing, the impending rezoning of Gowanus, and education. Racioppo plans to work with the board and “the community at large” to find how “to better advocate and address these various concerns.”

He recommends that electors who wish to participate but not necessarily join council complete the non-council committee request. “They can sign up to receive email notifications for meetings if there are particular topics of interest to them,” he says. If someone is interested in transportation issues but does not want to be part of the committee, they can fill out the form and be kept up to date on transportation related topics and upcoming meetings.

In addition to attending the monthly Community 6 General Council meetings (upcoming meetings Wednesday, November 14 at 6:30 p.m. at NYPD 78th Precinct, 65 6th Avenue), members of the CB6 community who have questions or concerns can contact Racioppo by email to racioppocb6dm @ Welcome, Mike!

Daniel E. Murphy