Volume 75, Number 4 | June 15- 21, 2005

MacPherson drops out; Derr will be C.B. 2 chairperson

By Lincoln Anderson

A week before what was shaping up to be a very close race for Community Board 2 chairperson, Don MacPherson has decided to drop out of the running, leaving Maria Passannante Derr as the sole candidate and assured of being elected.

MacPherson notified Jim Smith, the board’s outgoing chairperson, of the news on Tuesday, requesting that Smith inform the rest of the board of his decision. Smith told The Villager later in the afternoon.

MacPherson said that with the responsibilities of having a new son, Donald, born two months ago, as well as two other young children ages 6 1/2 and 9, and the demands of his job as publisher of the magazine Soho Journal and as a photographer — he has shot the female nude exclusively for the last 30 years — he just didn’t have enough time to devote to being board chairperson.

“I felt it would be unfair to the other board members,” MacPherson said. Plus, he said, he wanted to tackle major entrenched problems, like air pollution, traffic issues and illegal billboards, which would have made being chairperson even more challenging. “What I wanted to do requires too much time,” he said.

He said he’d been doing “a lot of thinking” recently and opted to make his announcement to the board “to give people a week to rest and think.”

The election campaign had been very hotly contested, with the Greenwich Village board’s Business Committee under fire. MacPherson, a Soho resident, felt residents needed a greater voice on the board and specifically on the committee, which reviews liquor license applications for bars and restaurants. On the other hand, Bob Rinaolo, who was a chairperson candidate, felt board members from Soho and Hudson Sq. had become too stridently anti-bar. Rinaolo later withdrew from the race. He subsequently backed Derr for chairperson — after MacPherson told him he thought the board’s Business Committee was unfairly weighted in favor of bar and nightlife interests and needed balance.

MacPherson admitted he thought Derr held a slight edge, but that one never knows how an election will turn out. Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields recently removed two well-known Village community activists from the board, Tobi Bergman and Jo Hamilton, and hasn’t filled several other vacancies. Bergman was definitely a vote for MacPherson.

For now, MacPherson, currently a vice chairperson of the board, said he plans to “sit back” and just be a regular member. He said he’s willing to start fresh regarding issues like bars. He’s taking a philosophical view.

“Hopefully, Maria, like the philosopher king would do, having attained power, will use it wisely…. We’ll see it as a tabula rasa, and see how it goes.”

Derr and Rinaolo could not be reached for comment by press time.

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