De Blasio Adds First Appointee To Influential Health Board

NEW YORK -

With decisions on matters as diverse as bris milah to large soda bans upcoming before the city’s Health Board, Mayor Bill de Blasio got his first chance to embed his own policies on New York City by adding his first appointee to the powerful policy-setting panel.

Taking her seat on Tuesday, Gail Nayowith has already taken her first vote in the 11-member board, voting with the majority to keep a ban on ferrets as pets.

The board is very influential in setting health policy, from ordering forced evacuations of entire neighborhoods during the yellow fever plague in 1805 to banning trans fats from restaurant food two centuries later.

Among the most controversial decisions it will face over the summer is whether to agree with de Blasio’s deal to uphold religious freedom and cancel its Bloomberg-administration-era recommendation requiring consent forms for metzitzah b’peh. Nine of the members were appointed by ex-mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Nayowith most recently served as executive director of SCO Family of Services, ending her position there in November of last year.