It's never too early, says district leader
By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
It’s never too early to start raising funds for your next re-election campaign, even if you’re not on the ballot until 2014.
That’s the philosophy of Kevin Peter Carroll, the Democratic district leader of the 64th Assembly District (Bay Ridge-Staten Island), who is currently serving his second term and doesn’t have to run for re-election until next year.
Carroll, who lives in Bay Ridge, held a fundraiser on Sept. 12 at Vesuvio’s, a restaurant on Third Avenue, where more than 125 Democratic Party officials, lawmakers, and Bay Ridge community activists packed into the party room to toast him and sing his praises. Among the notables there were Kings County Democratic Party Chairman Frank Seddio, state senators Diane Savino and Eric Adams, assembly members Alec Brook-Krasny and Walter Mosley, and council members Vincent Gentile, Letitia James and Domenic Recchia.
“I don’t think it’s too early to start raising money,” Carroll told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. “There is talk about the primary being moved up from September to June. That means petitioning starts in March or April,” he said.
Carroll said he had hoped to raise at least $10,000 at his fundraiser. “We exceeded our goal,” he said.
Carroll, whose day job is working as an aide to Councilman Stephen Levin (D-Greenpoint-Williamsburg), said he’s not anticipating a primary challenge but wants to be prepared, just in case.
Carroll, who is in his 20's, won the district leadership in 2010 by defeating longtime leader Ralph Perfetto, who had held the post for more than 20 years. The young upstart campaigned on a theme of reuniting Bay Ridge into a single assembly district. The neighborhood is currently carved up into five assembly district. Democratic voters in the district were taken with his doggedness on the issue. Carroll and other advocates ultimately lost that fight. In the 2012 re-districting process, Bay Ridge remained separated by assembly districts. “I still want a single district. We have 10 more years to get this back,” he said.
There are two district leaders, a male and a female, for each major political party in every assembly district in New York State. District leaders, who are unpaid, are the grass-roots organizers of a political party. They recruit candidates to run for public office, gather petition signatures to get candidates on the ballot, and set up phone banks where volunteers call voters to seek support for a candidate, among other duties.
“We recruit volunteers, organize phone banks, go to churches, and spread the word at subway stations. I’m a big believer in going to subway stops. You meet a lot of voters that way,” Carroll said.
District leaders are also responsible for the hiring of polling inspectors that work on Election Day. “I take that part of the job very seriously. It’s important to our democratic process to ensure safe and fair elections,” Carroll said.
As a district leader, Carroll is also a state committeeman for the Democratic Party. He is also a member of the executive board of the Kings County Democratic Party. His immediate goals, he said, are to work for the election of Bill de Blasio for mayor, Ken Thompson for Brooklyn district attorney, and for other Democratic candidates, including Gentile, who is running for re-election for the Bay Ridge council seat.
But Carroll sees his role as more expansive than just campaigning for elected officials. “I think it’s also important to be a community leader and to be active in the community. I work on a lot of issues as a member of Community Board 10 and as a member of the 68th Precinct Community Council. One of the things I’m most proud of at my fundraiser is the fact that there were a lot of community people there,” he said.