New York was experiencing record high temperatures of 79º on this particular Wednesday and the welcoming warmth served as the perfect backdrop of Bay Ridge’s inaugural ferry service to Manhattan and KCP’s sit-down with City Council candidate, Kevin Peter Carroll –– as he talked life and policy in District 43.
While he applauded the new ferry service, he remains skeptical of whether or not the new mode of transportation will sustain because of parking infrastructure in the area and the lack of shuttle service to the ferry. The true New Yorker, who has never learned how to drive, proudly relies on New York City transportation, a system he deems inefficient and has campaigned to reorganize during his successful Democratic district leader bid seven years ago.
Carroll, the only openly gay City Council candidate vying for the District 43 seat, has a long history with politics dating back as far as 1993 when he handed out flyers for Sal Albanese’s successful re-election attempt at City Council. Carroll was a mere 7 years old at the time, but now boasts that one of the Bay Ridge constituents who he helped distribute flyers for in the 1990s has become a contributor to his very own candidacy for City Council.
Carroll also comes from an old Brooklyn political family and his first cousin is recently elected Assemblymember Robert C. Carroll (D-Park Slope, Kensington, Windsor Terrace).
As the current Democratic District Leader of the 64th Assembly District, Carroll is the only candidate in the race who has run and won an election. He successfully succeeded long-time incumbent Democratic District Leader Ralph Perfetto –– an impressive undertaking that grabbed the attention of City Councilmember Stephen Levin (D-Northern Brooklyn), his current employer.
But Carroll hasn’t always been a part of winning campaigns, he recalled his uncle John W. Carroll’s defeat to now Mayor Bill de Blasio during the September 11, 2001 City Council race. “The day when we all thought we would have a decision, we didn’t,” solemnly reflected Carroll.
“You said french-fries instead of home fries with toast. Butter?” interrupted the waitress at the noisy diner.
“Of Course, I’m Irish! Is it Kerrygold or not?” joked the energetic and animated Carroll, as he gave the waitress, at Lighthouse Cafe, 7506 3rd Avenue in Bay Ridge, his breakfast order.
The candidate is proud of his Irish roots and gloated over his 16-year membership with the Brooklyn Irish American Parade Committee. The committee participated in this year’s 150th Annual Memorial Day Parade, in which Carroll held the American flag.
His long-time service in the community has fostered a special alliance with the NORC (Naturally Occurring Retirement Community) constituency. As a former member of the community based non-profit organization, the Shore Road Garden Council, Carroll was able to see the growing displacement of District 43’s senior community first hand.
“We need affordable housing–– specifically for the seniors, they absolutely need it. They’ve put in their whole lives for us.”
The candidate expressed frustration that the Shore Hill Housing Facility is unable to accommodate its local senior community.
“When they built that it was supposed to be community residents first,” said Carroll.
The redistricting of the Bay Ridge Houses has also attributed to the lack of senior housing in the District. Both facilities, Carroll complained, are unable to service the community in which they are located. “Senior housing is one of my top three issues in the campaign, said Carroll. “Seniors have to move out of New York because they can’t pay the rent.”
One of his proudest moments during his tenure as district leader occurred when 10 local residents from the Bay Ridge Towers testified against redistricting the high-rises during a City Council hearing.
Despite losing the Bay Ridge Tower battle, the large senior community of Bay Ridge has been showing up for Carroll. As of June 1, he boasted 233 individual donors. Carroll is hoping to continue his senior advocate efforts and garner support from the working community by targeting what he deems as the inefficient Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA).
Recently New York City has been the subject of a number of transportation snafus becoming the subject of aggressive coverage from both news mediums and engaged citizens. District 43 has experienced its own bouts with the MTA over the recent closing of the Bay Ridge train station and area’s lack of accessibility to train stations. As District Leader, Carroll campaigned to eliminate the MTA and place the responsibilities of New York City transportation under the city’s Department of Transportation.
The reform of the MTA is still a key part of Carroll’s platform, but this time the candidate’s drive is a bit more personal. Carroll’s mother, Dorothy Carroll, has been confined to a wheelchair for the past 3 years and the realities of inaccessibility within the area are even more pronounced.
“Now that I see my mom in a wheelchair, she can’t take the subway anywhere in the district,” said Carroll.
Carroll, 31, is the middle child of two sisters, but the youngest candidate for City Council Member of District 43. Although the candidate admitted he is surprised at being the youngest candidate, that doesn’t intimidate him, especially having defeated incumbent Profetto, who was three times his age.
“I’m not the youngest District Leader anymore – it’s Schwartz in Dov Hikind’s District,” said Carroll referring to David Schwartz of the 48th Assembly District representing Borough Park and parts of Flatbush.
His millennial status prompted a conversation about the prominence of opioid addiction amongst youngsters in the community. “I’ve seen too many deaths,” said Carroll. The candidate says prevention, enforcement and treatment are the three areas that need attention in combatting the drug issue and has been a long-time supporter of Donna May DePola’s efforts in Bay Ridge.
Carroll says he spent a large portion of his door-to-door campaign advocating for the rehabilitation center during his 2012 re-election bid for District Leader. “I think by a community leader doing that, it helped blunt what I was definitely afraid of – NIMBY (Not in my backyard),” said Carroll, adding he is proud that DePola is supporting his campaign.”
Carroll provided an interesting insight on the learning curves and hard work that go into campaigning. Details surrounding a candidate questionnaire often forces a contender to do some research on an unfamiliar topic. The American Federation of Musicians’ (Local 802) questions on copyright law stumped the candidate but versing himself on specific music principles mirror the preparation that goes into advocating for his community.
“I thought, what the hell do I know about music?” said Carroll “But I looked it up. I read it. Then I gave my opinion on it.”
Taking a leave of absence as Levin’s scheduler was essential to campaigning for the city council position. “[Campaigning for City Council] has been a lot tougher than [campaigning for] District Leader,” said Carroll. The candidate acknowledged the daunting three-pronged responsibility of working for Levin, advocating as District Leader and running for the City Council.
“And the one I gave up is the only one that pays!” proclaimed Carroll as he poked fun at his employment decisions.