Lifelong Brooklynite Gerard Kassar was unanimously elected Saturday as the new chair of the New York State Conservative Party.
Kassar beat out Erie County Conservative Part Chair Ralph Lorigo in the State Executive Committee Vote held at the Knights Of Columbus on 86th Street in Dyker Heights/Bay Ridge. He replaces Michael Long, also of Bay Ridge who retired a month ago.
“It is a great honor for me to stand here before you as the State Chairman. I sincerely do not believe this moment would have been possible if not for the many years of mentoring that Mike Long provided me and for his friendship. His legacy as Chairman is broad and deep. I intend to protect it and expand upon it as we move forward as a Party,” said Kassar in his acceptance speech.
“And to our Executive Committee I appreciate the faith you have placed in me. I hope to make you proud. The next two years will write the future of our state and nation for decades to come. The election and re-election of conservative minded individuals to public office will be my focus,” he added.
Kassar was raised in Dyker Heights where he attended St. Ephrems Elementary School and Xaverian High School before earning a BBA in Accounting from Pace University in 1981.
Kassar’s political career began in 1979 as a college student Jerry joined the staff of former Bay Ridge Assemblywoman Florence Sullivan. This was the beginning of a 40-year legislative career in which he held several senior staff positions in the State Assembly Minority.
In 2004, Kassar was appointed as former State Sen. Martin Golden’s chief of staff – a position he held until Golden lost his seat last year to current State Sen. Andrew Gounardes.
In the Conservative Party, Kassar has been a district leader, state committee member and Brooklyn County Executive Director.
He is a former President and current Director of the Dyker Heights Civic Association and served on the Board of the former Victory Memorial Hospital.
“I have a strong modern take on politics. I believe I’m able to work with local organizations and in supporting local candidates,” Kassar said.
Kassar says while the philosophy of supporting small government and less taxes remains a staple to the Conservative Party, which generally favors Republican candidates, he did note the Party did support Democrat City Council Member Kalman Yeger (D-Borough Park, Midwood. Flatbush, Bensonhurst) and Assemblymember Simcha Eichenstein (D-Borough Park) in their recent election wins.
“While there is no shying away from the Democrats to act with the Conservative Party very limited,” Kassar said.
Kassar said the party has always been policy oriented and that with the state now facing a $2.6 billion deficit, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Democratic Party’s blaming of the federal government is beginning to run dry.
Outside of the City of New York, the New York Republican and Conservative Parties are doing very well,” said Kassar. “There were a variety of factors that can be attributed to the party’s losses in the last election, but seeing how the progressive movement has been acting, the pendulum will swing back and I’m looking forward to the campaign season.”