Western Brooklyn

Who Is Charles Ragusa, 47th Assembly District Leader?

Charles Ragusa (Photo courtesy of Assemblyman William Colton's Office)
Charles Ragusa (Photo courtesy of Assemblyman William Colton’s Office)

Earlier this week, we profiled Billy Thai, a new face on the ballot for male district leader of the 47th Assembly District, who is challenging incumbent Charles Ragusa. But who is Ragusa? And what issues does he stand for?

The state committee member  — who is running for reelection — says he has been helping his community for more than 50 years, since he was 10 years old, according to a press release sent on behalf of Ragusa.

After graduating with a Master’s Degree in public administration from New York University, Ragusa worked as a teacher and dean at Boys & Girls High School in Bedford-Stuyvesant, and was elected to the district leader position in 1982. His long time friend William Colton (they go back 40 years!) was his campaign manager.

Ragusa says his main goal has always been to be inclusive for everyone in the community. The United Progressive Democratic Club, of which he and Colton members, has always been welcoming to everyone and all new residents and neighbors, he said.

Colton’s club touts the swearing in of Nancy Tong as female district leader — while other districts with larger Asian populations have not elected any Asian American officials — as evidence of its inclusion of Asians in the political process.

As a former teacher, Ragusa expressed concern in maintaining the prestige of New York City’s specialized high schools, a hot button issue for southern Brooklyn’s Chinese immigrant community, which sees these schools — and the admission test — as a path to prosperity.

“The standards should not be lowered to drag everyone else down. There are many great schools around. Stuyvesant, Brooklyn Tech, Bronx High School of Science, and Staten Island Tech, among others, should be kept the way they are,” he said. “I will make sure to continue to fight for keeping these schools great and advancing the community by encouraging everyone to keep working harder.”

Map of Assembly District 47
Map of Assembly District 47

On the environmental front, Ragusa says he’s had a role in shutting down the illegal Shore Parkway incinerator in 2005. Currently, Ragusa he serves as co-chair of Colton’s Anti-Waste Task Force, with his partner District Leader Nancy Tong fighting against the Southwest Brooklyn Waste Transfer Station — an effort to protect residential and recreational areas in Bensonhurst and Bath Beach.

“Our neighborhood team of Assemblyman Bill Colton, District Leader Nancy Tong and Councilman Mark Treyger and I must remain strong and keep uniting the people in the community.” said Ragusa.

State committee members, or district leaders, perform a variety of civic duties including selecting judges and helping to nominate who runs on the Democratic Party ticket. Each district has one male and one female committee leader.

The election for district leader takes place on September 13.

Clarification [June 11, 5pm]: An earlier version of this article indicated that the information was based on a press release from Colton’s office. It was sent on behalf of State Committee District Leader Charles Ragusa.

Comment policy


  1. Nice questions, someone been here for over 50 years and still need introduction? Would a better questions be. “Where is Charles Ragusa?”

  2. The article says Ms. Tong was “appointed,” when she was, in fact, elected as a District Leader. This difference, while seemingly meaningless, is important because in the Kings County Democratic Committee, if a vacancy happens in the District Leader/State Committee position, a person is appointed to fill the vacancy. By saying “appointed,” you are (I assume inadvertently) suggesting she could have been placed into the position in order to fill a racial quota when she was, in fact, elected due to her qualifications. In fact, the article to which you link as a citation states that Ms. Tong was about to be elected and not appointed to the position.

    I would suggest an edit.

  3. Why is Colton’s office putting out press releases regarding a political election/candidate? Either this article needs a correction or a New York State Office was used in support of a candidate – which is illegal.

  4. Hey Jake – if you haven’t seen Charlie Ragusa around, it’s because you must be on another planet. Charlie has been at every rally against the transfer station. He’s been at every neighborhood clean up. He’s always around the neighborhood. You can just walk right up to him and if you need help with something, he’ll stop what he’s doing, take your name and number and do whatever he can.

  5. Ok, you got me there. Technically, speaking, no one voted in the primary in the 47th in 2014 but that is because if a primary race is uncontested, the Board of Elections will not hold an election as a way to save money.

  6. Unfortunately, that is impossible to do as Charles has been MIA for the past 4 years. Can you find him? Because I can’t. And the waste transfer station rally is a total failure, it is being built. Charlie is a total failure.

  7. Uncontested me there wasn’t an election. And if there is no election, it mean the person isnt “Elected”.

  8. Being uncontested and not being elected are two different things.

    If someone receives a certification of election wouldn’t that count as being elected? Because that is the case.

  9. Looks like you know nothing about the law. You can’t just put up a fence at the waste transfer place and stop construction you have to go to court and court can take a long time. Charlie Ragusa has worked on the court case from the start. And if you can’t find him in the neighborhood, it’s because you don’t want to. We see him all the time on 86 street, Bay Parkway, other streets, talking to people.

  10. I have been living in Bensonhurst for more than 13 years. I don’t see Ragusa in our neighborhood either. I see other social activities helping around in our neighborhood. You must be on another planet with him, so you see him all the time but we can’t. I asked many of my neighbors and see if they know about him, no one knows about him! Stop telling lies here!

  11. Looks like you and your neighbors don’t go out much. If you did, you would know that Charlie Ragusa is always around and always there to help people.

  12. I find this very interesting. I’ve been here for 20 years, and have never seen or heard of Ragusa until recently. I did several Internet searches for photos of him, and the most recent I could find was from 2009, and all of them (except for two that appears on Bensonhurst Bean) are on Colton’s website. If this were a TV show or movie, I’d start thinking about Photoshop and conspiracies. The man has no third-party verifiable activity in the community.

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