With all this focus on the presidential election, is it still true that all politics are local?
Robert Carroll thinks so.
A lifelong Brooklyn resident and a member of a politically active family, Carroll is running for Democratic State Committee Member of the 44th Assembly District — which covers Ditmas Park, Kensington, Windsor Terrace, Park Slope and a small section of Borough Park.
“Our local Democratic Party is the foundation of our political process,” says Carroll. “Most elected officials in New York City and especially in Brooklyn are Democrats,” he adds.
If you care about how our legal system functions, or how candidates are selected to run for public office in New York, says Carroll, then you need to follow the race for State Committee Member.
Any Brooklynite who has to deal with the legal system will “very likely be in State Supreme Court,” Carroll says.
“[We need] to select the most qualified judges who represent the diversity of Brooklyn in civil and criminal court…We need a truly independent judicial screening panel,” Carroll continues. And that, he explains, is where our State Committee Members come in.
State Committee Members also help to nominate who runs on the Democratic Party ticket, all the way up to the Governor, Carroll points out.
The Democratic State Committee Member seat for the 44th District is currently held by Jacob Gold. The Democratic Primary is on September 13.
Read our Q & A with Carroll below.
[We’ve invited Jacob Gold, who will be running for another term, to also join us for a Q & A.]
What’s the position you’re running for?
Democratic State Committee Member, sometimes called District Leader. It’s an unpaid position within the local Democratic Party, with a two-year term.
The State Committee Member serves on the Executive Committee of the Kings County (Brooklyn) Democratic Party and the Democratic State Committee. Each assembly district in Brooklyn elects a male and a female committee member.
The Kings County Democratic Party plays a large role in selecting our State Supreme Court judges, nominating candidates for governor, state comptroller, and attorney general, and in deciding how to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in the support of candidates.
Why Does This Position Matter?
State Committee Members help to elect Supreme Court judges in Brooklyn through the Kings County Democratic Party’s Judicial Convention.
The Committee Member is also a representative for Brooklyn at the State Democratic Convention, and acts as a liaison between local residents and the Democratic Party and other elected officials.
The Kings County Democratic Party has too often supported judges not on merit, but on political connections. It has spent large sums of money supporting and defending indicted politicians, while at the same time trying to block new and diverse voices.
Not surprisingly, three out of the last five chairs of the Kings County Democratic Party have been indicted or resigned in disgrace, along with many Kings County Supreme Court judges, state assemblymembers, state senators, and City Council members.
The Democratic State Committee — and the Kings County Executive Committee — need to be representative of local members of the community, and not bastions of cronyism or tools for a select few to strengthen their political power.
They should be places where the community takes part in organizing our Democratic Party, and where new voices can be fostered who can one day join our city, state, and federal legislatures.
How is that going to happen?
I’m proposing 7 simple reforms:
- Create a truly independent Judicial Screening Panel for Supreme Court judges.
- Bar contributions from judicial candidates to Committee Members and vice versa.
- Bar Committee Members from being the spouse, parent, or child of a judge or person holding public office in the state of New York.
- Term limits, so no one can serve longer than 5 consecutive terms or 10 years on the State Committee.
- Bar Committee Members from holding appointed government positions (i.e. deputy mayor, commissioner, etc.) while on the State Committee and for two years after leaving office.
- Change the bylaws of the Kings County Democratic party so that Committee Members can only hold proxies from their district at the annual County Committee meeting. This will ensure one person does not hold a majority of proxies at the meeting.
- Create a “bright line” rule that the party will not support any politician who has been indicted or convicted of a felony related to their public or party office.
Why are you the right person for the job?
I love my neighborhood and that’s why I am running for State Committee Member. I am a lifelong resident of the 44th Assembly District who attended P.S. 230 and Xaverian High School, and then went to SUNY Binghamton and New York Law School.
I’ve been endorsed by Assemblymember Jim Brennan, along with other local elected officials.
In 2012, I became the youngest president of the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats, the oldest continually operating reform/progressive Democratic club in Brooklyn.
I serve on Community Board 7, helped found the Brooklyn Reform Coalition, and am a member of the Windsor Terrace Food Coop and the Park Slope Civic Council.
During the day I am a practicing lawyer and am also the Development Director of a non-profit theatre company. Last year, a play I wrote about politics in Brooklyn — The Believers — was produced and well-received.