Kensington lawyer Robert “Bobby” Carroll will be the neighborhood’s first fresh face in the Assembly in 31 years when he takes over the 44th Assembly District seat from longtime local Assemblyman Jim Brennan in January. We checked in with the 30-year-old incoming pol about his plans for his first term — including when he’ll finally learn to drive.
Colin Mixson: What’s your game plan for this upcoming legislative session?
Robert Carroll: There is a lot the state is going to need to do, especially with what happened earlier this month with Donald Trump winning the presidency. The state is going to have to make sure that we’re picking up the slack where the federal government is not providing funding for Planned Parenthood or coming after the residents of the state of New York. We need to make sure we’re protecting folks, either based on the immigration status, or their being targeted because of their ethnic or religious identity.
Moreover, we need to make sure we fully fund our infrastructure, especially our MTA capital budget and get full funding for public schools.
I practice election law during the day and our state legislation and the way we run our elections need to be reformed, and I hope I’ll be able to serve on the election law committee so we can have more open and transparent elections as well as bring necessary ethics reform to Albany.
CM: Are you going to quit your job as a lawyer?
RC: My last day I hope to be Dec. 31 or Jan. 1 — we’re in the process of hiring an associate, it may take a few more weeks possibly, but I’ll be fully untangled form the firm either the first week of January or very shortly after that.
CM: Do you see yourself as a career politician? Do have aspirations beyond the Assembly?
RC: I’ve been involved in local politics and government and civic organizations my entire life. It’s something I have a great passion for. I’d like to work in that field, whether that means for the next 10 or 20 years, or the next five; I don’t know what’s going to happen. If someone who’s working for some great NGO or non-profit or some other opportunity comes around, but if you asked me five years ago if I thought I was going to be in state Assembly Jan. 3 2017, I would say no. I hope to be successful, I hope to be reelected, but let me finish my first term and then I’ll start thinking about what I’m going to do in the future.
CM: You advocate for the decriminalization of low-level drugs. Would you be willing to push the issue further towards legalization?
RC: I’m aware of the medical marijuana program that’s been put into place in the last two years; I don’t know what the results of that are and how the state is monitoring that. If that goes well, we should be looking at what’s on in Colorado, California, and all these states that have legalized recreational marijuana and see how that is going and make smart practical steps to seriously consider some type of legalization.
But we shouldn’t kid ourselves — there are social ills that go along with marijuana just like alcohol and tobacco, and we should make sure we think about all these things and make sure that we learn from any of the issues these other states have faced. It’s very easy to say we should legalize something, before thinking about all the steps and concerns that go into it.
CM: When we last spoke after you won the primary, you still didn’t have a driver’s license. How’s that going?
RC: I have not gotten my driver’s license yet. I have not taken a class — I’ve been very busy. I’m taking the train up when I have to go to Albany. There’s no way I’m going to have a drivers license by Jan. 3.