A former long-time Bay Ridge District Leader is poised to take back his old seat next month in a likely uncontested election after almost a decade away from playing politics.
Ralph Perfetto served in the unpaid position for 18 years until well-connected political newcomer Kevin Peter Carroll bested him in a notorious election in 2010.
The octogenarian politico — who was convicted in 2011 of impersonating a lawyer and sentenced to 70 hours of community service — is looking forward to getting back into politics and working with Brooklyn Democrats, saying his main goals are to foster a more inclusive party and help his fellow True Blues flip Republican-controlled seats in the borough.
“It’s just like getting back in the saddle, getting on a bike,” said Perfetto. “We have an important election, a congressional election and also a primary for state Senate. I’m excited about it, I want to bring everybody together.”
Perfetto’s passion for politics hasn’t changed in the eight years he’s taken a back seat to Carroll, but other things around the district have, he said. Back when he was the district leader, Bay Ridge was represented by Democrats Rep. Michael McMahon and Assemblywoman Janele Hyer-Spencer — two seats that have since been taken by Republicans: Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis and Rep. Dan Donovan, both of whom are facing Democratic challengers this fall.
Perfetto says he’s also noticed the trend of more young people getting involved in Democratic politics, but he insists that he’s still the right man for the job, and hasn’t lost his touch.
“I’m a workaholic, have been blessed with good health and energy, sometimes in abundance,” said Perfetto, who has also taken up acting as a side gig to his job as a private investigator. “I’m encouraged seeing some young people become active, that’s important. I’m hoping to mix my experience with their ideas and coming together on a lot of issues.”
Brooklyn’s Democratic Party boss Frank Seddio said this year’s contentious elections are no match for another political newcomer, and that the district needed a seasoned leader, according to Perfetto, who said Seddio called him up and asked him to come back on board in June after Carroll announced in April that he would not run for re-election following a mysterious months-long vacation.
And Perfetto said he dialed up the neighborhood’s female district leader of roughly 15 years, Joanne Seminara, and asked if she would want to work with him again.
“Her answer was, ‘thank god,’ ” said Perfetto.
The political pair hit the ground running earlier this summer and started petitioning to get on the ballot together for the Sept. 13 primary. They have already collected about 1,000 signatures, according to Perfetto, who said he’s racked up more than 500 for himself.
Perfetto said some in the neighborhood still believe there’s bad blood between him and Carroll, but he insists that’s far from the truth, and that he’d love the opportunity to meet and chat with members of his predecessor’s club, Brooklyn Democrats for Change.
“I have no animosity towards Kevin — some people think there’s animosity — none whatsoever,” he said. “I would love to be invited to Kevin’s club, and let them hear me. I’d like to unite all Dems in Bay Ridge.”
And Seminara said she’s equally as excited to get her old partner back.
“He has a lot of experience. It’s helpful to have someone with experience on the job, in terms of all the nuts and bolts and mechanics that need to get done, like appointing poll workers,” she said.