Read his lips — he’s not a reformer.
After months of railing against the borough’s Democratic Party establishment, Kevin Peter Carroll’s first act as Bay Ridge’s newly elected Democratic district leader was to cast his ballot for party boss Vito Lopez last week.
“I guess actions speak louder than words,” said Chris Owens, himself a newly elected district leader who sought to unseat Lopez as county chairman, but fell in a 47–3 landslide.
He probably thought he had an ally in the 24-year-old Carroll, who defeated Bay Ridge’s longtime Democratic District Leader Ralph Perfetto on a platform of anti-Lopez reform.
But besides himself, Owens only received votes from Brownstone Brooklyn District Leader Jo Anne Simon and Assemblywoman Inez Barron, an East New York district leader and wife of firebrand Councilman Charles Barron (D–Canarsie).
Carroll’s vote for Lopez came as a rebuke of the reform movement of which he seemed to be at the vanguard.
He began his career in public life as the founding member and president of Brooklyn Democrats for Change. When he ran for district leader, his website was filled with demands for reform.
“There is a crisis of confidence in the leadership of our party and we must organize so that the Democratic Party will stand again for those values that brought us to it,” he wrote. “Democratic public officials must behave as Democrats or be removed if they are only interested in special interests and their own re-elections.”
During a webcast debate at our CNG offices, Carroll described himself as the “independent candidate” and lambasted Perfetto for being Lopez’s horse in the race.
“Vito has endorsed Ralph Perfetto,” Carroll said. “He’s the party candidate and I’m the independent reform candidate. I’m not happy with the direction county is going. I believe in reforms and the county organization needs to be reformed.”
Carroll beat Perfetto with 62 percent of the vote. And in the wake of his subsequent vote for Lopez, Perfetto is now crowing that he was actually the reformer.
“Maybe that’s why everyone wanted me out,” he joked. “I was too much of an upstart for them.”
Carroll claims that he’s still an independent, even if he thinks Lopez is OK.
“Reform is not about getting rid of one particular person,” Carroll said, claiming that he not only voted for Lopez but also for all the internal party reforms raised at the meeting. But he didn’t approve of Lopez’s push to add 11 unelected loyalists to the party leadership, he said.
“Reform is about process and I will work with anyone to reform the process,” he said, adding that he did not vote for Owens because he “had only been in office for a week.”
Lopez also promised to devote party resources to right-of-center Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst, where Democrat incumbents fight off Republican challengers.
“Vito never asked me to vote for him — we never had that conversation,” Carroll said. “But he’s going to make sure that we come together and get our Democratic candidates elected. Vito’s predecessor [convicted Assemblyman Clarence Norman] couldn’t find south Brooklyn on a map.”