Bay Ridge Resident Solidifies His Political Legacy
New York City is one of the most progressive cities in the nation but not every corner of the metropolitan area is a die-hard bastion of Democratic politics. Southwest Brooklyn, for example, has proven to be an epicenter of right-leaning politics in the city.
Three local residents, Mike Long, who lives in Bay Ridge, and Jerry Kassar and Fran Vella-Marrone, who both hail from Dyker Heights, are the leaders of the New York State Conservative Party.
The party’s headquarters are located in Bay Ridge.
At a meeting of the party in Albany last month, members voted unanimously to re-elect Long as chairperson. Long, an ex-Marine who has been leading the party for more than 30 years, will serve a two-year term.
Kassar was elected vice chairperson. Vella-Marrone, who was recently elected by the Kings County Conservative Party to be its first female chairperson, is also the treasurer of the state party.
At the same Albany meeting, Shaun Marie Levine was elected to serve as executive vice-chairperson and Howard Lim, Jr. was picked to be the state party’s secretary.
In his acceptance speech, Long praised the party’s delegates for their service to Conservative causes. “You are the pivotal part of promoting the party. Elected officials may come and go, but you and your support keep the party vibrant, strong and able to make a difference in New York State politics,” he told the delegates.
Long’s success as the party’s leader and key spokesperson comes from his willingness to listen to party members and delegates, and bring them into the decision-making process, according to Kassar.
“Mike Long leads by example. And while some call him a ‘Party Boss,’ we know that is a role he has never played. Chairman Long listens and respects the leaders of the party,” Kassar said.
Long’s star power and his willingness to engage the media have helped solidify his political legacy, according to observers, who said he has raised the Conservative Party’s profile in the state, right behind Democrats and Republicans.
Long is the former owner of Long’s Wines and Liquors on Fifth Avenue and serves as chairperson of the Board of Directors at Holy Angels Catholic Academy, a Catholic school in Bay Ridge. Long and his wife Eileen are parishioners of Our Lady of Angels Catholic Church, the parish that is affiliated with the school.
Long, who joined the U.S. Marines in the late 1950s when he was 18, told the newspaper in a 2012 interview that his stint in the military helped form his political worldview.
“I think my service in the Marines added to my civic awareness. It certainly made me stand up for my political beliefs,” he said.
The New York State Conservative Party was founded in 1962. The party platform includes fighting for lower taxes and pushing for an easing of government regulations on business owners. Conservatives also have also taken a stand against abortion and same-sex marriage.