There is arguably no one who knows Dyker Heights and Bay Ridge better than Fran Vella-Marrone. For over 35 years, she’s been a leader in the Dyker Heights community and is the longest-serving president of the Dyker Heights Civic Association. Vella-Marrone has also been a political activist, neighborhood advocate and is currently the chair of the Brooklyn Conservative Party.
Vella-Marrone is a graduate of St. Patrick Catholic Academy and Bishop Kearney High School. She received her Bachelor of Science from St. John’s University and is a senior paralegal at Connors and Sullivan Attorneys at Law.
Recently, Vella-Marrone served as deputy chief of staff and Brooklyn district director for former U.S. Rep. Dan Donovan.
Vella-Marrone is also a member of the Cathedral Club, the 68th Precinct Community Council, is a delegate to the Bay Ridge Community Council and vice-president of the Brooklyn Housing Preservation Alliance. She has received numerous awards for her community service.
Fran Vella-Marrone took the time to talk to this paper about her role as chair of the Brooklyn Conservative Party.
Spectator: Please tell me about the Brooklyn Conservative Party and the role you play.
Vella-Marrone: The New York State Conservative Party was formed in 1962. It garners the third highest vote statewide and as such we are number three in ballot positioning. The Brooklyn Conservative Party is a county organization within the NYS Conservative Party. We are a legal party organization that runs candidates for public office in Brooklyn that appear on the ballot for election. I am the chairwoman of the Brooklyn Conservative Party and as such I lead the county organization.
Spectator: Have you always been a conservative and, if so, what is it about conservatism that resonated with you?
Vella-Marrone: I have always been conservative in philosophy and have always been registered in the Conservative Party. I am pro-life. I support our law enforcement, military and veterans. I believe in the Constitution and the liberty and freedom that it gives us. However, I also believe that with this freedom there must also be individual responsibly. I believe in smaller government, low taxes and capitalism. These are conservative principles that resonate with me.
Spectator: Who are some of the people who inspired and influenced your political aspirations?
Vella-Marrone: I would have to say that some of the leaders in the Conservative Party served to influence my political career such as (former Brooklyn and New York State Conservative Party Chair) Mike Long and (former Brooklyn Conservative Party Chair and current New York State Party Chair) Jerry Kassar, as well as others throughout the years. I knew at a young age that I wanted to be involved in politics and have an impact on government. I became involved with the right organization and people that supported me and promoted my aspirations.
Spectator: Could you please explain the difference between a conservative and a Republican?
Vella-Marrone: The Conservative Party is both a political party as well an ideology and movement. We support the candidate with the most conservative platform and views. Identifying as a conservative goes beyond the party label.
Spectator: You worked on campaigns for conservatives in the past, including Dan Donovan’s. Could you please talk about that?
Vella-Marrone: I have worked on many campaigns both statewide and local in many capacities throughout my political career. I have played both supportive and lead roles. In all cases, the goal is to get the candidate or candidates elected. As a party leader, I am usually dealing with more than one campaign and I am involved in the strategy, organization and direction of the campaign, providing advice, manpower and funds. My role as a party leader is to help develop the campaigns, guide the candidates and provide support, as well as promote the party and conservative ideals.
Spectator: How closely do you work with New York State Conservative Party Chair Jerry Kassar, and what have you learned from him?
Vella-Marrone: I serve as the Treasurer of the New York State Conservative Party. As such, I play a large part in the state party. I work very closely with Chairman Jerry Kassar and have done so throughout my almost 40 years of involvement in the party. Jerry was part of the small group of people I first met in the Conservative Party. Jerry is my immediate predecessor in the Brooklyn Conservative Party and I was fortunate enough to serve as his vice chair for many years. He has a wealth of knowledge that he has imparted to me and continues to provide me with guidance and support.
Spectator: Other than Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis, the Republican and Conservative Parties are clearly lacking female voices in Brooklyn. You have had some key appointments during your decades-long career. Do you have any aspirations to run for any elected office in the future?
Vella-Marrone: It is my understanding that I am the first woman to be elected county chair of any political party in Brooklyn and I believe that I am presently the only woman serving as chair of a political party in Brooklyn.
My focus is on electing good conservatives to office whether they are female or male. Assemblywoman Malliotakis is a prime example of this. She has run for office on the Conservative Party line in each of her elections to the NY State Assembly and I wholeheartedly support her candidacy for Congress. I encourage more conservative-oriented women to run for office and I will be happy to support them in their efforts.
As for my aspirations, I never say never. If the right opportunity should present itself and the people will have me, I would be honored to serve my community in elected office.