Veteran Assemblyman Remains Responsive To Constituents
Whenever he receives a message from his constituents with concerns about their community, State Assem-blyman Nick Perry personally returns every call. Perry noted that even when he sees himself campaigning for Congress in the future, he would still take time to respond to those who seek his counsel.
“I make it a point to establish a strong relationship with those who support me,” Perry said. “Often I will come from church on a Sunday afternoon to my office and return someone’s call and they’ll be surprised it’s not one of my staff members on the other line. They’ll say, ‘Is this really the Assemblyman? I didn’t think you would be the one to return my call.’ But I think that it’s my duty to address the public’s needs and, even if I was elected to Congress, I would probably be the only one making those personal calls,” he added with a laugh.
Before he came to America in 1971, he had many political goals in his homeland, Jamaica. He envisioned himself as prime minister there and also considered becoming the country’s ambassador to the United Na-tions.
“I came to America intending to get my degree, since it would be very competitive in Jamaica,” he said. “I planned on returning home afterwards and pursuing politics there, but there were a lot of governmental hardships later that would have made it difficult for me to succeed the way I wanted.”
Choosing to remain in America, he invited his wife Joyce, whom he met as a teenager in Jamaica, to join him.
He later enlisted in the Army for two years and continued on inactive duty for four more. He was discharged in 1978.
“The military gave me good training – I think it was a major ingredient in qualifying myself for a job as a leader,” said the legislator. “The training rounded me out and prepared me for life.”
He became active in the communities where he lived, such as Bedford-Stuyvesant, Crown Heights and Flat-bush. After he graduated from Brook-lyn College in 1978 with a B.A. de-gree in Political Science and then earned an M.A. in Public Policy and Administration, he served in the mayoral campaigns of Percy Sutton and David Dinkins, and Jimmy Carter’s presidential campaign. The more campaigns he worked, the more in-spired he was to continue his political path.
“My mother was an evangelist and she wanted me to become a priest and eventually a pastor,” he said. “But I’ve always had a desire to be involved in public service. So I put a hold on my dream of being a leader in Jamaica.
Perry said one particular event motivated him to run for Assembly-man.When his daughter Novalie at-tended parochial school in the early 1980s, Perry noticed the rapid shift in the racial makeup of classes. Despite the growing population of black students, he said, their parents weren’t involved. While he ran for president of the school’s Home Association, it was required that he be baptized and attend church services on a weekly basis but he was unable to complete the requirements in a timely fashion.
At the same time, he was appointed to Community Board 17. He was on the executive board of the 67th Precinct Community Council and served as the director of the Flatbush East Community Development Cor-poration. His first political attempt - district leader in the 42nd A.D. - was unsuccessful, then he campaigned for the State Assembly in 1992 and won the election for the reapportioned 58th A.D., which consisted of portions of Canarsie, Brownsville and East Flat-bush.
“It became my goal to give a voice to the diverse communities,” said Perry. “I want the community to know that I will continue to make time and attend meetings and get around as much as I can. The job doesn’t come with too many thank you’s – but I serve with little complaints and ask the constituents to reach out to me and tell me what needs to be done.”