Robert Perkins Could Become First African-American Male District Leader on Staten Island

Robert Perkins, New Brighton, is a member of the Staten Island North Shore disparity group. (Staten Island Advance/Jan Somma-Hammel)

Minister Robert Perkins has been a community leader for nearly 30 years. Now he is ready to take a seat at the political table: he is running for District Leader of the 61st Assembly District.

Minister Perkins is in a contest against incumbent, Daniel Lavelle, who has held the position since 2013.

In his press release announcing his candidacy, Perkins mentioned that he is the first African-American male District Leader candidate.

You may be thinking, “What is a District Leader?” District Leader is an unpaid elected position – a volunteer with a seat at the table. Each Assembly District (AD) has at least one District Leader who serves as a liaison between the community and the elected officials in their political party. Their duties include sitting on the Executive Committee of the County Democratic Committee, hiring poll workers, promoting voter turnout, organizing meetings and events to amplify constituents’ voices, and more.


In 2001, Perkins opened a barbershop and clothing store business, Perks Place 2, in West Brighton. Over the years, his West Brighton barbershop, New Beginnings, employed local community members including youth through the city’s Summer Youth Employment Program and individuals reentering society. It also served as a food pantry, shelter, and a classroom for lessons about cutting hair and earning employment.

Last year, Perkins received the Community Service Award at the Celebrating Unsung Community Leaders Making a Difference event hosted at I.S. 49 and was appointed to the Advance/’s steering committee for its initiative, The Disparity Project.

He is currently the Outreach Coordinator for Fatherhood Matters, Regional Manager of The Edge Foundation, and a Community School Director at P.S. 78. Perkins is also a husband and a father.

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SOURCE:, Giavanni Alves