By Marcia Moxam Comrie
Special to the Eagle
In less than three weeks, June 25, there will be an election for Queens District Attorney. It will be the first such election in Queens in a generation and we cannot afford to get it wrong.
Richard Brown was elected Queens DA in 1991 and held the office until his death in May of this year, approximately one month before he would have retired due to failing health. Now there are seven candidates in the race to replace him.
The candidates are former judge Gregory Lasak, current City Councilman Rory Lancman, Public Defender Tiffany Caban former Civilian Complaint Review Board director Mina Malik, Jose Nieves, who has served as an assistant district attorney in Brooklyn, Betty Lugo, and of course, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz.
Most of the candidates are seasoned legal eagles but presumed front runner Katz, who has the least (or no) experience in criminal law, is the front runner and is taking a beating from the six other more experienced candidates. Katz has the advantage of being in boroughwide office so she’s well known and pretty well liked. She has the Queens County support and has raised the most money.
She is a prolific fundraiser, always has been, and now even Gov. Andrew Cuomo has endorsed her and will be hosting a fundraiser for her. Katz knows Queens and she knows its issues well.
Lancman, who chairs the Council’s Committee on the Justice System while also sitting on other committees such as Oversight and Investigation, Public Safety, Rules; and Criminal Justice, has been working on justice reform for years. It is his defining cause. He has said he advocates “for a civil justice and criminal justice system that works for all New Yorkers.”
A former member of the New York State Assembly, Lancman sat on among others, the Judiciary and Codes Committee. He had planned to run for DA even before Brown announced his retirement.
Many thought the race was going to come down to more of a three-way race among Katz, Lancman and maybe veteran judge Lasak; but then came Cabán, with her grassroots campaign, small donations and an endorsement from U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Caban is moving up and is giving the more mature candidates a run for their money.
Like Ocasio Cortez, she identifies as a Democratic Socialist and is a millennial. The other candidates must be watching this smart-as-a-whip public defender very carefully. Never underestimate the power of the youth vote, which is mostly what she would probably get. And never miscalculate the campaign savvy of this new generation of political candidates.
And while Cabán is not the only millennial in the race, she is the one with the “AOC” endorsement. Say what you will about AOC, but young people love her and this election could prove whether or not she will be the EF Hutton of politics.
What is truly important, however, is that this election is far too important to pass on. Whoever wins this seat will undoubtedly hold it for the rest of their life.
We have to get this right we all need to get out and vote in this very important election and pick the best possible candidate to be our borough’s next DA.
Marcia Moxam Comrie is a freelance writer in St. Albans.