By Jonathan Sperling
Queens Borough President Melinda Katz pledged to crack down on gun offenses and hate crimes on Wednesday, following her victory in the grueling primary race and six-week-long legal battle for the Democratic nomination for Queens district attorney. Katz’s top opponent, public defender Tiffany Cabán, conceded the night before.
At a quiet press conference outside of Queens Borough Hall in Kew Gardens, Katz told members of the media that the battle against Cabán “has been the longest election day ever.” She said she looked forward to the general election in November.
“It’s time for everyone to come together, it’s time for the Democratic party to work together,” Katz said.
“Queens has been left behind when it comes to reform in the criminal justice system,” she added.
Katz and Cabán had been locked in a battle of the ballots since June 25, when initial results in the race for Democratic nominee pointed to Cabán, a 32-year-old public defender, as the victor by about 1,100 votes. Katz overcame that deficit after absentee and affidavit ballots were tallied July 3. She led by 16 votes, prompting a full manual recount of the roughly 91,000 ballots cast.
The recount resulted in a 60-vote lead for Katz. After a court challenge Tuesday, Katz retained her lead, though it had been diminished to 55 votes.
At the press conference, Katz reiterated her commitment to ending cash bail in Queens and said she would introduce more “fairness and equity” into the borough’s justice system.
“Right now, there is a growing sense and a growing reality that this fairness and equity is not happening here in Queens County. We need to make sure that it does,” Katz said.
In the wake of three mass shootings nationwide in less than a month, Katz promised to come down hard on anyone who sells guns in Queens.
“You bring guns into our borough, you want to sell guns to our children? Queens is closed for business. We will prosecute and we will make sure that there are no availability of those guns on the street,” she said.
Katz also said she would prosecute hate crimes “to the fullest extent of the law.”
“This is a borough that is 190 countries, that is 200 languages. We will not tolerate homophobia. We will not tolerate xenophobia. We will not tolerate anti-semitism,” she said.
Katz fielded a range of questions and told reporters she thought NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo should be fired in accordance with a recommendation by an administrative judge last week.
When asked what lessons she and the Queens Democratic Party had learned from her slim margin of victory, Katz answered quickly.
“The one message I would bring to every single person in the city of New York, across the country, is every single vote counts,” she said.