Gov. Cuomo mulls naming immediate replacement for late Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson
Governor could leave Acting DA Eric Gonzalez in the position until next year’s election
In the wake of the sudden death of Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has a decision to make about the short-term future of the office’s leadership.
Just five days after announcing he had been diagnosed with cancer, Thompson, 50, died Sunday at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital.
In making his announcement, Thompson, who was Brooklyn’s first black District Attorney, said Chief Assistant DA Eric Gonzalez would serve as acting district attorney if he were to take any absences for treatment and recovery.
Thompson would have been up for reelection in November 2017. Cuomo has the authority to name an interim DA to serve out the remainder of the late DA’s term, and he also has the option to let Gonzalez stay at the helm of the office until then.
A DNAinfo report quoted Cuomo spokeswoman Dani Lever as saying “options are being reviewed.”
Among those options, the report said, could be Public Advocate Letitia James, the first black woman elected to citywide office in New York City, who is from Brooklyn and has name recognition.
However, in a statement, James said it was too soon after Thompson’s passing to discuss such a possibility.
“This is a time … to celebrate the great life of Ken Thompson,” James said in her statement. “Any political discussions must take a back seat as we continue this mourning process.”
Other possible candidates, according to the DNAinfo report, are former First Assistant Brooklyn DA Anne Swern and former Assistant Brooklyn DA Marc Fliedner.
If Cuomo did decide to let Gonzalez — Brooklyn’s first Latino Chief Assistant DA — remain as acting DA until the 2017 election, it wouldn’t be an unprecedented move.
After Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice was elected to Congress in 2014, the governor left her deputy, Madeline Singas, in the office until a 2016 election, which Singas won.
In 2015, Cuomo chose not to fill the Staten Island DA’s post, which was vacated when DA Dan Donovan successfully ran for Congress. Michael McMahon, a Democrat, won the DA seat when he defeated Republican Joan Illuzzi in a November election.
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