Gonzalez and Gentile pick up big endorsements in important district attorney race
The position of district attorney can often be an afterthought for voters who primarily pay attention to national and mayoral elections, but it is the biggest race happening in Brooklyn right now and it is perhaps the most important.
Charles J. Hynes held the position of DA in Kings County from 1990 until he lost to Ken Thompson in 2013. Following Thompson’s death last October, Eric Gonzalez has served as acting DA, but he is running against five other candidates — Anne Swern, Councilmember Vincent Gentile, Ama Dwimoh, Marc Fliedner and Patricia Gatling — which means Brooklyn could see its fourth DA in as many years.
In Brooklyn, the DA is in charge of approximately 1,200 lawyers and is the primary person who sets the policies of what exactly is legal and illegal in regard to criminal law. Not only does that person set policy in the office, but they are also in charge of new hires, which goes a long way in setting the environment.
Beyond what happens in the office, the DA has and will have a large effect on the 2.6 million Brooklynites by determining which cases to prosecute, what kind of bail is set, what charges to seek and they have a lot of discretion in what the sentence is going to be.
Gonzalez is the favorite to win the position right now, with more than $1.6 million raised and numerous major endorsements. He picked up even more momentum on Wednesday when he picked up the endorsements of Gloria Steinem and the National Organization for Women-New York City (NOW-NY).
It was a bit of a surprise that Gonzalez got the endorsement considering Swern is a member of NOW and had an impressive performance during a recent DA forum hosted by NOW in Brooklyn earlier this month. Sonia Ossorio, president of NOW-NY, explained that she thought Brooklyn already had the right person in charge.
“He was clearly the most qualified and experienced, and more importantly what he has done in the 10 months that he has been in charge of the Brooklyn DA’s Office have been outstanding,” Ossorio said. She continued, “In our estimation, we already have somebody who is doing the job and doing it as well as we would expect in making sure that crimes against women are elevated. We don’t see that happening everywhere in this country or even in NYC.”
Ossorio was joined by U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez, Public Advocate Letitia James and state Assemblymembers Latrice Walker and Helene E. Weinstein during a press conference to show that Gonzalez had the support of some of the biggest female leaders in Brooklyn.
“Eric has already proven to be an ally to women,” said James. “I learned recently that six out of 10 attorneys on the executive level [in the DA’s Office] are women and also three out of seven that head the trial bureaus are women and that is a demonstration of his support for the power of women and the importance of women.”
Shortly after Gonzalez secured their endorsement, Gentile held a press conference to announce that he has the backing of four major unions which represent more than 30,000 workers — the Uniformed Sanitationmen’s Association, Communications Workers-America 1109, International Union of Operating Engineers Local 94 (IUOE Local 94) and Law Enforcement Security & Police Benevolent Association.
“Vincent has always been a friend of Labor and the people of Brooklyn for many years,” said Ray Macco, policial director of IUOE Local 94. “Vincent continues to be involved as an active member of the city council and in his community in Brooklyn. We have a unique opportunity to elect someone that understands our interests and the interests of all working people. As district attorney, we believe Vincent Gentile will take a different, more thoughtful, approach to the DA’s Office and empower it to become a vehicle of hope.”
Since all of the candidates in the race are running as Democrats, the election will be decided during the Sept. 12 primary.
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