Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, 53, yesterday announced she is running for Queens District Attorney this November.
Katz made the announcemnt at Macdonald Park in Forest Hills as she held hands with her two sons and and dozens of supporters flanked her.
“I am running for District Attorney, and all that it represents, because I know that many people don’t always feel protected by the criminal justice system. That is by virtue of their race, their economic needs, their ethnicity, their immigration status, their gender identity, or a host of other reasons that have nothing to do with the people they are,” said Katz. “We know far too many studies and newspaper disparities that arrest and sentencing are not fair and is not ethical.”
Katz said she plans to bring an aggressive new agenda to the DA’s office with a new community-centered approach to the criminal justice system.
This includes focussing her campaign on making the DA a partner for justice; working for meaningful arrest, bail and sentencing reforms; ‘hard on hate’ vigorous enforcement of hate crime laws; vigorous prosecution of rape, sexual assault and domestic and gender-based violence; ending the prosecution of low-level marijuana arrests; treating gun violence as a public health issue; fighting for worksite accountability and worker protections; and protecting elders from abuse.
“Our nation as a whole is re-normalizing the dangerous marginalization of people of color, of immigrants, of the poor. Yet there are powerful movements underway to combat that regression, and my agenda is part of a recommitment to inclusion, equity, fair treatment and justice,” she said.
Born and raised in Queens, Katz garduated Summa Cum Laude with honors from the University of Massachusetts, attended St. John’s School of Law and authored for the Legal Journal. Upon earning her law degree, Katz interned for then-Judge (and future US Attorney General) Michael Mukasey for the Southern District of NY and interned with the US Attorney’s office in the Southern District of NY. She later served as an adjunct professor of constitutional law at Queens College.
Katz life in public office began when she was elected to the state assembly in 1995, and where she served untill 1909. During her tenure in this legislative chamber she authored and passed several pieces of legislation, including the first bill to extend the Statute of Limitations for sexual abuse of a child.
Katz then became Director of Community Boards for the Office of the Queens Borough President from 1999 to 2002, before winning a seat on the City Council and getting elected as borough president in 2013.
As Queens Borough President, Katz is partnering with communities to partake in the new law allowing individuals with two misdemeanors or a non-violent felony and misdemeanor that were over ten years ago to seal their convictions, and she worked with the District Attorney on warrant forgiveness to promote second chances.
The other announced candidates running for the seat are City Councilman Rory Lancman and former ADA and Supreme Court Judge Greg Lasak.
Current DA Richard K. Brown, 86, a 27-year incumbent, is playing it close to the vest in his running for re-election.
“My present term does not expire until December 2019 and I will make no decision about the future until sometime next year,” he said in an emailed statement.