Nov. 6, 2019 By Allie Griffin
Melinda Katz sailed to victory in the Queens District Attorney race last night, easily beating the Republican candidate Joe Murray.
Katz, who has been the Queens Borough President since 2014, garnered nearly 75 percent of the votes — 138,000 to Murray’s 45,000, according to the unofficial results released by the Board of Elections. She will be the first woman to be Queens District Attorney when she is sworn in in January.
“I’m proud to be the District Attorney-elect for Queens,” Katz said. “The people of our borough deserve to feel safe and to know that their justice system is working for everyone.”
Katz said she will end cash bail, protect workers from unsafe work sites, ensure immigrants rights are protected and keep ICE agents away from the courthouses.
She will take over from Acting District Attorney John M. Ryan who has been in charge since Richard A. Brown died in May earlier this year.
Brown, known for his traditional law-and-order policies, held the role since 1991 and the election was seen as a turning point for candidates such as Katz seeking criminal justice reform.
Katz’s smooth victory last night, however, painted a stark contrast from the battle she faced against Tiffany Cabán, a progressive candidate backed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, in the June 25th Democratic primary. It took about six weeks, a manual recount and a court hearing before Katz was officially declared the winner.
Cabán had originally declared victory the night of the primary with a lead of more than 1,100 votes, but when affidavit and absentee ballots were counted, Katz jumped ahead by a mere 16 votes. The slim margin called for a weeks-long manual recount in which more than 90,000 ballots were sorted and recounted. At its completion, Katz came out as the winner by a 60 vote difference.
The BOE certified the recount results on July 29 and declared Katz winner. Cabán’s campaign launched a court battle to challenge dozens of ballots it said were wrongly invalidated. The judge’s decision only dropped Katz’s lead by 5 votes, prompting Cabán to concede in August.
This time, Katz celebrated her win at a victory party in Forest Hills the night of the election, last night.
Katz will step down as borough president in January and a special election for that job will take place within 45 days.
Several candidates have announced that they want the job, such as Council Members Costa Constantinides, Jimmy Van Bramer and Donovan Richards. Former Council Member Elizabeth Crowley and State Assemblywoman Alicia Hyndman are also vying for the position.
Voters last night also approved five new proposals that were on the ballot including ranked choice voting in primary and special elections; raising the number of members in the Civilian Complaint Review Board; increasing the minimum time from one to two years that elected and senior city officials are prohibited from serving as lobbyists following their departure from office; creating a “rainy day fund” for New York City’s government; and amending the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) to provide more notification of development plans to borough presidents and community boards.
Finally, Democrat Jumaane Williams beat out his Republican and Libertarian contenders to keep his seat as the city’s Public Advocate.
Williams took in nearly 78 percent of the vote with 563,138 ballots, while Republican Joseph Borelli took in about 20 percent with 144,429 ballots and Libertarian Devin Balkind took in just 2 percent with 14,524 ballots.
Congrats to Katz! Good luck.