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The right choice for Brooklyn DA

Letitia James | 10/24/2013, 5:45 p.m.
Tish James

Earlier this year, I supported the re-election of Brooklyn District Attorney Charles “Joe” Hynes, who I have known for many years. On Sept. 10, the voters of Brooklyn spoke loud and clear; they decided that it was time for change, and by a decisive margin, they elected Ken Thompson to be the Democratic nominee. Thompson’s outstanding qualifications as an attorney, his compelling personal story and his campaign message of bringing a fresh approach to the job resonated with voters across the borough.

After the primary, Hynes promised the people of Brooklyn that they would begin a smooth transition, and although his name was on the ballot as the Republican candidate, he vowed to exit in a “classy way,” saying he would respect the will of the Democratic voters and not run an active campaign in November. Unfortunately, that’s not what happened. Shortly after stating those words, Hynes reversed himself, and to the great dismay and disappointment of many Democrats—including those who had supported him, like myself—he announced that he would indeed run on the Republican and Conservative lines. 

Not just as Democrats, but as New Yorkers, we are united by common values of fairness, justice and compassion for working people. Hynes is now turning his back on those values and standing shoulder to shoulder with some of the most reactionary forces in our state: opponents of marriage equality, a woman’s right to choose, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s common sense gun control laws and even the minimum wage.

The people of Brooklyn are not only looking for a tough and experienced prosecutor, but also one who shares their values. That is why I am proud to support Ken Thompson as the best choice, and only progressive choice, for Brooklyn district attorney in November. 

Thompson has stood up for justice his entire career. The son of one of the first women to patrol our streets as an officer for the NYPD, Thompson learned early on the values of public service and protecting others. From his role as a federal prosecutor convicting Abner Louima’s attackers to the part he played convincing the U.S. Justice Department to reopen the 1955 murder of Emmett Till, Thompson has shown he understands that government can both protect the civil rights of residents while also making sure their communities are kept safe.

As a lawyer in private practice, Thompson has stood up for victims of sexual assault, domestic violence and employment discrimination to ensure that their voices were not drowned out by the wealth or political connections of their abusers. He understands that we need to think creatively to get guns off our streets, because he’s done it.

It’s sad that Hynes, who has had such a long career in public service, is so determined to cling to power that he has agreed to undermine the progressive values of the people of Brooklyn and the party that supported him throughout his tenure.

But we can send a strong message about keeping one’s word and supporting our beliefs. Join me in bringing change to the criminal justice system by voting for Ken Thompson on Nov. 5. He represents the new leadership and change we need and the values we respect.