Queens District Attorney Richard Brown died on May 3 after almost three decades office. In the immediate aftermath, more than a half dozen people announced their candidacy. The special election for Queens District Attorney is less than a month away (June 25). Some of the candidates spoke to the AmNews about their platform.

With millions of dollars being poured into this race, the candidates (outwardly) all desire to do similar things in office. Two things that all of the candidates have in common? The desire to reform the criminal justice system and the recognition of racial bias in said system.

New York City Council Rory Lancman, whose been endorsed by the likes of RWDSU, Bricklayers & Allied Craftworkers Local Union #1 and Gwen Carr (the mother of Eric Garner), told the AmNews that he’s running because the criminal justice system is racist and discriminates against poor people, working people, women and immigrants. He also said that the system doesn’t protect homeowners and tenants enough.

“That’s why in the City Council, where I chair the committee that oversees the city’s 5 District Attorneys, through the laws that I’ve passed, the funding that I have appropriated, and the hearings that I’ve held, I have directly attacked the over policing and mass incarceration of communities of color; the evils of cash bail; the criminalization of mental illness, addiction, and poverty; the targeting of immigrants; police misconduct; wrongful convictions; and the abuse of women,” said Lancman. “For nearly two decades before I entered public office, I represented women who were sexually harassed, people who were discriminated against on the job because of their race, working people who were cheated out of their wages, and those who were injured and sometimes killed on the job because their employer cut corners on safety.”

Queens Borough President, and one of the front runners in the race, Melinda Katz told the AmNews that her borough needs to be part of the change in the criminal justice system. She also said she’d be the only candidate to walk in with relationships with community leaders around the borough and diversify the office staff to make it look more like Queens.

“We need to end mass incarceration, get rid of cash bail, and stop marijuana arrests but that’s just the beginning,” said Katz. “We can stop gun violence by funding Cure Violence programs. We need to provide more treatment and alternatives to incarceration instead of jail, and then help people get back on track after they’ve been in jail by providing re-entry services and sealing old convictions. To make this happen, we need a DA who knows how to run a boroughwide office, and I’m the only candidate with experience managing a multimillion dollar budget and a large staff that serves all of Queens.”

Katz’s been endorsed by unions like 32BJ SEIU, CWA Local 1180 and the Uniformed Firefighters Association of Greater New York, organizations like the National Organization for Women – NYC and Brooklyn-Queens and the Queens County Democratic Party and elected officials like Rep. Greg Meeks and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr.

While all of the candidates have outlined similar platforms, Tiffany Cabán’s emerged as the progressive candidate of choice for some. The public defender’s received endorsements from New York State Senator Jessica Ramos, the Working Families Party and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Cabán’s running on a platform of “people-powered justice.”

“For decades, the Queens DA threw people of color in jail for minor crimes — while letting the corrupt Queens machine, wealthy real estate developers, and other predatory actors off easy,” said Cabán. “I am an independent progressive fighting for justice, not jails. As a public defender, I have represented thousands of black and brown New Yorkers trapped in our city’s racist criminal justice system — and have seen, firsthand, how cops and courts unfairly punish working people and people of color. If elected on June 25th, I will work to decriminalize poverty, end mass incarceration, and hold the corrupt Queens machine accountable. As District Attorney, I will fight for working families and people of color.”

One of the other front runners in the face is Harvard professor and former prosecutor Mina Malik. Malik grew up as an immigrant in Corona/Elmhurst with parents who were union workers. She believes that accountability stands alongside justice and the system must be fair to all.

Malik told the AmNews that her two-plus decades of experience in the criminal justice system make her the candidate to make substantial criminal justice reform.

“I have worked for both the defense and the prosecution, and I have enacted reform at the highest levels in three government agencies: as Special Counsel in the Brooklyn DA’s Office to District Attorney Ken Thompson; Executive Director of the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board; and Deputy to the first Haitian American Attorney General in the District of Columbia, Karl Racine,” said Malik. “I bring to this position the lived experience as a woman, an immigrant, a person of color and the mother of two black sons who has seen the other side of law enforcement in Queens through that lens. My husband, Derek Sells who is a civil rights attorney and Chair of the Cochran Firm, and I have had to have those tough conversations with our children about encountering the police.

Other candidates – army veteran and former state Attorney General office staffer Jose Nieves, former state Supreme Court judge and long-time prosecutor Gregory Lasak and former Nassau County assistant district attorney Betty Lugo – were asked to comment but attempts were unsuccessful.