Katz joins Lancman, Lasak in DA race
Dec 05, 2018 | 4004 views | 0 0 comments | 457 457 recommendations | email to a friend | print
And then there were three.

Borough President Melinda Katz confirmed the rumors and announced this week that she is throwing her hat in the ring to replace Richard Brown as Queens District Attorney.

She joins Councilman Rory Lancman and retired Queens Supreme Court Justice Gregory Lasak in the race.

Of the three, Lasak is the only one with considerable experience in the legal and prosecution worlds, although all three hold law degrees and Lancman has some experience as a trial lawyer.

Lasak began his career at the age of 24 when he became an assistant district attorney in the same office he now is looking to head.

Over the next 25 years, he served as chief of the Homicide Bureau and executive assistant of the Major Crime Division before becoming a judge.

Meanwhile, Katz is in her second term as borough president. She served in the state Assembly from 1994 to 1999 and in the City Council from 2002 to 2009.

Lancman was elected to the Assembly in 2006, and served there until running for City Council in 2013. When he began his career in politics he didn't have a beard, now he does. Just worth noting.

Undeniably, Lasak has the most experience of the three candidates as it pertains to the day-to-day workings of the office. Which is a positive if you are happy with the way the Queens District Attorney's Office is currently being run.

Not that Lasak would simply keep the status quo or run the office exactly the same way Brown has for decades. In fact, in an interview with this paper he said that he would like to change the culture of the office and make it more reflective of the borough's diversity.

That said, both Katz and Lancman will likely play up their outsider status and highlight the fresh approach that a new set of eyes will bring to the post.

Lancman began laying the groundwork for that before he even announced that he was running for the office when he got out in front of the issue of closing Rikers Island (he's for it).

In fact, he participated in a tension-filled debate with James Quinn, a senior executive assistant district attorney and one of Brown's top lieutenants, about the issue. Lancman will surely make it a top talking point on the campaign trail.

In her prepared remarks at her announcement, Katz actually used the phrase “fresh approach” and talked about a new “era of justice” for Queens. She released a list of over 300 people who were supporting her campaign, including a number of the borough's elected officials, some of which were on hand for her announcement.

One of the more interesting things to watch during the race is how Lasak handles himself on the campaign trail against two people who are used to running for office. It will likely be new territory for him.

It's a weird aspect of the DA's office that the person in the post needs to theoretically be an unbiased arbiter of justice holding up the rule of law, but to get the post in the first place, it comes down to the same politicking and tactics that you would need to employ to run for any other elected position.

Sometimes getting elected is always about qualifications, but popularity.

If Lasak's reaction to Katz's announcement is any indication, he's ready for the challenge.

“I welcome Borough President Katz to the growing field of career politicians running for District Attorney,” he said. “As the only non-politician in this race, I look forward to putting my decades-long record of fighting crime and freeing the innocent up against anyone else's."
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