By Carlotta Mohamed
Although his candidacy has not yet been declared, City Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Hillcrest) is eying a run for Queens district attorney — a title that has been held by 86-year-old Richard Brown since 1991.
Lancman, who represents Fresh Meadows, Jamaica and parts of eastern Queens, said his platform in the potential race for DA would be reshaping the criminal justice system.
“We need significant criminal justice reform here in New York City, and that includes Queens,” said Lancman, who is the chairman of the City Council’s Justice System Committee, which has jurisdiction over the city’s five DA offices, the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor and the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice.
Lancman said that as of July 16, he has more than $793,000 combined from three separate campaign finance funds in his coffers.
According to the New York City Finance Board of Campaign Elections, Lancman has $273,768 from the state committee; $354,055 remaining from his 2017 re-election campaign fund; and $165,741 donated from friends.
The lawmaker has been an advocate of pushing for cash bail reform, decriminalizing low-level offenses like smoking marijuana in public, turnstile jumping, and protecting workers’ safety and wages.
According to Lancman, he considers Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner a model, saying that Krasner has had the courage to reorient his office’s priorities away from unimportant matters that damage people’s lives needlessly, for the “important stuff that people expect the DA’s office to protect them from.”
“We should not be arresting or prosecuting anyone for low-level marijuana possession or arresting and prosecuting anyone criminally for fare evasion,” said Lancman. “On the other end, we do not devote nearly enough time or resources to defending a woman’s right to choose, combating and prosecuting sexual assault or protecting workers who have their wages stolen by not being paid the minimum wage or overtime that they work.”
Lancman said the DA is in the best position to implement criminal justice reform, even more so than the police department, mayor or governor, because it’s the DA who determines what gets prosecuted.
Referring to Brown, Lancman said, “He’s had a long and distinguished career.”
Brown, who has health issues, told amNewYork that “nobody is pressing him,” saying that any decision to retire or remain in the office is his alone. He plans to serve the remaining final two years of his term and mentioned running yet again in 2020.
Reach reporter Carlotta Mohamed by e-mail at cmoha