Op-Ed: Why I’m voting for Melinda Katz

Melinda Katz
City Councilman Shekar Krishnan
File photo by Paul Frangipane

Melinda Katz and I haven’t always seen eye to eye. In the contentious 2019 Democratic primary election for Queens District Attorney, I publicly supported Tiffany Cabán, the public defender candidate, over Katz, then the borough president. After Katz won and took office, I opposed her prosecution of a Guyanese immigrant who was wrongfully jailed as a young teenager on a coerced confession.

But today, as Melinda Katz runs for re-election, there is no doubt that she is my choice — and undoubtedly the best choice in this election – for Queens district attorney.

During her tenure as district attorney, I have seen Katz stand up to hate against vulnerable communities. One of her first acts in office was to launch a new Hate Crimes Bureau to vigorously prosecute crimes committed on the basis of bias or prejudice. So when a queer Black artist was stabbed to death on a subway in 2020, Katz did not hesitate to charge the assailant with an anti-gay hate crime. When a Filipina constituent of mine was beaten in the street in broad daylight earlier this year, Katz swiftly brought anti-Asian hate crime charges against the attackers.

And as my community has faced more than 20 instances of harassment by anti-drag, far-right bigots, including an appearance by the Proud Boys in Jackson Heights, Katz is working closely with my office to actively investigate these attacks on our LGBTQ+ neighbors. As borough president, she supported Drag Story Hour and as district attorney, she is now defending it. As I have made clear, law enforcement must take the threats of white supremacy and far-right hate against our LGBTQ+ neighbors much more seriously, and District Attorney Katz is doing so.

Time and again, for Asian or Black New Yorkers, for Jewish or Muslim New Yorkers, for immigrants or LGBTQ+ neighbors – for all of us – Melinda Katz has fought back against the most violent hate.

Beyond fighting bigotry, Katz has also been a longtime champion for women’s rights, including access to abortion. As borough president, she funded construction of Planned Parenthood’s first ever Queens location. As district attorney, she has spoken passionately against the overturning of Roe v. Wade, even signing a commitment to not criminalize those who seek or provide abortion, alongside 83 other prosecutors across the nation.

And if Melinda Katz’ own record isn’t enough to earn your vote in the June primary and November general elections, just take a look at the alternatives.

First, there’s George Grasso, a conservative running in the Democratic primary. Grasso has visited multiple Queens Republican Clubs in recent months, pitching himself to the same organizations that have featured George Santos, Marjorie Taylor-Greene, and Donald Trump, Jr. These clubs have welcomed to their events Jan. 6 insurrectionists, Proud Boys and the same anti-drag bigots that harass our community. Unsurprisingly, Grasso also has the financial backing of the same people who donated to Donald Trump and hasn’t even ruled out running as a Republican in November. The thought of a Trumpist as district attorney for the World’s Borough is terrifying.

Then there’s Devian Daniels, the newest cog in the corrupt political machine of Hiram Monserrate, the former legislator convicted of federal corruption charges for stealing public money and for assault against a girlfriend. Anyone working with Hiram is bad news for Queens.

Our borough, home to the most diverse communities in the world, deserves a district attorney who will stand up for all of us and who will fight hate against any of us. At a time when women’s rights, reproductive justice, and LGBTQ+ rights are under all out attack from the far-right, weaponizing their hate to drive a culture war, we need a district attorney who will fight against bigotry and for bodily autonomy. With Katz’s record, and with a slate of dubious opponents, my vote is clear: Melinda Katz for Queens District Attorney.

Shekar Krishnan represents the neighborhoods of Elmhurst, Jackson Heights in the City Council.