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DA Katz re-election campaign endorsed by teachers union, more Queens elected officials

May. 23, 2023 By Bill Parry

With less than a month to go before early voting gets underway in the Democratic primary on June 17, Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz announced on May 22 that her re-election campaign is endorsed by the United Federation of Teachers, representing nearly 200,000 members. The union emphasized her work to enhance school safety for the hundreds of thousands of teachers, students, and school staff throughout the borough.

“From her time in the New York State Assembly, throughout her tenure in the City Council and Queen Borough President’s Office, and to this day as Queens District Attorney, Melinda Katz has been a strong advocate for UFT members — investing millions of dollars in public schools, fighting tirelessly to prevent school closings and championing the educators of Queens,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew. “We look forward to supporting her in this election campaign.”

Katz thanked Mulgrew and the UFT for their support.

“Teachers go above and beyond to make sure that our children have the knowledge they need to navigate their futures,” Katz said. “Our educators need to know they are safe and supported as they shape the young minds of this borough – something my office will continue to ensure.”

Katz has secured endorsements from key organized labor unions such as 32BJ SEIU, the New York City Building and Construction Trades Council, 1199SEIU, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 3, the New York State Court Officers Association and many other unions. O, May 11, Katz announced her re-election campaign was endorsed by eight Queens City Council members and less than a week later she secured the support of a ninth member of the Queens delegation, Councilman Shekar Krishnan.

“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,” Krishnan said. “At a time when gender justice, women’s rights, 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. That’s Melinda Katz, and it’s why she’s earned my vote.”

Katz also earned an endorsement from Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez.

“Melinda is leading the drive to make our criminal justice system stronger and fairer by having a full-time immigration lawyer on staff to protect immigrants’ rights,” Velázquez said. “She’s led the fight against human trafficking. She’s taken thousands of guns off our streets. She’s shown she knows how to balance justice and safety, and I’m proud to endorse her for re-election.”

Katz said she would partner with them to work for a safer, fairer borough.

“I am proud to receive the endorsements of these two esteemed lawmakers, both of whom have shown unwavering commitment to serving their constituencies and tackling the tough issues to help their communities thrive,” Katz said. “Working together over the past three years, we have achieved greater accountability for drivers of crime, we’re gotten countless guns off the streets, and we’ve created more opportunities for young people to stay on the right track.”

That same day, Katz joined Mayor Eric Adams and the DAs from the other boroughs at City Hall to announce their plan to combat retail theft.

“Retail theft complaints more than doubled in Queens from 2018 through 2022,” Katz said. “In response to this surge and the resulting requests for help, I launched the Merchants Business Improvement Program in a variety of business districts in the borough. Retailers have said the program has made a difference, but clearly more is needed, not just in Queens, but across the city. I applaud the mayor for his leadership on this critical issue. We can never lose sight of the fact that communities thrive when local businesses thrive.”

Her main challenger in the June 27th Democratic primary, retired Judge George Grasso, dismissed Katz’s timing.

“As far as I can see, for the first three years of her tenure, it was basically ignored as an issue,” Grasso said. “The best language I could use right now is ‘too little, too late.’”

Grasso, who was a beat cop in the 113th Precinct in Jamaica before rising through the ranks of the NYPD to first deputy commissioner, said that if he is elected Queens DA, he would implement a strategy of his own to combat retail theft.

“I’ll divide Queens into quadrants and I will involve precinct commanders,” Grasso said. “We’re going to bring in merchants, we’re going to bring in the clergy and we will make it very clear that across the board, retail theft is a high priority.”

Crime victim advocate Madeline Brame endorses former Judge George Grasso who retired from the bench to challenge Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz in next month’s Democratic primary. Courtesy of Grasso’s campaign

Grasso made those comments in City Hall Park on May 19, where spoke on the rights of crime victims and was endorsed by Madeline Brame, the mother of an Army veteran who was stabbed to death in Harlem in 2018. His killer was allowed to plead guilty to a lesser charge of gang assault and Brame became a national figure after she testified during a controversial Congressional hearing in Manhattan last month.

“Until the current policies are rolled back in their entirety and we start over from scratch, nothing
will change,” Brame said. “We don’t need tweaking. We need repeal of these disastrous Bail Reform policies. We need a District Attorney in Queens who is going to honor their oath of office and prosecute criminals and put public safety first. That District Attorney will be Judge George Grasso.”

He was also endorsed by crime victim advocate Jennifer Harrison who was unable to attend his rally.

“I am grateful for the support of crime victim advocates Madeline Brame and Jennifer Harrison,” Grasso said. “My platform from day one has put victims first – unlike my incumbent opponent. The Queens crime crisis has been created by politics, and residents need a District Attorney who will speak the truth and stand up for justice. The people of Queens deserve nothing less.”

Grasso’s campaign filed more than 10,000 signatures from Queens residents with the Board of Elections on Tuesday to appear on his independent “Public Safety” line on the ballot in November’s general election. His campaign has now filed approximately 20,000 signatures for Queens District Attorney.

“I am grateful for the support of voters across Queens who have signed my petitions for the Public Safety line,” Grasso said. “Every day of the petitioning period, I was out in the field talking to voters. It is apparent to me that Queens residents know what I know: that crime in their communities is spiking and the incumbent District Attorney is failing to keep them as safe as they are entitled to be.”

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