In the Sept. 10 primaries, residents of Brooklyn clearly voted for new leadership. As a result, Kenneth Thompson emerged as the Democratic nominee for Brooklyn District Attorney. Voters put their confidence in him to serve as the borough’s chief prosecutor.
Thompson beat the current District Attorney, Charles Hynes, who has been on the job since 1990. The nominee wants to go beyond conventional criminal prosecution to round out the office so that it also focuses on employer abuse of immigrants and discrimination against minorities.
Yet, despite overwhelming support for his opponent and a sharp defeat, Hynes believes Brooklyn is not ready to move forward without him. This is why the Democratic D.A. tossed his hat back into the race, only this time on the Republican line.
To his great credit, Hynes has implemented pioneering and progressive programs. For example, his office works to reintegrate ex-offenders into society by supporting them with job placement, and thus, preventing recidivism. He is also recognized as a trailblazer in addressing domestic violence as a crime.
However, even though 24 yearsthat’s six termshave offered quite some time to produce positive results, Hynes’s record isn’t untarnished. His office is reviewing close to 40 cases handled by a detective whose flawed investigation resulted in the 22-year jail sentence of an innocent man. At least five others, all black or Latino men, have been exonerated as a result of wrongful convictions under Hynes. And as a candidate in this election, his behavior and campaign haven’t been exactly stellar.
Hynes harps that Thompson doesn’t have the background needed to be D.A. But Thompson served as an investigator in the Treasury Department under Bill Clinton and also as a federal prosecutor focused on employment discrimination and civil rights. And what is abundantly clear is that he won the Democratic nomination in this race by 10%. So he did not receive a slim mandate.
The decision here belongs to voters, not Hynes. Brooklyn doesn’t need a new trial at the polls. What it needs is leadership that represents the totality of its diverse residents’ needs.
On Nov. 5, voters should reaffirm their choice of Thompson.