The Brooklyn DA Race and the Weight of Ken Thompson's Legacy

By: Bruce Gyory
– City & State NY

The most intriguing and consequential primary in New York City this year will be the Democratic race for district attorney in Brooklyn. This primary will almost inevitably become a referendum on the reform measures put in place by the late Ken Thompson, who passed away last year.
In 2013, Thompson pulled off an upset victory running against the tarnished tenure of seven-term District Attorney Charles "Joe" Hynes. Thompson stitched together a reform coalition of minority voters and white progressives, using the connecting threads of opposing discriminatory prosecutorial discretion and wrongful convictions to defeat Hynes. Thompson drew "national attention to himself and to his office for his efforts to restore a sense of racial equity to the borough's courts and policing practices," according to a New York Times article in April.
Before Thompson died suddenly in October, he anointed his top deputy, the current Acting District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, as his successor. The pathos surrounding Thompson's untimely death, at the zenith of his professional prestige, created a peculiar political dynamic.

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