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Queens Chronicle

Cabán win is not the last word; Katz or Lasak can still prevail

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Posted: Thursday, June 27, 2019 10:30 am

Thanks to pathetically low turnout, barely more than 10 percent of Queens’ active voters made a momentous decision on Tuesday. It’s one that we fear will not be for the best, though there remains a chance to reverse it.

Tiffany Cabán, a 31-year-old public defender, won the Democratic primary for Queens district attorney, defeating five other candidates including Borough President Melinda Katz. Cabán’s victory marks another strong win for the progressive movement in Queens, following in the footsteps of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s defeat of then-Rep. Joe Crowley last year. Cabán had in fact been endorsed by Ocasio-Cortez, as well as fellow progressives such as Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

As the Democratic nominee, Cabán is virtually assured of winning the seat in November, according to the conventional wisdom, because the Republican Party is so weak here, and its nominee, Daniel Kogan, is not exactly a contender. He has no campaign and no funds and actually told the New York Post on Wednesday that he may not even bother waging a real battle for the seat.

That’s about as pathetic as the fact that almost 90 percent of Queens’ eligible Democrats didn’t bother to vote in the primary. Out of 766,117 active voters registered with the Board of Elections, only about 85,000 participated. At least $7 million was spent by the candidates, but the race barely registered with most people. This is not good civics.

But it doesn’t have to be this way in November. The Republican Party has two options we hope it will seriously consider — very seriously consider.

One is Greg Lasak, the retired judge and longtime prosecutor who ran a distant third Tuesday but would make a fine district attorney. Lasak, more than any of the candidates, would continue the fine legacy of Richard Brown, the longtime DA whose health problems prompted this special election, even before his recent death.

The other Republican option is Katz. No, she’s not as conservative as Lasak (or, say, Councilman Bob Holden, a Democrat who won his seat by running on the GOP line). But she’s a centrist, someone who, as a moderate, would be much more to Republicans’ liking than Cabán.

Many of Cabán’s views are simply terrifying. Close the jails on Rikers Island, she says, as do many city officials today — but don’t build any replacements. That means letting about 8,000 people now locked up for one reason or another — usually multiple reasons, multiple charges — out onto the street willy-nilly. Most of the establishment is for closing Rikers but replacing it with new jails, including one in Kew Gardens. That’s something we oppose, but it’s better than no jails. How do you have no jails?

Then there’s her view on prostitution. Not only would she decriminalize sex work — a view good people can agree or disagree on — she’d legalize both being a client and being a pimp. That’s something we cannot accept. Nor can we support Cabán's positions on things like bail — that none should be imposed on anyone, ever — or legalizing all marijuana use and ignoring welfare fraud.

This page believes in the broken windows theory of policing, which has driven crime down so far over the last three decades it’s practically unbelievable — murders from 2,245 in 1990 to under 300 a year today. The Cabáns of the world would risk reversing all that. We sincerely hope that not only will the Republican Party put up a strong candidate in November — whether named Katz or Lasak — but that the people of Queens will recognize the danger we face and vote against the utter radicalization of our District Attorney’s Office.

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