Manhattan District Attorney Candidates Face Off in First Debate

Manhattan District Attorney Candidates Face Off in First Debate

The Democratic candidates for Manhattan district attorney are expected to tackle a range of issues Tuesday night during the race’s first and perhaps only televised debate, such as the role of a prosecutor, alternatives to incarceration and inequities in the justice system.

Unlike past races where contenders competed to be the toughest on crime, most of the eight Democratic candidates have promised broad changes to a system that they say has handed out punitive sentences and disproportionately affected communities of color.

The June 22 Democratic primary is likely to decide who will ultimately succeed Manhattan District Attorney

Cyrus Vance

Jr., who isn’t running for re-election. Democrats vastly outnumber Republicans in Manhattan.

The debate, hosted by NY1, was recorded in advance of Tuesday night, with a format that included brief opening statements before candidates answered questions posed by moderator Errol Lewis. The candidates were also able to ask questions of their opponents during one portion of the evening.

Though the candidates have participated in numerous candidate forums, all held virtually, the debate marks a potential moment that could influence the outcome of the race.

The candidates have so far fallen into two camps: five insiders who have touted their prosecution experience and three outsiders who campaign on never having worked as a prosecutor.

Alvin Bragg and Tali Farhadian Weinstein have worked at state and federal prosecutor’s offices. Diana Florence, Lucy Lang and Liz Crotty, who is the most traditional law-and-order candidate, are alumnae of the Manhattan district attorney’s office. Running on the most progressive platforms are Tahanie Aboushi, a civil-rights attorney, Assemblyman Dan Quart, a civil litigator, and Eliza Orlins, a Manhattan public defender

Manhattan’s next top prosecutor will take office amid a spike in citywide shootings, a continuing pandemic and in the wake of a summer of mass protests for racial justice. He or she must also be prepared to push forward with the investigation into former President

Donald Trump

and his businesses.

Most of the candidates have deflected questions about how they would handle a potential case against Mr. Trump because any comment or public commitment to prosecute could call into question their ability to handle it fairly.

Other topics have been hotly debated at virtual forums held over the past several months. The candidates have offered competing visions for how to tackle rising violent crime and detailed lengthy lists of misdemeanors each vows not to prosecute.

Write to Deanna Paul at

Manhattan District Attorney’s Race

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Source: WSJ – US News

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