As a city councilman, Richards chaired the Public Safety Committee, where he pushed for a fair justice system, often working with Katz while she served as Queens borough president.
“For me, Queens public safety is personal. I grew up in southeast Queens and got involved in politics when a close friend of mine as a teenager lost his life to gun violence,” Richards said. “Melinda Katz has served the residents of Queens diligently as their district attorney and I know her dedication to public safety is just as fervent as mine.”
In recent weeks, Katz has gained the support of organized labor unions, including the Uniformed Firefighters Association, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), 32BJ SEIU, the New York City Building and Construction Trades Council, 1199SEIU and many others.
“It is an honor to receive the support of Borough President Donovan Richards, a tireless advocate for the public,” Katz said. “This endorsement means so much to me, as the borough president has always remained a critical voice for New Yorkers in the arena of criminal justice. I look forward to working with the borough president for four more years, as we continue to make Queens a safer place to live, work and raise a family.”
Katz will face a challenge in the June 27 Democratic primary from Douglaston resident George Grasso, 65, who resigned as administrative judge for criminal matters for Queens Supreme Court in August to run for district attorney, despite having two years left on his term. In endorsing Katz, Richards looked past the challenger.
“This year, there is only one choice,” Richards said. “We must re-elect District Attorney Melinda Katz and not take one step back from the immense progress we have made since she took office three years ago.”
Grasso was brimming with confidence after he kicked off the petitioning process with 30 campaign workers Tuesday evening on Bliss Plaza under the 7 train in Sunnyside.
“We got nearly 500 signatures on what was a very lousy night,” Grasso told QNS. “You need 4,000 signatures to get on the ballot so a few more evenings like that and we’ll have enough in a week and a half.”
Grasso served more than three decades in the NYPD, rising through the ranks to become the first deputy police commissioner before stepping down in 2010 and heading to the bench. Since he announced he was running for DA in October, he has campaigned in Flushing and southeast Queens but it was his first foray into western Queens as a candidate.
“These folks were fully engaged Sunnyside Democrats signing in this awful weather and expressing a level of support that there is a challenger running for DA this year, and in two cases, we got signatures from employees of the current Queens DA’s office, “ Grasso said with a laugh. “It gave me a chance to pass out campaign literature about my platform and my biography, and such, so it was a really good start to the petitioning process.”