Eric Gonzalez wins DA Democratic primary, vows to continue predecessor’s progressive legacy

Top prosecutor: Gov. Cuomo announced that Eric Gonzalez will remain the borough’s District Attorney until the 2017 election.
Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez.

He can finally drop the Acting!

Acting District Attorney Eric Gonzalez is now Kings County’s District Attorney, after blowing his rival Democratic crime fighters out of the water in Tuesday’s primary election that saw no Republicans compete for the seat in the deep-blue county.

Gonzalez was predicted to retain the seat as chief legal eagle — he received the most prominent endorsements, amassed the biggest war chest, and enjoyed the comfort of incumbency going into the election. But many still questioned whether he is a true reformer who would follow in the footsteps of his late-predecessor, Ken Thompson, a staunch advocate of overturning wrongful convictions.

But Gonzalez pledged to do just that in order to keep Brooklynites safe, and thanked voters for believing that he could carry on Thompson’s legacy.

“It’s my promise to each and every one of you, and to the people of Brooklyn, that I will never forget the principles that served to guide me for 23 years in the DA’s office … and served to guide how we are going to keep the people of Brooklyn safe and have true fairness in our criminal justice system,” Gonzalez said to loud applause at his Williamsburg victory party as his wife and three sons looked on. “This is an incredible moment for Brooklyn, for my family, and for all of us because we did this together, because each and every person in this room was instrumental in getting this job done. I’m honored by the trust that each and every one of you have put into my candidacy and into the belief that I could follow in the footsteps of our late, beloved Ken Thompson.”

The Brooklyn native — King’s County’s first Latino top prosecutor — bested fellow attorneys Anne Swern, Marc Fliedner, term-limited Councilman Vincent Gentile (D–Bay Ridge), Pat Gatling, and Ama Dwimoh in the race, securing more than 50 percent of the vote a little after 11 pm, according to data from the city’s Board of Elections. At press time, he received more than 74,000 votes after about 96 percent of ballots were counted.

Swern followed with a little more than 16,000 votes, while the four other competitors trailed behind her. Dwimoh got the fewest votes with just more than 10,000.

Gonzalez, who grew up in East New York and Williamsburg, became acting district attorney in October 2016 after Thompson tapped him to assume the position before he died from cancer.

The district attorney hopefuls held several heated debates leading up to election night, at which each vied to position him or herself as the most progressive prosecutor, promising criminal justice reform by eliminating cash bail, closing Rikers Island, and not prosecuting marijuana or turnstile-jumping cases.

But adopting positions similar to Gonzalez’s left little room for any of the acting district attorney’s rivals to win enough votes to oust him on election night.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.

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