After one challenger recently bowed out, the race for Brooklyn District Attorney is now a two-way competition as former federal prosecutor Ken Thompson tries to unseat the longtime incumbent, Charles Hynes. Hynes and Thompson faced off in a fiery debate Tuesday on NY1. NY1's Jeanine Ramirez filed the following report as part of her Brooklyn Week series.
Four years ago, Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes ran unopposed. This time, the six-term incumbent is up against former federal prosecutor and civil rights attorney Ken Thompson.
In a debate that aired on NY1's "Road to City Hall" Tuesday, Thompson came out swinging, first on what he called Hynes' failed leadership on the stop-and-frisk issue.
"He should have shown Brooklyn leadership," Thompson said. "We needed to wait for a federal judge, Shira Scheindlin, to issue a decision yesterday. The people of Brooklyn have been let down by this DA because he sat 19 stories in the sky, shrugged his shoulders."
"I have been more committed than any district attorney in this city to making sure young African-Americans are diverted out of the criminal justice system," Hynes responded.
Hynes was on the defensive during much of the debate. He spoke of his long history in law and government, and charged that Thompson doesn't have the experience to be the next DA.
"He has had no record to speak of," Hynes said. "When he was an assistant U.S. attorney, he was never promoted to any supervisory position. I think it's strange that he thinks with that kind of background, he has the ability to run an office with 1,200 people, 500 assistant district attorneys."
Thompson also called Hynes' ethics into question.
"Former Brooklyn district attorney employees have testified to falsifying affidavits that were submitted to the court, to grabbing people and bringing them to hotels against their will to force them to testify," Thompson said.
Hynes called those accusations slander, saying Thompson is reckless. But Thompson continued to try to undermine Hynes' legacy.
"You have been in the office for two decades and said that you're going to serve into your 90s so you can set a record," Thompson said, to which Hynes responded, "Don't misstate what I said."
The community will get a chance to ask Hynes and Thompson questions Wednesday night at a public forum organized by the Brooklyn Reform Coalition. The event will take place in Downtown Brooklyn at St. Francis College.