NY1 hosted the only televised debate for the closely watched race for Brooklyn district attorney Tuesday night. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed the following report.
They agree on a lot: reforming the bail system, shielding immigrants from deportation, and not prosecuting quality-of-life offenses like marijuana. But you wouldn’t know it from the arrows being slung Tuesday night, mostly at acting District Attorney Eric Gonzalez.
"My question to you, Eric, is where were you? Where were you during those 19 years?" said Brooklyn district attorney candidate Vincent Gentile.
At issue was a record of wrongful convictions in the DA's office. Many were overturned by former DA Ken Thompson, who died unexpectedly last year and picked Gonzalez as his successor.
Sparks flew when his opponents questioned whether Gonzalez had done enough.
There was a back-and-forth between Gonzalez and Brooklyn DA candidate Ama Dwimoh.
Dwimoh said, "What's more important is that people are held accountable for what went on."
In response, Gonzalez said, "What Ama is speaking about is punishment. And those are politically motivated attacks. Maybe they're a little bit naïve."
"Now that you're running for district attorney, and after really riding on Ken's coattails, now you want to talk the talk," Dwimoh responded.
In response to that, Gonzalez said, "You take claim to helping him run for office. If you were as valuable and instrumental as possible, you would have been the chief assistant."
Then, the tables were turned on Dwimoh, who was suspended, then resigned, from former DA Joe Hynes' office.
"Twenty-three of her staff were spoken to. To a person, they said she was an abusive boss," said Brooklyn DA candidate Anne Swern.
Gonzalez, keeping his cool throughout, also dished it out to Patricia Gatling, who spent time living in Manhattan.
"You know what Pat, I stayed in the community that I lived in. I stayed. I didn't leave," Gonzalez said.
Candidate Marc Fliedner, meanwhile, successfully prosecuted police office Peter Liang, who shot an unarmed man in a public housing stairwell.
Then-DA Thompson chose not to seek prison time, a decision Gonzalez supported and Fliedner did not, having been liaison to the victim's family.
"They heard it on the news," Fliedner said.
"Then why didn't you tell her? Why didn’t you tell her?" Gonzalez asked.
Fliedner responded, "Because I was forbidden to."
It was the one topic where candidates took a rare shot at Thompson.
"'Are you a prosecutor, or are you a politician?' And quite frankly, I think Ken succumbed to the politician," Gatling said.