Public defender Tiffany Caban was endorsed by State Senator Jessica Ramos, who made the announcement on Monday at Corona Plaza.
Ramos said she grew up in a different Queens than today, noting that Jackson Heights was dubbed the “cocaine capital of the world” when she was young.
“Everyday, I saw the toll the mass incarceration system played on my peers,” she said. “Regularly, we saw my neighbors, my classmates’ parents and members of our community disappear.”
She added that her father even started a visitation program for Colombian immigrants who were incarcerated as a result of the War on Drugs.
“The issue of our courts has always been a very, very personal one to me,” Ramos said.
That’s why she’s backing Caban, whom she sees as a candidate who most understands vulnerable communities such as sex workers, LGBT youth, and people with disabilities.
Ramos said Caban will bring about “transformative change” to the borough.
“Her experience as a public defender has given her a firsthand look into the ways our courts have failed our people,” she said. “She knows the work that must be done to deliver real justice to our neighbors.
“As our next DA, Tiffany will ensure that we are investing in our neighbors,” Ramos added, “instead of incarcerating them.”
Caban credited Ramos for her State Senate bid last year, which inspired “young Latina progressives like myself” to seek office, despite not having establishment support.
She said the state senator has a mindset similar to public defenders, who always put their clients first.
“Public defenders are just relentless in our advocacy,” Caban said. “The senator embodies that as well.”
“We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to center community voices in our policymaking,” she added, “and that we are getting the kind of justice that our communities deserve.”
Caban has also received the endorsement of Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, Working Families Party, New York City chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, and other progressive organizations.
Meanwhile, on Monday, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie backed Melinda Katz for the same post.
The Bronx lawmaker highlighted the borough president’s 25 years in public service, and said she’s the “only candidate with the right kind of experience to implement the criminal justice reforms” the state has passed.
“She has put forward a comprehensive agenda to change the District Attorney’s office and ensure justice for both victims and defendants,” he said in a statement. “I’m confident that Melinda will usher in a new era of criminal justice reform as DA.”
To date, Katz’s list of endorsements include three members of Congress, four City Council members and six Assembly members. She’s also backed by unions like 32BJ, Hotel Trades Council and CWA Local 1180.
Caban and Katz are among several candidates vying for the vacant position. Joining them are Councilman Rory Lancman, former Supreme Court Judge Gregory Lasak, and former prosecutors Mina Malik, Betty Lugo and Jose Nieves.