In 2005, Kathleen Rice, a relative unknown, shocked the Nassau County political establishment when she defeated 31-year-incumbent Denis Dillon to become the first woman elected district attorney in Long Island history.
Since then, Rice, tough, effective and sometimes controversial, has brought to the county a number of initiatives that show she has what it takes to be its top law enforcement officer.
She has led a nationally recognized effort to combat drunk driving that led to the county’s first convictions for DWI-related murder. To combat gang violence, she has worked with federal prosecutors to rein in the feared MS-13 gang.
In 2011, Rice led the first-ever investigation into widespread reports of student cheating on the college entrance exams, prosecuting not only those who took the test using false identities, but those who paid them to do so. Her work led to seminal changes in the testing process.
She has launched several educational initiatives to inform students about the dangers of everything from texting while driving to prescription drug abuse.
Rice, the president of the state District Attorneys Association and a member of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s special commission on public corruption, recently said that since she took over as D.A., there has been a 70 percent reduction in crime and a dramatic decrease in community violence in Nassau County.
She generated controversy this year when her office published the names and photographs of dozens of men caught in a prostitution sting and arrested. Some accused her of overstepping her bounds, but she responded that the names and photos of people who are arrested, for whatever reason, are always public information.
Rice’s opponent is Howard Sturim, 54, the principal law clerk for Acting Nassau County Supreme Court Justice Alan Honorof. Sturim is a former assistant district attorney who, in his 13 years in the D.A.’s office, headed its arson unit and then its Major Offense Bureau.
Sturim ran for district court judge in North Hempstead in 2005, and again in 2011. Although his background makes him a legitimate candidate for district attorney, Rice far outstrips him in experience and expertise. We urge voters to re-elect her Nassau County district attorney.