The most hard-fought, nastiest race in Nassau County this election season has been the contest for district attorney, pitting Democratic State Sen. Todd Kaminsky against Republican Anne Donnelly. Both have run scathing television ads, with Donnelly accusing Kaminsky of freeing prisoners under the state’s new bail-reform law, and Kaminsky accusing Donnelly of botching a murder trial leading to a mistrial.
But the bad-mouthing began with the Republicans, who see the D.A.’s race as their best chance to capture a powerful seat in county government and were first to air the ads. In our view, Kaminsky is the better candidate.
The State Legislature passed a bail-reform measure in 2019, restricting the use of cash bail and pretrial detention in misdemeanor and nonviolent felony cases. It also gave judges discretion to assign bail in almost all violent felony cases and certain nonviolent cases, such as witness tampering. The law was amended in 2020, and Kaminsky voted for the amended law, which gives judges bail discretion in a greater number of cases.
In her TV ads, Donnelly accused Kaminsky of writing the bail-reform bill. That was untrue. Kaminsky voted for it, but was not its author.
This issue was central to the campaign for D.A. That’s a shame, because there are other issues that demanded the attention of both candidates. Kaminsky, while having to defend himself against the false allegations, did bring up other matters, including the need for stronger gun control legislation and a woman’s right to choose in the growing debate over abortion.
Kaminsky has proven himself to be an able state senator, particularly when it comes to the environment, an issue of great importance to his South Shore constituency. He is chairman of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee, and authored the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, an aggressive climate-change program that puts New York on the road to carbon neutrality and a green-energy economy. He has been in the forefront of a fight to regulate carcinogenic contaminants in Long Island’s water supply, and has passed legislation banning products containing toxic substances. He secured billions of dollars for clean-water systems.
While Kaminsky’s environmental record is enviable, the question is, does this make a good prosecutor? We believe his passion for issues demonstrates his hunger to do good work through public office, and his ability to work effectively as an elected leader. Kaminsky has pledged to use the bully pulpit of the D.A.’s office to take on big-picture law-enforcement issues, and he no doubt can.
Donnelly argues that she is the law-enforcement professional. She has been a prosecutor in the county D.A.’s office for 32 years, and served as deputy chief of the Organized Crime and Rackets Bureau. Certainly, such service is admirable.
Kaminsky, who became a state senator in 2016, worked as an assistant district attorney in the Queens D.A.’s office before joining the U.S. attorney’s office for the Eastern District of New York. He prosecuted elected officials who used taxpayer dollars to support their lifestyles, including former State Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr., State Assemblyman Jimmy Meng and Michael Grimm, a member of Congress.
Kaminsky offered some fresh ideas to improve the D.A.’s office. He promised to crack down on hate crimes at a time when anti-Semitic and racist acts are rising in New York. He also promised to root out corruption in Nassau, whether among Republicans or Democrats, and swore to improve trust in government at a time when that is sorely lacking.
Kaminsky has also vowed to work harder with federal law-enforcement officials to defeat the rise of gang violence in Nassau. But he said he wanted to go deeper, and work with communities and schools dealing with such problems.
Our view is that Kaminsky, given his background in both government and the U.S. attorney’s office, is an excellent choice for Nassau district attorney. We give him our wholehearted support, and voters should, too.
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