DA Candidates Debate

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Spirited exchange held

between Murray and Singas

Arguably one of the hottest races steaming toward Election Day is for the office of Nassau County District Attorney. And on Wednesday, Sept. 30, the Garden City Hotel became the front line when the Garden City Chamber of Commerce kicked off its luncheon program with appearances by both Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray and Acting District Attorney Madeline Singas making their first public appearance together in a public forum.

As has been the case with past luncheons that featured political candidates, both attendees gave opening statements detailing their future goals for the position they’re running for followed by questions devised by members of the chamber. Board member Kevin Walsh of Walsh Markus McDougal & DeBellis, LLP  served as the moderator.

Murray immediately addressed her opponent’s assertion that the district attorney’s role should be filled by someone with experience as a prosecuting attorney by touting her experience as “CEO of America’s largest township.” She felt the position called for someone whose skills were more aligned with managing than prosecuting cases, suggesting Singas’s prior bosses Queens County District Attorney Richard A. Brown and former Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice, didn’t prosecute cases as DA. Singas countered by going through Brown’s experience on different levels of the state and appellate courts and Rice having been a prosecutor on the state and federal level, quipping “…Kate, you are no Judge Brown, you are no Kathleen Rice.”

Murray also stressed her local Levittown roots and law enforcement credentials mentioning recent endorsements by three Nassau County police unions and several other law enforcement groups as well as being the daughter of an FBI agent. The Hempstead supervisor also pledged to stop allowing drug dealers from getting light sentences by claiming to be addicts and getting steered into Nassau County’s drug diversion court, which handles defendants with chemical dependency problems by reducing or eliminating certain criminal charges in exchange for participating in treatment and remaining drug and alcohol free.

Singas was adamant in pushing her 24 years as a prosecutor as being a crucial component to her being an effective district attorney and contradicted Murray’s critique of the drug diversion court by explaining that “…judges set diversion, not prosecutors.”

Community policing, cybercrime and heroin abuse were addressed by both candidates, with both agreeing that treatment for addiction needed to be part of the solution towards handling this Island-wide drug problem. The atmosphere got particularly testy when the audience grumbled disapprovingly when Singas suggested that Murray received questions ahead of time, a claim Walsh was quick to disabuse.

“I see that the supervisor has her notes on broken windows in front of her,” Singas pointed out. “I don’t know if she got a preview of the questions, but I’m prepared to answer nonetheless.”

The main thrust for both candidates came through the prism with which they view what the role of being district attorney entailed. For Murray, it was about the position needing “…a lawyer who’s a leader, not a lawyer who’s never led” and Singas asking whether a crime victim would rather have standing next to them in court “…a district attorney with 24 years of experience prosecuting cases or a manager.”

The election for Nassau County District Attorney will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 3.

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