POINT OF VIEW

More independent judges needed here in the Bronx

Posted

On June 22, Bronx Democrats will get to choose two Democratic candidates for civil court judge. Since the Bronx is heavily Democratic, a win in the primary is most likely a win for the nominees in November, and the new ranked-choice voting does not apply for judges.

I am the candidate that began the conversation about judges in my letter to the editor published in The Riverdale Press. And since the conversation has taken off, I am happy for it. An informed electorate is a powerful one.

Since February, I have been speaking with my neighbors about the voter’s power to elect judges who reflect our communities in lived experience in addition to legal qualifications. Since petition time, I have traveled the entirety of the West Bronx, from Riverdale to Port Morris. I have frequented the streets I walked as a child — like Burnside Avenue — where my mother was a laundromat attendant until she became a mail carrier with the U.S. Postal Service.

I’ve knocked on doors to apartments I lived in as a young child, teenager and young adult well into my 30s, and my conversation with them has revealed that voters don’t know why there is often just one choice for a judge position in November. Many said they skip the judge section because they feel the choice has already been made for them without a primary.

I believe this race among five attorneys for two judgeships illustrates what a healthy democracy looks like. The voter has a choice in filling two positions that require high trust, which will require examination of the candidates by the public — rightfully so, as it is them who will be most impacted by the decisions made by judges.

We, the people, are more likely to meet a judge for just about anything than we are the President of the United States, or even the mayor of New York City.

I am asking voters to elect me because I have the unique qualifications that fit the community’s highest needs. I have led a life in service in law and in service to community. This combination makes me a judge of, and for, all the people.

I started my life as a 19-year-old U.S. Army soldier. Later on, in law school, with various internships at two district attorney offices and local courts. And after law school, as a prosecutor in Bronx County.

At the DA’s office, I worked my way up to the investigations division, and was assigned cases for the arson and economic crimes bureau. This included complex investigations dealing with fraud cases and public servants who used their position for self-benefit. Learning how these crimes against integrity erode public trust and contribute to our urban problems led me to become an internal prosecutor for the New York Police Department.

There I prosecuted corruption and misconduct in One Police Plaza’s “trial room,” where officers accused of serious misconduct or corruption are tried and disciplined or fired.

My career has centered on improving the public’s trust, and I bring the perspective of the veteran — a demographic that makes up 8 percent of the incarcerated population, but it is not represented in proportion on the bench. This in addition to my perspective of years of teaching urban college students.

I am asking you to vote for me because I offer the entirety of what is lacking in our city’s courts, the unique combination of a lived experience that reflects the same as many of the people who come before the court on a daily basis with an extensive legal experience that has always been rooted in service to the community.

I invite you to learn more by visiting me at YGT4BronxJudge.com. Early voting started June 12, and primary election day is June 22.

The author is a candidate for municipal court judge.

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