Outgoing Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson obtained a nomination for State Supreme Court justice from the Bronx Democratic County Committee (BDCC) at a Sept. 24 convention in the east Bronx. The group also unanimously voted to nominate Darcel Clark, currently an associate justice at the State Supreme Court’s Appellate Division, as the next DA.
After winning an uncontested primary to be reelected as DA earlier this month, Mr. Johnson on Sept. 18 announced he in fact planned to step down from the office. That left it to Democratic Party officials to nominate his replacement, effectively leaving voters out of the process. The timing of the transition from one DA to another has drawn strong backlash from good government groups and other critics.
“It’s really outrageous,” said David Kornbluh, a Riverdale resident who is active in local political clubs. “It’s so cynical that it’s almost funny. This is the kind of political manipulation I thought we’d outgrown.”
An activist in the east Bronx who had unsuccessfully sought to be a delegate at last week’s convention voiced similar objections.
“We have them circumventing voters from electing our next new DA,” said Roxanne Delgado. “And I think we don’t have a community left in the Bronx because people feel betrayed and people don’t want to trust anymore.”
State Sen. Gustavo Rivera, whose 33rd district includes Kingsbridge, sympathized with disgruntled voters.
“I share some of their concerns. I don’t think it should be determined this way,” he said.
In regard to Mr. Johnson’s nomination to the State Supreme Court, Mr. Rivera said he has long opposed the process since it leaves it to party leaders, not voters, to make choices.
The senator acknowledged that the process can be “perceived as being driven by political decisions,” but said he takes Mr. Johnson at his word and will vote for him in November.
State Sen. Jeff Klein, one of the most powerful lawmakers in the borough, did not answer an interview request for this article.