Incumbent Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas is running for her second four-term. Long Beach resident Francis McQuade opposes her. The Herald asked the candidates four questions to give the public a glimpse on the candidates’ views.
Herald: How do you think the DA’s office impacts daily life?
Francis McQuade: Benjamin Franklin said “Justice will not be served until those unaffected by it are as outraged as those affected by it.” This means that everyone has a vital interest in who is their district attorney, even for their concerns of safety from street crime and also their concerns for the protection of their civil liberties by overreaching police or government. Crime-ridden areas do not prosper. The district attorney is responsible for the safeguarding of civil liberties in the justice system and protection from unjustified prosecution. Justice is not served when the handcuffs are put on. Every day presents a new opportunity to connect pieces together.
Madeline Singas: As Nassau’s District Attorney, it’s my job to keep our communities safe, and that’s why I’m proud to run on my record: crime is down 25 percent during my first term, overdoses are falling, MS-13 is on the run thanks to massive multi-agency takedowns, and corrupt politicians from both parties have been held accountable. I hope the voters will give me the opportunity to continue this progress in collaboration with our outstanding police and community partners at the local, state and federal levels.
Herald: What makes you qualified to run for this office?
McQuade: I served as a police officer prior into going into law. I worked at a post- sentencing counseling for the State of Connecticut Department of Corrections through a contracted agency. I have managed field operations for a 1,500 personnel company as attorney and administrator. I have been an attorney admitted for practice in New York state, and the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals and before the U. S. Supreme Court.
Singas: When I first ran for office in 2015, I ran on my experience as a career prosecutor, not a politician. As district attorney, I’ve put my nearly 30 years of experience to work to keep our communities safe, protect victims, and to safeguard the rights of the accused. My opponent has never prosecuted a single criminal case.
In my first term, Nassau has continued to lead as an innovator in criminal justice and our strategies are working — crime has dropped to historic lows, innovative programs are working to fight violence, gangs, and drugs, and fewer people are in jail because we’ve helped offenders get the help and support they need to lead productive and law-abiding lives.
We’ve worked hard to help the most vulnerable in our communities — seniors who have been victimized by scams or abuse, domestic violence and sex abuse victims, hate crime victims, and immigrants who have been trafficked or exploited.
Leading this office takes the skill and judgment that can only come from experience, and I’m the only candidate with a proven success making Nassau safer.
Herald: What do you think is the most pressing issue facing the district attorney’s office? What will you do to combat it?
McQuade: The single most pressing issue facing our community is the new legislation being handed down by New York state. These new judicial processes are borderline unconstitutional and dangerous to our safety. With cashless bail, there will be an opportunity for criminals to walk away less than 24 hours after committing a crime, which can vary from petty to extreme. These laws were designed to protect those in the system from being treated unfairly, but we don’t need laws, which dismantle how we go about prosecuting criminals.
With the right people handling the judicial process, like me as district attorney, crime will be handled the right way without baseless amnesty. I will follow the law as it is my job, but I will never lose that edge in doing everything in my power to make sure bad people are not in a place where they can hurt anyone. Although the DA’s office has no impact on legislation, the way the office handles everything after Jan. 1, can completely change the justice systems landscape.
Singas: Crime in Nassau County is at a record low and fatal drug overdoses have declined by more than 20 percent. But too many of our neighbors continue to fall victim to opioid abuse and ending this epidemic remains a top priority.
As district attorney, I have cracked down on dealers, implemented innovative educational programs in our schools and dedicated unprecedented resources to prevent addiction and provide treatment. My office funded an expansion of Maryhaven’s New Hope Center to open New York’s first 24/7 drug crisis center. It works to bridge the treatment gap that exists between an overdose victim’s release from the emergency room and their placement in long-term treatment. Rather than facing complexities of the healthcare bureaucracy, addicts are given care until a plan for long-term medically-assisted treatment is established. Since we began this partnership, more than 2,600 people have received lifesaving treatment.
A single overdose is too many, and we will continue to collaborate with our community and law enforcement partners to build upon the progress we’ve made combating this scourge that continues to devastate so many Nassau families.
Herald: Crime has declined substantially in Nassau County. What will you do to maintain and possibly reduce it further?
McQuade: While crime has generally declined in many areas, other types of crime have risen. Also, contributing to this apparent drop in crime has been questionable treatment of serious cases. For example, Jennifer Gross who burned down a house, which killed an older man. She is an example of someone that received a slap on the wrist by Singas due to her overly progressive values, which led to the death of said innocent older man. It’s indicative that the attitude of the Democratic NYS legislation is infiltrating the DA’s politicized office.
I’d also like to mention that the national crime rate has gone down overall, so to simply be on trend with that is not something to brag about. The crime rate was dropping before Singas took office. For Singas to think of numbers before people is also very dehumanizing, a statistic won’t bring back those who are hurt by crime every single day.
To further reduce crime, I would focus on the areas that have climbing rates still. I believe a wider use of alternative courts will help treat root causes of crime as well administer justice. I also believe there are benefits in the concept of community policing. I would never be satisfied nor even take full credit for excellent enforcement and changing demographics. I am fully bilingual and will have the greatest advantage of any district attorney in the past regarding communicating with a large demographic of the community, which is often misunderstood and not authentically represented.
Singas: On my watch, and with the help of our outstanding law enforcement partners, Nassau has become the safest big county in New York state. As New York enters a new era of criminal justice, the DA’s office needs experienced leadership to ensure that we continue the progress we’ve made.
It’s not enough to just be tough on crime, we need to continue our strategy of implementing smart strategies to prevent crime. That means keeping gangs out of our schools while also targeting their top leadership. It means prosecuting high level drug offenders while helping those struggling with addiction get the treatment they need, and it means continuing to hold public officials who victimize the taxpayers accountable, regardless of their party or position.
My record makes clear that what we are doing is working, and I ask for your vote to continue this progress.