In a nail-biting victory result, 31-year-old public defender Tiffany Cabán won the Democratic primary election for District Attorney of Queens in New York. The Latina, born and raised in Queens, won last night in that local election by only a 1,090 votes, and her most prominent opponent isn’t conceding just yet. Melinda Katz, who was also running for Queens District Attorney, said there are still more than 3,000 absentee ballots that need to be considered. For now, however, Cabán, her constituents, and supporters are celebrating.
“They said I was too young,” Cabán said last night at her victory party at the Woodside club La Boom, according to The New York Times. “They said I didn’t look like a district attorney. They said we could not build a movement from the grass roots. They said we could not win.”
I am so incredibly proud of @CabanForQueens – and EVERY single person who showed up for this election today.
No matter how this ends, you all have stunned NY politics tonight.
When people come together, we can beat big money in elections. People power is no fluke. https://t.co/hsJx7p3REN
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) June 26, 2019
At the core of Cabán’s campaign was running on a ticket that spoke to the low-income community of color that for far too long were being sent to jail on misdemeanor charges and would remain there because they couldn’t afford bail. She also said she would not criminalize sex work and would work on providing better programs in schools.
“I ran because for too long too many communities in Queens haven’t had a fair shot in the criminal justice system,” Cabán said, according to the Times.
Her opponents — five other Democrats that also ran for this office — said Cabán was inexperienced, but Cabán pointed out that others running had never been inside a courtroom. She said she understood the system better than her opponents because she grew up in it.
“Growing up, I saw the overcriminalization of families [and] of communities that needed help,” Cabán told me for an interview in Teen Vogue. “I saw the difference between me and my clients, and it was only because of my father’s union job that I was able to have better resources. Recognizing that system, that’s the biggest thing that drove me.”
We have built the most powerful, the most diverse, the most beautiful coalition that a borough-wide race has ever seen. From formerly incarcerated folks to sex workers to undocumented immigrants to community-based organizations & activists to local & national elected officials.
— Tiffany Cabán (@tiffany_caban) June 26, 2019
Cabán’s victory can also be attributed to her loud and famous supporters that included Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, musician John Legend, presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders. While some people may see this local New York election doesn’t mean much to the overall state of the country, that is simply not true. New York is not only a Sanctuary City but a trendsetter in politics and the judicial system — as is California — which means Cabán’s new role and her plans to change the policies will have a significant impact on the rest of the country. Because if good things can happen in New York City, positive change is possible everywhere else.