NEW YORK, NY — Voters in Manhattan will see eight names on the Democratic ballot and one on the Republican when they vote in the June 22 primary election for Manhattan District Attorney.
One of those names will be Thomas Kenniff, the only Republican candidate running for the position, a criminal defense attorney, and an Iraq War veteran. He is running to succeed Cyrus Vance Jr., who said in mid-March that he will not seek reelection.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s race is not ranked-choice voting.
Patch reached out to all candidates in the election to create these profiles. Kenniff’s responses are below.
Age (as of Election Day)
Manhattan District Attorney
Neighborhood of residence
Wife Emily, Daughters Emma (20) Madison (5) Parker (3) Ainsley (1)
Does anyone in your family work in politics or government?
Hofstra Law School, Juris Doctor, 2000, University of Rochester, BA, 1997
Previous or Current Elected or Appointed Office
Why are you seeking elective office?
I am running for District Attorney because I am appalled at the increase in crime and decline in quality of life in New York City. I believe this is the product of misguided progressive criminal justice policies, such as the disastrous bail reform bill and abandonment of proactive policing.
The single most pressing issue facing our (board, district, etc.) is _______, and this is what I intend to do about it.
The increase is violent crime. I will push to repeal the disastrous bail reform so that judges once again have the power to remove dangerous criminals from our streets and subways. I will also support the return of the NYPD’s plainclothes anti-crime whose primary mission was disrupting subway crime and getting illegal guns off our streets. Finally, I will fairly prosecute, but not abandon, the enforcement of quality of life offenses. Big leaks sink big ships, and history has proven that ignoring quality of life offenses, creates a permissive environment that leads to an increase in overall crime.
What are the critical differences between you and the other candidates seeking this post?
Nearly all my opponents support decriminalizing, de-policing and de-prosecuting. This is utterly wrong-headed and will put all innocent New Yorkers at risk.
If you are a challenger, in what way has the current board or officeholder failed the community (or district or constituency)
How do you think local officials performed in responding to the coronavirus? What if anything would you have done differently?
I have been on the frontline of COVID 19 response as an officer in the New York Army National Guard. I have been working at the Javit’s Center since last year, when established it as a hospital, and this year when it became the flagship vaccine site in the State. I think the government has done a lot of things right, but we now must focus on attracting business, residents and tourists back to our great city. We cannot do that if we can’t ensure the safety of all New Yorkers.
Describe the other issues that define your campaign platform.
As District Attorney, I will also emphasize rehabilitation over incarceration where appropriate, and improve the ability of our criminal justice system to identify and treat those defendants with mental health issues. I will also make it easier for defendants who have demonstrated a commitment to rehabilitation and a law-abiding life to obtain early sealing of their criminal records.
What accomplishments in your past would you cite as evidence you can handle this job?
I have twenty years of experience of both side of the criminal justice system, as a prosecutor and defense attorney. I served as the Chief Legal Assistance Officer with the 42nd Infantry Division in Tikrit, Iraq, creating a law office in a combat zone that covered a land area nearly the size of West Virginia, responsible for tens of thousands of soldiers.
The best advice ever shared with me was:
Believe half of what you see, and none of what you hear.
What else would you like voters to know about yourself and your positions?
I will always put public safety and fairness first!