By Kevin Deutsch and Sasha Gonzales
Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark appears poised to win re-election this Fall: The incumbent prosecutor was the only candidate to file a petition with the city’s Board of Elections ahead of Thursday’s deadline, Bronx Justice News has learned.
No Democrats filed to challenge Clark in the June 25 Democratic primary, records show, nor have any Republicans filed paperwork to run in the Nov. 5 general election as of Monday, a Board of Elections spokesperson said.
The Bronx Democratic Party formally endorsed Clark last month. The GOP’s Bronx party chair did not respond to requests for comment.
Clark, the first African-American woman to be elected District Attorney in New York State, could still face opposition from candidates unaffiliated with the major parties. But incumbent city DA’s routinely run unopposed.
The filing deadline for independent nominating petitions is May 28.
Clark soundly defeated challenger Robert Siano, an attorney who ran on the Republican and Conservative lines, in the November 2015 election, winning more than 85 percent of votes cast.
She became the Democratic nominee just six weeks before her victory, when predecessor Robert Johnson – the longest serving DA in borough history – announced he would leave office to seek a judgeship.
Johnson had already won the Democratic primary, which meant his party got to handpick Clark as his replacement without input from voters.
Good government groups criticized the party for a perceived lack of transparency. But party officials defended the process, noting that no one had filed to run against Johnson, and thus voters were not deprived of a choice of candidates.
Clark, a lifelong Bronxite who grew up in the Soundview Houses, began her legal career as an assistant district attorney in the DA’s office. She served as a Supervising ADA in the Narcotics Bureau and the Deputy Chief of the Criminal Court Bureau before leaving the office for her first judgeship in 1999.
She has served as Associate Justice for the State Supreme Court Appellate Division, First Department; State Supreme Court Justice in the Bronx; and Criminal Court Judge in the Bronx and Manhattan.
No Challengers, But Campaign Has Revved Up
Clark’s campaign has launched a website touting her accomplishments as DA, boasting she’s “transformed the Bronx DA’s office to reform criminal justice and create a fairer system that works for all Bronx families.”
The committee to elect the DA also distributed a glossy flier to Bronx voters in March, noting that Clark has ended “cash bail for most non-violent offenses” and “extended early discovery policy,” while also establishing a conviction integrity unit and public integrity bureau.
Clark’s campaign manager, Democratic district leader Marjorie Velazquez, told Bronx Justice News Monday that Clark “has built a long list of accomplishments with her fairness and justice agenda in her first term,” including the launching of an Alternatives to Incarceration Bureau, a domestic violence complaint room that provides services to victims, and a warrant forgiveness program that’s cleared warrants for 160,000 Bronx residents.
“DA Clark will continue engaging the residents of the Bronx through town halls and other local community events to build on her record of success and reform while making the Bronx safer and more just,” Velazquez said.
Clark has also been the subject of criticism during her first term.
Sergeants Benevolent Association President Ed Mullins last year called for her to be removed from office, as police union officials questioned Clark’s competence and blasted her for prosecuting an NYPD sergeant and captain.
Mullins’ criticism followed allegations made by a suspended crime analyst in the DA’s office, who claimed sex and drinking was rampant among DA employees during work hours.
Clark, who with her top staff met with Bronx police commanders at the DA’s Office last month, is part of a law enforcement family. Her husband is longtime NYPD Detective Eaton “Ray” Davis; her brother, Daniel Clark-El , is a Senior Rackets Detective Investigator in the Manhattan DA’s Office; and her sister-in-law, Paula Davis, works as a secretary in the Bronx DA’s Office, according to campaign finance disclosure filings.
Donations from Labor, Law, Developers
Clark’s campaign has received money from a broad cross-section of donors, including high-profile politicians, civil rights leaders, business figures, real estate developers, and Bronx-based defense attorneys, among others, donation records show.
Among her campaign’s top contributors, the records show:
- John Fish, the Chairman and CEO of Suffolk Construction and a political power player once deemed Boston’s most powerful person. Suffolk does business in New York City, where it is looking to expand its footprint. The company, which recently hosted a fundraiser for Mayor Bill de Blasio in Boston, has drawn scrutiny for previous political donations, according to a report published this week in the New York Times. The Federal Election Commission fined Suffolk $34,000 for donating $200,000 to a political action committee supporting Hillary Clinton, Priorities USA, while it was working as a federal contractor in West Point, The Times reported. The contributions were returned by Priorities USA. Fish has contributed $17,500 to Clark’s election committee, records show. Suffolk Construction has also donated directly to her campaign.
- Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie’s political committee, “Speaker Heastie PAC.” Heastie, a longtime support of Clark’s, introduced her the night she won the 2015 election. His PAC has donated $15,000.
- Kathleen McGillycuddy, the first woman to chair the Boston College Board of Trustees. Clark, who earned her bachelor’s degree in political science at the school, also sits on the board. McGillycuddy has donated $10,000.
- Boston power broker John “Jack” Connors Jr., who is a trustee associate on the school’s board. Connors formerly headed Boston’s largest advertising agency and was chairman of the board of Partners HealthCare. He has donated $5,000.
- John LaMattina, former President of Pfizer Global Research and Development and Senior Vice President of Pfizer Inc. Also a trustee associate at Boston College, LaMattina has donated $2,000.
- John Catsimatidis, chairman, CEO and president of Red Apple Group. The former mayoral candidate donated $5,000.
- Real estate magnet and Prestige Properties chief executive Sam Shalem, who does business in the Bronx. He has donated $1,000.
- A number of labor unions have also donated to Clark’s campaign, including the United Federation of Teachers, the Transport Workers Union, the Correction Officers Benevolent Association, and the New York State Court and Supreme Court Officers Associations.
- Other notable donors include defense attorneys Samuel Braverman and Murray Richman – both of whom routinely go up against Clark’s prosecutors; the grocery delivery company Fresh Direct, which unveiled a new facility in the South Bronx last year; Bronx based developer Simone Management Group, which has endured past controversies; and NAACP New York president Hazel Dukes.