By Dr. Amarnauth Samaroo
Last Wednesday, Queens Borough President, Melinda Katz, took time away from her busy holiday schedule to attend Assemblyman David Weprin’s Queens Democratic club holiday get together.
Ms. Katz, already into her second term as borough president, spoke passionately of her unerring commitment to serve the Queens community. BP Katz reminded the large, enthusiastic gathering that she will be running for the office of Queens District Attorney in 2019. Announcing her candidacy earlier this month, Katz, a Queens native and lifelong democrat, outlined her vision thus: “I’m running as a different type of district attorney. The DA’s job has to be making changes in legislation as well as investigating crime.”
In these troubled times with so many challenges facing our city, and our country, Queens County would be fortunate to have someone of the caliber of a Melinda Katz leading the office of the Queens DA. I first came to know of Melinda Katz’s passion for public service when I taught in the Forest Hills community in the mid-90s. At that time, Katz was serving in the State Assembly, and was always ready to lend a sympathetic ear, and work tirelessly to resolve the challenges facing our school community. She has been, and continues to be, a true friend and supporter of public school education. Born and raised in Queens, Katz is a product of our public school system. She earned her jurist doctorate from St. John’s University in Jamaica, Queens. Prior to that, Katz earned her undergraduate degree, summa cum laude, from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
During her tenure at St. John’s, Katz interned at the US Attorney’s Office, and Judge Michael Mukasey of the Southern District of New York. In the 90s while serving in the State Assembly, Katz authored and helped passed 16 laws, one of which included requiring that HMO’s provide women with direct access to gynecological services. Katz championed bills that increased penalties for various forms of domestic abuse, and sponsored and passed the historic Kendall’s Law that helps prosecutors pursue cases of long term, repeated child abuse. Elected Borough President in 2013, Melinda Katz distinguished herself as a tireless champion of Queens County, successfully addressing countless causes within the borough since taking office.
As borough president, Katz lauds the contributions of our immigrant community, attributing the many achievements of Queens County to its racial and cultural diversity. Recognizing and celebrating ethnic, cultural, and religious diversity has been one of the cornerstones of her administration. In 2014, BP Katz hosted an Iftar (breaking of the fast) ceremony at Borough Hall, and reminded us that, “we have 130 languages spoken in our schools”.
Indeed, throughout her 25-year career in politics, Katz has been a vocal and supportive voice for our immigrant community. And there is every reason to believe that if elected Queens DA, Melinda Katz will bring to the office that very same diligence, commitment, and uncompromising conviction that , thus far, have distinguished her entire career in politics.