Breaking Down the S.I. District Attorney Race

Where the Republican and Democrat Disagree

By Clifford Michel

Joan Illuzzi

Illuzzi, a political newcomer, is the Republican candidate for Staten Island district attorney. Illuzzi was an assistant district attorney in the Manhattan DA’s office for 27 years, her highest profile work being the Etan Patz case.

As a prosecutor, Illuzzi was chief of the hate crime unit and was a senior trial counsel who investigated homicides along other high-profile felonies.

Plan to combat drug abuse on Staten Island

In a comprehensive plan, Illuzzi said that as DA she would coordinate city, state, and federal law enforcement to intercept drugs at major entrance points on Staten Island.

Illuzzi also said that she’d leverage technology used by the NYPD such as license plate readers.

The campaign said that it would partner with grassroots groups and trace drugs and illegal money to their source.

Plan to aid senior citizens

Illuzzi promised to appoint an assistant district attorney who would specialize in crimes against senior citizens to the District Attorney office’s Special Victims Bureau. The appointed ADA would also work with the NYPD and be responsible for reaching out to senior facilities, organizations, and clubs.

To deter criminals from targeting seniors, Illuzzi said in an October 26 press conference that she would use the “hate crime statute” of the New York State penal law to prosecute those who target seniors.

Drug hotline service

If elected, Illuzzi would have the support of many of Staten Island’s elected officials, who are also overwhelmingly Republican.

Assemblyman Joe Borelli, who is running unopposed for City Council this November has already promised his support.

City Council Members receive $400,000 annually to spend, with discretion, in their district and Borelli has pledged to fund a hotline service so Staten Islanders can call in drug activity.

Borelli estimated that the hotline would cost somewhere between $5,000 and $10,000.

On gun control

“I do believe that the gun crimes that we have seen are the result of mental illness,” Illuzzi said during a debate at the College of Staten Island, sponsored by the Staten Island Advance and NY1. “So that’s something that we should be addressing rather than increasing restrictions on legitimate law-abiding people.”

On the District Attorney office’s budget

“Staten Island has 3.3 percent of the crime, that’s why we get 3.3 percent of the total budget. It’s that simple,” Illuzzi said during the debate.

On her opponent

Illuzzi’s campaign has attacked McMahon on several accounts.

Illuzzi’s campaign pointed out that McMahon voted to cut funding to animal services while in the City Council, which he has promised to prioritize.

“After he voted for devastating cuts to city animal shelters and adoption services, it’s absurd that Mike McMahon now expects voters to believe that he’ll be tough on animal abuse,” Illuzzi’s campaign spokesman Nick Iacono said in a statement. “These devastating cuts forced shelters to reduce services, making it harder for neglected and abused animals to find a loving home for adoption…a major setback to the very cause he now claims to care about.”

Illuzzi’s campaign also took a swipe at McMahon after he called for more funds from City Hall, citing a 2002 vote to cut funding from the Staten Island DA’s office:

“In an attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of Staten Islanders, McMahon is calling on City Hall to increase funding for the Staten Island DA office,” Iacono said in a statement. “Meanwhile, when McMahon was in the best position to increase funding for our DA office as a City Councilman, he voted with de Blasio to slash the budget for our own Staten Island District Attorney’s office by over 10 percent.”

Michael McMahon

McMahon is a former City Council Member and Congressman. He represented Staten Island in both capacities. He’s been politically inactive since he lost his seat in 2011 when the GOP took the House of Representatives.

Plan to combat drug abuse on Staten Island

Michael McMahon has also developed a plan to combat Staten Island’s drug epidemic, but some of the efforts were implemented by the office’s last DA, Dan Donovan.

McMahon said that he’d make the DA’s office’s Narcotics Bureau a permanent fixture and aggressively pursue drug traffickers.

McMahon’s plan also calls for expanded safe disposal of unused drugs, a task force in coordination with other states to stop incoming illegal prescription drugs, and promote drug prevention at an early age.

In addition, McMahon would create an asset forfeiture department to seize property, partner with advocacy groups, and advocate personally for insurance coverage for those in addiction treatment.

Plan to combat domestic violence

McMahon, a Democrat, said he would create a victims’ services unit to provide counseling, legal assistance for immigration and family court, and assistance for housing and Human Resources Administration assistance.

The former City Council Member said that he would review the Staten Island district attorney’s office to see if any policies need to be amended so that victims of domestic violence can feel more comfortable coming forward.

McMahon also said that with the borough’s Family Justice Center. Family Justice Centers provide a myriad of free services for domestic violence victims.

On gun control

During the televised debate, McMahon said that the solution to gun control “is to bring to Staten Island the methodologies and best practices that they use in the rest of the city of New York.”

On the District Attorney office’s budget

Michael McMahon launched a “fair share campaign,” urging City Hall and Mayor Bill de Blasio to provide the Staten Island DA’s office.

In a letter to de Blasio, McMahon cited Manhattan’s $98 million budget and staff of 975 to Staten Island’s $9.7 million budget and staff of 86

Community partnership unit

McMahon said that if elected, he would create a community partnership unit in order to reach out to community boards, civic organization, faith-based groups, advocacy groups, and youth groups.

McMahon also said that he’d like to build a “building bridges league.” The league would offer anti-bullying, anti-drug, and anti-gang services.

The league’s creation would hinge on whether or not McMahon’s “share fair campaign” is successful.

Animal abuse crimes

McMahon said that as District Attorney he would designate a unit exclusively for animal abuse cases.

During the August 13 press conference where McMahon made this announcement, he did mention that additional funds may be needed to create the unit.

On his opponent

McMahon’s campaign has attacked Illuzzi for not voting in the majority of city elections in the past 25 years.

“If Joan Illuzzi-Orbon was so upset with Mike McMahon…perhaps she should have showed up to vote in 2003 when the entire City Council was up for re-election—just one of the almost 30 elections where she failed to vote in the last 25 years,” McMahon’s former spokesperson Ashleigh Owens told POLITICO New York.


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