By Marc Fliedner
The social media-driven movement for my write-in candidacy was born when several urgent concerns about the sorry state of the Manhattan criminal justice system blew up all at once: (1) the failure to provide women with genuine agency when subjected to sexual assault; (2) the ability of the wealthy, privileged, and connected to buy their way out of criminal prosecution while the rest of us face harsh punishment; (3) anger at a political system that does not provide voters with qualified alternatives to the entrenched incumbents who stay and stay because they impress the party with their ability to fundraise; and (4) an acknowledgement that the criminal court system has unfairly discriminated against some of us for generations because of our color, culture, gender (including gender identity and gender expression), sexual orientation, disability status, or economic status. New Yorkers are simply saying, “Enough. We can do better, for ourselves and for each other.”
We’re seeking leaders with integrity now because we understand that such leaders will demand integrity in the process. It’s humbling that many folks see hope for something entirely different in me, but it doesn’t shock me. My values simply align with theirs. I am deliberate each day, like so many, about keeping my moral and ethical compass firmly in hand. While the rest of the City buzzes with the energy of those committed to remarkable work, my particular mission has been that of advocate—a voice for the temporarily voiceless, a representative for individuals fighting for the largest measure of justice that the system will provide. I have little interest in money beyond the necessary and minimal interest in attention. I’m finding this write-in movement a bit surreal.
Here’s my simple promise: I will never treat the survivors of crime or those charged with crime as faceless chess pieces in acts of political gamesmanship. I will always judge a case by its merits under the law rather than by its political consequences for me or others. I will dissect this broken system to identify its inequities and demand solutions, all while sharing my work in this process with you—the invested, the People.
What are some of the reforms I’m passionate about? Well, it’s time to end “broken windows” prosecutions that too often criminalize the poor and unfairly impact people of color. We have to stop feeding this for-profit prison industrial complex by crafting non-jail sentences where mental health, substance abuse, and other services will constructively address the cause of criminal conduct. I abhor the entrenched practice of holding people in jail before conviction simply because they can’t raise cash bail. When folks tell me that they fear the police because of abuses, I understand the need for police to be held legally accountable. These priorities reflect my personal values, and I hear that they reflect yours as well.