In last Tuesday’s primary, longtime incumbent Charles Hynes ran for his seventh term as Brooklyn’s District Attorney against Ken Thompson, former Brooklyn federal prosecutor. But many voters in Greenpoint couldn’t remember the names of the two candidates running for District Attorney, let alone know that Hynes has held the seat since 1989.
“I didn’t vote for the D.A. race because I didn’t do enough homework,” said Kurt Cavanaugh, who works for the Department of Parks & Recreation for District 1 in Brooklyn.
The lack of interest didn’t seem to bother Hynes, at least not on the morning of the primary. At 8:45 a.m., he and his wife, Patricia, arrived at the Shore Hill Housing polling center in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn to vote. Greeted by only a few faithful followers, 78-year-old Hynes was in good spirits as he walked arm-in-arm with Patricia to cast a vote for himself as district attorney. A spokesman said on Tuesday morning that the campaign was confident that Hynes would win.
He didn’t. In the final tally, Thompson obtained 55 percent of the votes compared to Hynes’s 45 percent, and for the first time in 24 years, Brooklyn will welcome a new District Attorney.
But if voter sentiment at the polls is any indicator, it won’t matter much for many Greenpointers. In fact, most of the voters approached on Tuesday morning outside the polling station at Pete Mc Guinness Senior Center in Greenpoint said they didn’t know much about Hynes or the race.
For example, Adam Lalley, a Greenpoint resident in his mid 30s, said that he relied solely on one pamphlet to help him decide because he doesn’t watch television. And the pamphlet, the NYC Votes Voter Guide for Brooklyn Council Districts 33-40, which he received in the mail, didn’t include anything on the district attorney candidates, Lalley said, adding that he didn’t feel comfortable blindly voting for a candidate he knew nothing about.
But other voters did just that–they blindly voted. Maureen Cavanaugh also said she knew nothing about the candidates or their politics so she randomly chose Ken Thompson. As did Cecelia Post, owner of The Fowler Arts Collective in Greenpoint. Others said they just chose the name listed first on the ballot for district attorney.
When asked how she voted in the district attorney race, Greenpoint resident Erin Knitis initially laughed saying it was the least-talked about race in the primary, but she admitted to casting her vote for Ken Thompson.
“We need new blood. I don’t like to see incumbents in office for a long time,” Knitis said.
David Leyden, a practicing attorney, also took a special interest in the race. Leyden said he even watched a debate on NY1 between the two candidates that led him to vote for the incumbent.
“It didn’t seem to me that his [Hynes's] opponent has much experience. He’s not used to running a big office like the D.A,” said Leyden. “Hynes is far from perfect but he knows what he’s doing. Let’s stick with what we’ve got.”
Although Hynes publicly denied running again in November on the Republican ticket, in recent days sources close to the District Attorney say that he is considering it.