As we turn the page on one of the toughest years in US history, we can and must begin to focus on what’s ahead. Every New Yorker understands that our city must overcome a number of big hurdles to restore its glory. Law and order is the biggest one.
Catchy slogans and cool logos aren’t going to restore the thousands of vacant storefronts; good wishes won’t motivate many of the 65 million tourists who graced our city in 2019 to return.
The pandemic has been extremely damaging to our city’s economy, affecting all aspects of it, including many we don’t learn about in the news.
More than 1,000 restaurants have been forced to shutter, and the figure continues to grow. The theater industry has suffered similar damage, with more than 40 theaters closing and some 51,000 employees losing their jobs.
These two industries are foundations of our city. To revitalize them, and the city as a whole, we will need sound policies to stimulate growth, quality leadership able to make tough choices and, perhaps most important, a functioning legal system that ensures people feel safe investing their hard-earned time and money here.
Violent crime is up in Gotham, and the revitalization of industries like dining and theater goes hand in hand with safety. While New Yorkers stayed home the past months, they felt a grim shift in their city’s basic security: more shootings, more than 450 homicides, a rise in subway crime, all yielding the Big Apple’s bloodiest year in nearly a decade.
We need policies that allow New Yorkers to feel safe while returning to their normal lives. Safety is, and has been, the cornerstone of so much of our success and will continue to remain a cornerstone in the post-pandemic future. The Manhattan district attorney will have a lot to say about what that future looks like.
Our next DA will set the tone as to how we will approach our collective safety and security. In many ways, it’s the most important election of the many being contested later this year. In 2021, we have an opportunity to elect a DA who has a solid plan to not just keep our streets safe, but to reinvigorate our suffering economy and restore greatness to what the late Mayor David Dinkins called our “beautiful mosaic.”
The blueprint for encouraging growth has already been given to us by those who have led us previously. In short, we’ve been down this road before — and as someone who grew up in New York in the 1970s and ’80s, I’ve seen firsthand how New Yorkers can come together to transform our city. We must do that once again.
Attacking crime, punishing perpetrators, protecting residents and the investments made by businesses in this city have led to record employment, tourism and jobs. The rising tide has to lift all ships — not just the ones that garner headlines for local politicians. In the past, we’ve overlooked certain industries, but this time we must do better.
The core principle of the DA’s office is to ensure justice and to pursue policies that protect our citizens and businesses. It’s paramount we send a powerful signal to those thinking of investing or moving here, or even those contemplating whether or not to return, that they will have a safe, sound place to live, work and invest.
This concept doesn’t have to oppose criminal-justice reform. Many of those running for DA have focused exclusively on reform. We need to breathe with both lungs: reform and safety.
We must be fair and impartial in the pursuit of justice and make sure that everyone belongs. But we must also telegraph a clear message that crime and corruption have no place in our society.
People who break the law or injure and hurt our citizens need to be punished, so that we can all thrive. I hope as we conduct this campaign, all my fellow candidates will join me in discussing what we can do to ensure the elements necessary for our resurgence will be protected and defended against lawlessness and unaccountability.
Liz Crotty, a candidate for Manhattan district attorney, has served both as prosecutor and defense attorney in the city.