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Government & Politics

Cacace, Wagstaff Square Off in Dem Primary for Westchester DA

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June 19, 2024

By Rick Pezzullo—

Only two candidates are actively running in the June 25 Democratic primary for Westchester District Attorney.

Susan Cacace, a retired county court judge, was the choice of the county’s Democratic Committee and was endorsed by current District Attorney Mimi Rocah.

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“Experience matters, especially the right kind,” Cacace said. “With over 30 years as a prosecutor and judge, I will come to the office fully prepared to lead. Beyond my extensive experience prosecuting and overseeing criminal cases, I have built strong relationships with countless people across the county. I plan to leverage these relationships to create a community-centric, transparent office focused on safety.”

William Wagstaff, a civil rights attorney, received the endorsement of Adeel Mirza, a former prosecutor in the District Attorney’s Office who pulled out of the race earlier this month but will remain on the ballot.

“I’m bringing life and career experiences unlike any candidate in the history of the Westchester District Attorney’s Office to affect that change we need,” Wagstaff said. “I will make the DA’s office a vehicle for positive change with my fresh perspective and broad experience from both sides of the courtroom.”

Cacace served as an assistant district attorney for Westchester from 1989 to 2003. She was elected as a county court judge in 2005 and retired in December 2023. As a judge, she was assigned to preside over the Sex Offense Part in 2010 where she was responsible for handling all felony sex crimes throughout all phases of their prosecution in County Court.

During a June 4 League of Women Voters debate on Zoom, Cacace, who worked as both a defense lawyer and a prosecutor for 16 years, said the District Attorney’s Office Sex Crimes Bureau is overworked and needs more resources.

During that same forum, Wagstaff said he has “been victimized by the system.” He also said his wife is a survivor of domestic violence.

“I have been the recipient of unfair treatment,” he said. “I have been on the front line fighting against discrimination of people in all walks of life. I have been a champion of fighting for the rights for all. “Westchester needs a district attorney who will be serious about safety. Someone who will prioritize protecting our communities and standing up for victims, while at the same time recognizing that our system does not always lead to just outcomes.”

Wagstaff said he has served as a Special Prosecutor for police disciplinary hearings in Mount Vernon. If elected district attorney, he vows to prosecute serious crimes like gun violence, gun activity, domestic violence and child abuse and would hold everyone in the criminal justice system to the same standard, including the police.

“I’m ready to meet the moment and ensure a more equitable, transparent, and effective legal system; delivering transformative change to make all our diverse communities fairer, safer, and stronger as your next DA,” he said.

Cacace stressed she has spent her career pursuing criminal justice and is the most qualified person to succeed Rocah.

“It’s not for someone to learn on the job,” she remarked. “I want to use my experience to make Westchester a safe place for everyone to live and address the problems occurring in Westchester County. I have shown compassion for those who have been led astray.”

Early voting is underway and will continue until June 23.

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