Dan Quart, a life-long New Yorker who grew up in Washington Heights, has represented the 73rd district in the NY State Assembly for the past ten years. While his district is predominantly white and socioeconomically homogeneous, he became a leading voice for reforms in the criminal punishment system, including in efforts to decriminalize conduct that specifically targets BIPOC and the LGBTQ+ community. He championed bail and discovery reform, the repeal of the gravity knife statute and served on the Committee on Correction. Consistent with his legislative record, he has made decarceration the central tenant of his campaign. Quart has represented low-income clients in Midtown Community Court and in parole revocation hearings. These experiences have shaped his worldview, resulting in a platform that centers a reduction in both prosecution and incarceration as it seeks to redefine public safety.
Quart’s detailed knowledge of the interplay between the power of the legislature to change statutory schemes, the funding power of the city government in regards to police and prosecutions, and the broad discretionary power of the District Attorney is unique among the candidates. As District Attorney, he would use his platform to continue to advocate for reforms, guided by his experience as a legislator and knowledge of funding streams and the politics behind them, and to redefine public safety and reverse the harms of mass incarceration.
In our interview, Quart came prepared with statistics and plans on how he would divert cases out of criminal court and provide support and services to those in need. During his interview, he often expanded upon the decarceral premises of our questions, citing a plan that went steps further, and he defined success as “decarceration and [by] reducing the footprint both of the office and our footprint over and above mostly [of the] Black and brown men who by the numbers are in our courtrooms.” Quart wove an analysis of disproportionate racial impact into almost every answer and consistently demonstrated a commitment to eradicate prosecutions stemming from race-based stops. He understood the adversarial nature of the system, and raised constitutional and moral concerns about surveillance tactics and the rights of the accused. He is deeply critical of Vance and, despite being an outsider, seems to have a detailed blueprint for how to revamp the office, redefine public safety, and reduce the harm caused by the current system. He demonstrated an understanding of the power and limits of the office and presented a viable plan to implement his decarceral goals while remaining transparent and accountable to Manhattan residents, particularly those who have been most adversely affected by Vance.
We believe that, among the candidates, his vision for this borough and proven decarceral track record in the State Assembly, is one that would do the least amount of harm to Black and brown and low-income communities.