THE BRONX — Bronx voters are on the verge of choosing the borough's first new District Attorney in almost 30 years.
The campaign controversy started as soon as outgoing Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson announced in September that he was planning to step down from his position to pursue a judgeship.
However, he waited to make this announcement until after he had already won the Democratic primary, meaning party leaders, not voters, got to choose his replacement on the ballot, a process that good government advocates have harshly criticized for its lack of transparency.
The Democrats went with Clark, an appellate judge who worked in the Bronx DA's office from 1986 to 1999, while the Republicans chose Siano, a former attorney with the Administration for Children's Services who now works as a solo practitioner on criminal and civil cases.
Siano is largely viewed as the underdog in the race, given The Bronx's status as a Democratic stronghold, but he said he was confident heading into the election.
"We’re really feeling good about tomorrow," he said. "I think we really reached a lot of people, a lot of people that are upset and want change. We’re really hoping that tomorrow we pull off an upset."
Clark has faced strong criticism about the way she was selected as the nominee for District Attorney but has consistently defended herself, saying that she did not create the nominating process and that her candidacy would not make her beholden to the Democratic Party or reluctant to investigate members for corruption.
Siano stressed that he had respect for both Johnson and Clark but encouraged people angry about the selection process to give his candidacy a closer look.
"If you’re upset, then take a look at me," he said.
Clark promised to establish a CompStat-style system in the office to help hold staffers accountable for handling cases quickly and create a Public Integrity Unit focused on uncovering corruption at public agencies, and Siano plans to consider expanding drug courts for certain defendants to help reduce the borough's case backlog.
Clark's decisions as an appellate judge included ruling that a reporter had to testify in court for a case about the notorious mass shooting at a midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises" and affirming that wealthy philanthropist Brooke Astor's son Anthony Marshall had been swindling her out of her estate.
"I'm greatly looking forward to the opportunity to provide The Bronx with a District Attorney they can be proud of," Clark said in a statement, "and I encourage everyone to exercise their right to vote in tomorrow's elections."
Voters can find information about polling sites and hours for the Nov. 3 election at the city's Board of Elections website.