Gonzalez joins a crowded field for the seat that already includes Ama Dwimoh, Patricia Gatling, Vincent Gentile, Marc Fliedner and Anne Swern.
His announcement came with ambitious plans to vacate summons warrants over ten years old and expand immigration services.
Gonzalez was born and raised in Williamsburg before he moving to East New York with his mother in the 1980s. It was there that his view of the city’s public safety system was shaped.
“Brooklyn then was a different place than the Brooklyn we know and love today,” Gonzalez said. “It was the height of the crack cocaine epidemic and East New York had one of the highest crime rates in the entire country.
“At an early age, I learned the importance of public safety and how it impacts every aspect of our daily lives,” he added.
Gonzalez recalled feeling unsafe and peeking around corners before walking down the block, knowing that on every street there could be danger.
“I attended funerals for friends and family whose lives were cut too short by violence,” he added. “I saw good kids that I knew turn to the drug game because that what was so prevalent in our neighborhood. I saw them get arrested and cycled through the criminal justice system without an opportunity to rehabilitate or get their lives back on track.”
His first job was as an assistant district attorney in Brooklyn in 1995. When District Attorney Ken Thompson passed away after a battle with cancer last year, Gonzalez was elevated to the top post. He wants to continue the legacy of his predecessor.
“It has been a privilege for me to have served 22 years the people of Brooklyn,” Gonzalez said. “And to have worked hand-in-hand with Thompson to make the Brooklyn DA's office a model for what an effective and progressive prosecutor's office should be.
“I'm here today because I want four more years to continue the work Thompson and I started,” he added.
Gonzalez touted the office’s work taking guns and drugs off the streets, but added that continuing Thompson's legacy was about more than making arrests. It’s about reforming a criminal justice system that denied equal justice for many.
Last week, Gonzalez announced the expansion of the office’s Immigration Unit by hiring two staff attorneys to help protect immigrant New Yorkers from deportation over low-level offenses.
He also announced they will be taking Thompson’s program that allows people with old, low-level summonses to come forward and avoid being taken to central booking even further by vacating summons warrants that are over ten years old.
“Vacating these warrants will help free up law enforcement to focus on real threats to public safety,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez said he is also working hard to reduce incarceration rates.
“I’ve directed my office to view jail for young people as a last resort, not a first option,” he said. “We’re never going to incarcerate ourselves to safety, and we’re never going to change our communities by only putting people in prison.”
Gonzalez has already received key endorsements from Public Advocate Letitia James, 32BJ SEIU and Lu-Shawn Thompson, the wife of Ken Thompson.
“When you elected my husband, he selected a team that would help him execute his vision,” Thompson said. “At the top of his team was Eric Gonzalez.
“In his waning days, he asked Eric to fulfill his vision,” she added. “By supporting Eric Gonzalez, you are helping to ensure my husband’s legacy of fair, even-handed justice for all.”