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William Wagstaff, renowned Civil Rights attorney and advocate, announces run for Westchester County District Attorney

Nov 20, 2023

William’s life experiences and journey to this point are unlike any candidate in the history of the Westchester District Attorney’s office.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                           



White Plains, N.Y. (November 20, 2023) – Today, William O. Wagstaff III, a respected attorney, proven civil rights advocate, steadfast social justice champion, and lifelong Democrat, announced his candidacy for Westchester County District Attorney.


Westchester needs a District Attorney 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. I bring a unique background and perspective that I believe would make me the kind of District Attorney that Westchester needs at this moment,” says William Wagstaff, who would become Westchester’s first Black DA.


William’s life experiences and journey to this point are unlike any candidate in the history of the Westchester District Attorney’s office.


Wagstaff has handled some of the area’s highest-profile civil rights cases; among his cases are lawsuits against the City of Poughkeepsie Police for using excessive force on teenage sisters, representation of a Hudson Valley Chapter of Black Lives Matter and its members who were victims of illegal police surveillance, a suit on behalf of the family of an unarmed man shot by New Rochelle police, and a recently settled suit against the City of New York for $2.25 Million for the death of a Riker’s Island detainee held in solitary confinement.


“As District Attorney, I will make Westchester County safer with integrity through the implementation of data-driven solutions for addressing gun violence, hate crimes, domestic violence, and property crime.”


Wagstaff has rolled out a robust Policy Plan with initiatives for:


  • Utilizing Data to Reduce Crime & Improve Quality of Life

  • Eradicating Hate Crimes & Protecting Targeted Communities

  • Encouraging Treatment of Mental Health Issues & Substance Use Disorder

  • Combating Elder Fraud and Abuse

  • Providing Support & Resources to Law Enforcement

  • Accounting for Consequences to Immigrants

  • Making Diversion the Rule

  • Addressing Racial Disparities

  • Charging with Restraint & Plea Bargaining Fairly

  • Promoting Restorative Justice


A Mount Vernon native, Wagstaff has served as the City of Mount Vernon’s Special Prosecutor for Police Discipline. In that role, he has held bad actors accountable but also supported law enforcement, recognizing that ensuring police are treated fairly is equally essential.


In addition to serving as Special Prosecutor, William serves as Special Counsel to Mount Vernon Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard and as Chairman of her Judicial Appointment Committee.


“My steadfast commitment to social justice and proven ability to deliver real results instead of rhetoric will make the District Attorney’s office a vehicle for the impactful change we need,” Wagstaff says.


William’s commitment to the community is equal to his commitment to justice; he co-sponsors an annual coat drive with Collective for a Cause in Yonkers, serves as Chair of the African American Men of Westchester Mentoring Committee, and is on the Board of Directors for the Legal Aid Society of Westchester.


William is a Pace Law School graduate and has his MBA from Fordham Business School. He is raising two great kids with his wife Christina.


Wagstaff’s civil rights advocacy, legal experience, and ability to effect change have earned him broad support across Westchester County as he begins his campaign for District Attorney; the campaign is well on its way to a healthy six-figure war chest by the January campaign finance filing. For more information, visit



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