Jumaane Williams wins special Public Advocate election

Cheered him on: Williams supporters, including his Deputy Chief of Staff Farah Louis, far left in necklace, Flatbush Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte, center, and Fort Greene Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo, far right, celebrated his win.
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Flatbush Councilman Jumaane Williams will be the city’s next Public Advocate, after claiming victory in Tuesday’s special election that featured a whopping 17 candidates battling for the office.

Williams came out on top after winning some 33 percent of votes, according to the New York City Board of Elections, which reported he earned some 133,809 out of a total 402,778 ballots cast with more than 98 percent of precincts counted by Wednesday afternoon.

The Brooklyn pol handily beat his second-place competitor, Councilman Eric Ulrich (R–Queens), who won some 77,026 votes, roughly 19 percent of all cast, according to the board.

Williams celebrated his win at an East Flatbush cafe, where he spoke about the office’s important role of holding city leaders accountable, and rebuked legislation to abolish the position that his colleague Councilman Kalman Yeger (D-Midwood) introduced last year.

“The public advocate — the people’s advocate — is a role that I am incredibly excited to fill, and one that is crucial to our city. I know that there are some who have sought to get rid of it — and now, I’m sure there are powerful people who want it gone even more. But we aren’t going anywhere. Instead, we’re going to hold the powerful accountable. The mayor, the police commissioner, the governor, the big-money interests — we are watching, and we will speak out,” the pol said.

Williams’s win comes after his several previous unsuccessful bids for higher office, including two runs for Council speaker in 2013 and 2017, and his campaign for the state office of lieutenant governor last year, when he lost to incumbent Lieutenant Gov. Kathy Hochul in the September primary election despite winning the majority of votes cast within in the five boroughs.

The pol, while delivering his victory speech, teared up as he addressed his past mental-health struggles and the challenge of overcoming stereotypes facing young black men, calling his win a success despite those obstacles.

“I’ve been in therapy for the past three years. I want to say that publicly, I want to say that to black men who are listening,” Williams said. “I know there’s a young black boy somewhere who’s young, cries himself to sleep sometimes — nobody knows what he’s going through, and this world tells you that you have to hide it and can’t talk about it. But I’ve got something to say to that young man: his name is Jumaane Williams and I’m the public advocate for New York City.”

Candidates in the public-advocate race — the city’s first nonpartisan election — ran on their own party lines, with Williams campaigning on the “It’s Time Let’s Go” line and a platform of affordable-housing, criminal-justice, and immigration reform.

In addition to Ulrich, Williams’s competitors included former Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who came in third earning some 44,158 votes, Bronx Assemblyman Michael Blake, Bushwick Councilman Rafael Espinal, activist and journalist Nomiki Konst, attorney Dawn Smalls, and others — many of whom battled it out in heated debates, including two televised forums where participating candidates argued about issues such as the beleaguered public-transit system, Nycha, affordable housing, the now-dead Amazon deal, and expanding the public advocate’s oversight ability.

Mayor DeBlasio earlier this year called the special election to fill the watchdog seat vacated by former Public Advocate Letitia “Tish” James, who left office to become New York State attorney general in January.

And in addition to keeping city officials and agencies in check, Williams, as public advocate, is now first in line to succeed DeBlasio — a chain of command that could come into play if Hizzoner, who held the seat before being elected mayor, next year chooses to leave office and mount a presidential bid before his second term concludes in 2021.

But the public advocate–elect said he would not follow Hizzoner’s footsteps and use the office as a launchpad for the top office in City Hall.

“To the mayor, I’m not running for your job. But I’m going to work with you to make sure we work on behalf of the people,” he said.

Williams, however, could only serve as public advocate for 10 months. A partisan primary will be held as soon as June, followed by a November general election to determine who will finish out James’s second term, which also ends in 2021.

Reach reporter Kevin Duggan at (718) 260–2511 or by e-mail at Follow him on Twitter @kduggan16.
Updated 1:11 pm, February 27, 2019
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Reasonable discourse

Gargoyle from Newkirk Plaza says:
Why do we need to vote so often? Must we now have another primary election and another general election for Public Advocate this year? Why couldn't the mayor with consent of the City Council have appointed a new Public Advocate to fill out Letitia James' term? And while we're at it, why not lengthen the terms of US congresspeople to four years, voted for in non-presidential years?
Feb. 26, 2019, 11:49 pm
Flag says:
Will he now stand for the Pledge of Allegiance?
Feb. 27, 2019, 12:33 am
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
He got my vote! Congratulations, sir!
Feb. 27, 2019, 8:05 am
John from Bay Ridge says:
Millions wasted on this utterly useless position.
Feb. 27, 2019, 9:05 am
Ethyline Poolington from Old Lady says:
Jumanji Williams is bringing da funky back to city hall! Finally, a Public Advocate from the streets! From da hood!
Feb. 27, 2019, 10:05 am
Chrissy Blazey Fordy from Insane Asylum says:
Not a very diverse group in that picture now is it.
Feb. 27, 2019, 1:01 pm
Homey from Crooklyn says:
Abolish this useless position it's a government welfare program for bureaucrat politicians
Feb. 27, 2019, 1:10 pm
Wow. Now Jumaane Williams needs to get arrested for election law violations about recording, taping, filming etc. at a voting site. Thank you WABC 7...
Feb. 27, 2019, 1:27 pm
and by the way... He is an instigator with an arrest record...
Feb. 27, 2019, 1:58 pm
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
IAMRIGHTAGAIN from ALL5BOROS has a severe case of Jumaane derangement syndrome. Man up and don't be such a sore loser, the people have spoken.
Feb. 27, 2019, 3:39 pm
Real Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
At least Jumaane isn’t a car hating fanatic like the rest of the loons spewing trans alt talking points in the debates. It’s also promising to see that he is willing to evict deadbeats like vision zero when they don’t pay their rent. He will be an ok mayor as far as dealing with car owners goes.
Feb. 27, 2019, 9:40 pm
Nee says:
What does the public want? Only the public advocate knows.
Feb. 27, 2019, 10:36 pm
Alexandria “Momo” O-C from Da Bronx says:
Where da Latina? Gonna boycott til the dude bolts. Like Amazon. Socialista mofos!
Feb. 28, 2019, 7:09 am
Real Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
We also desperately need congestion pricing. Too many lazy, self entitled motorists driving SUVs with no passengers.
Feb. 28, 2019, 10:52 am
Real Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
You think I want some pathetic troll that hasn’t had an original thought in their life in my SUV? Hell no, I ride alone. Time for you cheapskates to pay up for your subway rides. The rest of us are tired of subsidizing your almost free rides. Subway fares should be closer to $5 a ride, and will be soon.
Feb. 28, 2019, 10:58 am
Real Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
That's why I'm the problem. Stupidity and self entitlement at it's finest folks.
Feb. 28, 2019, 11:05 am
Real Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
I ride alone because I have no friends/life.
Feb. 28, 2019, 11:23 am
Real Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
Go cry to the Long Island Dems that will kill your congestion pricing dreams. Enjoy your $4 subway rides this summer!!
Feb. 28, 2019, 11:25 am
Real Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
I wish I could afford to ride the subway, or air conditioning, or power windows, or an SUV from this century, or to live anywhere besides my mother's attic. Well, it's not really an attic. It's the crawlspace above the garage.
Feb. 28, 2019, 11:33 am
Juman from Crooklyn says:
Don't understand why they have to pose with their big mouths open.
Feb. 28, 2019, 11:38 am
Real Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
Juman from Crooklyn, As a mouthbreathing Neanderthal, I take offense to that remark.
Feb. 28, 2019, 11:42 am
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
This mental patient impersonater has to be the most easily triggered snowflake out there. Here come ten more comments written by what looks like an eight year old.
Feb. 28, 2019, 2:25 pm
Rashida Shaklifa Williams from Bk says:
To all the racists saying my brother is not qualified for this job - he cam from the streets to get where he is! You think that because he was a drug dealer he can’t do no good? You think because he never finished high school that he can’t read? He played “da game”! He read “da rules”. And now he gonna lay down “da law” - hood style!
Feb. 28, 2019, 6:01 pm
Juman from Crooklyn says:
Henry, you're a schmuck. GFYS!
Feb. 28, 2019, 10:14 pm

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