New York City

One runoff left: Squadron vs. James for Public Advocate

Squadron kicks off runoff campaign at Brooklyn Borough Hall

September 16, 2013 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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Now that Democratic mayoral candidate Bill Thompson has stepped down, only one primary runoff still remains: the race for public advocate. Democrats will be going to the polls on October 1 to choose between two Brooklynites: state Senator Daniel Squadron and City Councilwoman Letitia James.

On Sunday, supporters joined Senator Squadron on the steps of Brooklyn Borough Hall to officially kick off his runoff campaign.

Squadron’s district extends through both Brooklyn and a piece of lower Manhattan, and supporters from both boroughs – and even the Bronx—showed up Sunday to pledge their support.

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Among them was former public advocate Mark Green, who called Squadron “Smart, dedicated, and tough. He takes on the big guys on behalf of average families.” Green said the budget of the public advocate is small, only roughly $2 million, but the office itself could be powerful – “a tugboat steering a supertanker.”

State Senator Adriano Espaillat (Manhattan/Bronx), said “Daniel has been a tireless champion for the New Yorkers who need one most: low-income families, immigrants, seniors, and so many others.”

Assemblywoman Joan Millman (Brooklyn Heights, Carroll Gardens, Park Slope) said Squadron “is able to cross the aisle, work with people from the other party and get legislation passed. He worked alongside others to make sure Long Island College Hospital (LICH) stays open; he’s keeping our Brooklyn public libraries open and not for profit. The Public Advocate can introduce legislation, and he’s very good at doing that, very creative and bright.”

State Senator Brad Hoylman (Chelsea) praised Squadron’s support for the rights of LGBTQ citizens, and Virginia Kee, founder of the Chinese American Planning Council applauded his attention to local concerns. “Whether the issue is day care, unsafe buses, drainage, getting cherry trees planted, anything that affects the lives of the people, he has been supportive and helpful to the community.”

Jenny Low, District Leader for Assembly District 65 in Manhattan, told the Eagle, “It’s tough to report to folks from two boroughs. I know he’ll be an excellent Public Advocate for everyone in the city.”

A host of players have endorsed Squadron, including U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, dozens of elected representatives and Democratic clubs, The New York Times, the New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council, the Freelancers Union, Empire State Pride Agenda, The New York Observer and Gay City News.

His rival James, however, has received the endorsement of the Working Families Party and many unions including Central Labor Council (CLC), SEIU 32BJ and 1199, DC-37, TWU Local 100, UAW and more. She also has the support of a large number of elected officials, Democratic clubs and trade organizations.

James’ spokesperson Ibrahim Khan told the Brooklyn Eagle that James is planning a runoff kickoff on Thursday on the steps of New York City Hall with a “Women for Tish” rally. “She’s already received endorsements from NOW (the National Organization for Women) and Planned Parenthood. We’re unveiling another major women’s group,” he said.

The public advocate investigates complaints about city services, assesses whether agencies are responsive to the public, and recommends improvements. He or she has the right to participate in the discussions of the City Council and can sponsor local legislation.

Many people don’t realize that the public advocate is the elected official who succeeds the mayor in the event that the mayor resigns, is removed, dies or is otherwise incapacitated.

Still, turnout may be low for the runoff. With Bill Thompson’s concession, fewer voters may feel compelled to show up. There is no Republican candidate running.

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