Brooklyn Boro

Jumaane Williams interested in NYC Public Advocate position

October 24, 2018 By Raanan Geberer & Sara Bosworth Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Councimember Jumaane Williams. Photo courtesy of Williams' office
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City Councilmember Jumaane Williams (D-East Flatbush), who was closely defeated by incumbent Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul in last month’s Democratic primary, has now set his sights on becoming New York City public advocate.

If Letitia James, the city’s current public advocate and another Brooklynite, wins her race in November to become New York attorney general, as expected, she will leave her current position by the end of 2018. A special election would then be held to fill the public advocate’s seat.

Though Williams lost to Hochul by more than 6 percentage points statewide, he garnered more support than his opponent in New York City, overtaking Hochul by more than 60,000 votes across the five boroughs.

Williams sees a similarity between the two positions. “If I’m not public advocate for New York state, I could be the public advocate for New York City,” he told The New York Times.

“The office of the public advocate I think, is tailor-made for someone that has experienced being an activist and an elected official without compromising either one of those,” Williams said in an interview with City & State on Tuesday.

Williams is no stranger to activism, having been arrested twice in 2018 for protesting, once in January while demonstrating against the deportation of immigration activist Ravi Ragbir, and again over the summer, while protesting President Donald Trump’s pick of Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court.  

The public advocate presides over City Council meetings and can introduce legislation, but has few defined other responsibilities, the Times said. The job is often seen as a gateway position for mayoral hopefuls.

Several other Democrats are thought to be interested in the public advocate position, the Times reports, including Brooklyn City Councilmembers Antonio Reynoso, Robert E. Cornegy Jr. and Rafael L. Espinal Jr.

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