Brooklyn Boro

Here’s a look at public advocate race by the numbers

January 8, 2019 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Former Public Advocate Letitia James takes her oath of office as attorney general with the help of former United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch during an inauguration ceremony on Sunday. AP Photo/Seth Wenig

With the date set for the special election for New York City public advocate, here’s a look at some of the numbers surrounding the hot button race.

Officials at the New York City Campaign Finance Board (CFB) said the candidates are facing strict deadlines for registering their bids for the office, as well as deadlines for filing paperwork to qualify for matching public funds.

Here are some of the relevant numbers to look out for as the election approaches:

The first is 26.

As in Feb. 26. That’s the date Mayor Bill de Blasio set as the date for the special election to fill the public advocate seat left vacant when Democrat Letitia James was elected New York state attorney general. The mayor signed a proclamation last week setting the wheels in motion. “We chose this date to maximize voter participation,” de Blasio said when he signed the proclamation.

The public advocate’s job is to serve as a watchdog over city government and to work as an ombudsman on behalf of city residents. The advocate is also the first in the line of succession for mayor. The person holding the office can introduce legislation in the City Council and can file lawsuits on behalf of the city. The salary is $184,800 a year. The public advocate’s office operates with an annual budget of $3 million.

The number 15 million is another one to remember.

The special election is likely to cost New York City $15 million, according to most estimates.

But also pay attention to the number 11.

According to the CFB, all candidates looking to run for public advocate must register with the board. Candidates who want to participate in public financing are required to submit a certification form to the CFB by Friday, Jan. 11.

By now, the candidates are familiar with the numbers 14 and 3,750.

Jan. 14 is the deadline for candidates to submit signatures on nominating petitions to the New York City Board of Elections get on the ballot. Candidates must submit at least 3,750 signatures. The Board of Elections will certify the ballot during the last week of January.

Five lawmakers from Brooklyn and Queens are among those who have announced their candidacies: Brooklyn Councilmembers Rafael Espinal and Jumaane Williams, Brooklyn Assemblymember Latrice Walker, Queens Assemblymember Ron Kim and Queens Councilmember Eric Ulrich.

Former City Council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, radio personality Curtis Sliwa, Upper Manhattan Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez, Bronx Assemblymember Michael Blake and Manhattan Assemblymember Daniel O’Donnell are also among those running.

Because special elections in New York City are nonpartisan affairs, candidates cannot run as Democrats or Republicans. Instead, they must create their own parties. Mark-Viverito is running on the “Fix the MTA” party line. In a move that is sure to gain attention, Sliwa is running under the “Fire Me” party. Bob Capano, chairman of the Brooklyn Reform Party and an ally of Sliwa’s, said the name is no accident. Sliwa “is the only candidate saying he will shut down the office and fire himself if elected,” Capano told the Brooklyn Eagle.

Another important number is 8.

This election will also mark the first time candidates can choose to take part in the city’s brand new public financing program that provides an $8-$1 match of public funds to privately raised funds. The candidates can choose to participate in the new program, stick with the old program (which provided a $6-$1 match) or opt out of public financing altogether.

In order to receive matching funds, candidates must raise a minimum of $62,500 from at least 500 contributors and those contributions must come from New York City residents. For candidates who choose the new funding program, only the first $250 in campaign contributions counts towards the $62,500 threshold. Candidates taking part in the old program should know that only the first $175 count toward the threshold.

And finally, there’s the number 2.

The CFB announced that there will be two debates in February to give candidates the opportunity to make their pitch to voters.