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How Jumaane Williams won the special election

A look at the public advocate race by the numbers

February 28, 2019 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Former Councilmember Jumaane Williams resoundingly won the special election for New York City public advocate on Tuesday. AP Photo/Jason DeCrow, File
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As Jumaane Williams settles into his new job as New York City’s public advocate, political junkies are pouring over the results of the Feb. 26 special election to see how the Brooklyn City Council member pulled off his big victory.

And it was big.

Williams, a Democrat who represented Flatbush, East Flatbush, Flatlands and parts of Midwood in the City Council, trounced his 16 opponents in the special election, putting up impressive numbers not just citywide, but also in his home borough of Brooklyn.

Williams took the lion’s share of votes in Brooklyn, winning 59,600 votes, according to the New York City Board of Elections. His closest rival in the borough was Republican Councilmember Eric Ulrich from Queens, who earned 22,278 votes. Former council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito came in third in Brooklyn with 10,676 votes.

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Citywide, Williams came out of election night with 33 percent of the vote total, easily outpacing Ulrich, who earned 19 percent. Williams garnered 133,809 votes to Ulrich’s 77,026.

Williams spent Wednesday, the day after the election, meeting with Mayor Bill de Blasio and Council Speaker Corey Johnson at City Hall, making the rounds at television studios for interviews and basking in the glow of victory.


“It’s been a whirlwind day- meeting with @NYCSpeakerCoJo and @NYCMayor, checking out the new office (already has my name on it!) and thanking countless New Yorkers for choosing me to be the #PeoplesAdvocate. I’m so grateful for this opportunity,” Williams wrote on Twitter.

As public advocate, Williams will be the chief watchdog over city government and will be the ombudsman on behalf of everyday New Yorkers. He will be able to introduce legislation in the council, but will not be able to vote on bills. He will have the power to file lawsuits on behalf of the city. The public advocate, whose annual salary is $184,800 a year, operates an office with a $3 million budget.

Williams succeeds Letitia James, who vacated the public advocate’s office when she won election as New York State attorney general in November.

Aside from Williams, Ulrich and Mark-Viverito, the candidates in the special election included: Brooklyn Councilmember Rafael Espinal, Brooklyn community activist Tony Herbert, Queens Assemblymember Ron Kim, Manhattan Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez, Bronx Assemblymember Michael Blake, Manhattan Assemblymember Daniel O’Donnell, investigative journalist Nomiki Konst, attorney Dawn Smalls, attorney Manny Alicandro, Columbia University Professor David Eisenbach, Greenwich Village Democratic District Leader Benjamin Yee, lawyer Jared Rich and former teacher Helal Sheikh. Brooklyn Assemblymember Latrice Walker was on the ballot but was not running an active campaign.

Williams ran under the It’s Time Let’s Go Party due to the nature of special elections in New York City, where candidates cannot run under traditional party labels.

A closer look at the results from Brooklyn Assembly districts showed that Williams won big in the northern and eastern parts of the borough and had a strong showing in Central Brooklyn, while Ulrich did well in Southern and Southwest areas.

Williams won the 44th Assembly District (A.D.), which takes in parts of Park Slope and Windsor Terrace, earning 4,864 votes. Ulrich had 2,004 votes.

Williams won the 50th A.D. (Williamsburg-Greenpoint) with 2,125 votes while Mark-Viverito came in second in that district with 662 votes. Ulrich finished third with 449 votes.

In the 51st A.D. (Sunset Park), Williams garnered 1,696 votes, Mark-Viverito had 761 votes and Ulrich earned 438 votes.
Brooklyn Heights (52nd A.D.) turned out for Williams, giving him 7,494 votes, far more than Ulrich, who had 954 votes.

Williams won the 42nd A.D. (East Flatbush-Ditmas Park-parts of Flatbush) with 4,716 votes. Ulrich had 1,355. Williams easily took the 43rd A.D. (Crown Heights-Prospect-Lefferts Gardens), garnering 5,381 votes. Ulrich was a distant second with 857. The 53rd A.D. (parts of Bushwick-Williamsburg) handed him a victory with 1,798, more than 10 times the votes earned by Ulrich, who had 170. Williams had 1,281 votes in the 54th A.D. (parts of Bushwick-Cypress Hills). Ulrich had 59.

In the 55th A.D. (Brownsville), Williams had 2,348 votes. Ulrich earned 59. Williams also dominated in the 56th A.D. (Bed-Stuy), walking away with 4,771 votes. Ulrich had 86. Fort Greene and Clinton Hill, which make up the 57th A.D., came out for Williams, giving him 7,794 votes. Ulrich earned 154 votes in that district. The 58th A.D. (parts of Brownsville-Canarsie) saw Williams with 4,959 votes. Ulrich trailed far behind with 64 votes.

In the 59th A.D. (Georgetown-Mill Basin-Gerritsen Beach) saw Williams come away with 2,858 votes to Ulrich’s 1,444.
The 60th A.D. (East New York) was a blowout for Williams, who earned 3,133 votes. Ulrich had 62.

But Ulrich trounced Williams in the 45th A.D. (Sheepshead Bay-Manhattan Beach-parts of Midwood), walking away with 2,282 votes. Williams came in distant second with 356 votes.

Ulrich also garnered more votes than Williams in the 46th A.D. (Coney Island-parts of Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights), 1,383 to 1,025.

Ulrich outpaced Williams in the 47th A.D. (Gravesend-parts of Bensonhurst), winning 868 votes. Williams did not finish second in this district. Yee came in second behind Ulrich with 571 votes.

In Borough Park’s 48th A.D., Ulrich won by a wide margin, earning 5,490 votes. Williams had 253 votes. Ulrich also won the 49th A.D. (parts of Bensonhurst-Dyker Heights-Sunset Park) with 722 votes to Williams’ 198.

The 64th A.D., which includes parts of Bay Ridge and Staten Island, was won by Ulrich, who earned 623 votes. Williams had 362 votes.

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