Brooklyn Council Member Jumaane Williams on Tuesday announced his intention to run for public advocate of the City of New York after opening a campaign committee with the Board of Elections in anticipation of the race.
Williams — the son of Grenadian immigrants, who represents the 45th Council District in Brooklyn and is currently serving his third term in the New York City Council — said he filed paperwork to open the citywide campaign committee in advance of the Nov. 6 general election.
The current Public Advocate, Letitia James, is running on the Democratic and Working Families Party line for attorney general of New York state.
The public advocate, the second highest ranking elected office in the city, after the mayor, serves as a direct link between New Yorkers and their government, and acts as a watchdog over city agencies.
The public advocate also investigates complaints about City services and makes proposals to address any shortcomings or failures of those services.
James made history in 2014 by becoming the first woman of color to hold citywide office in New York city.
If and when the public advocate position is vacated, Williams, a progressive Democrat, said he will formally launch his campaign to fill the public advocate role in a special election to be set by New York city Mayor Bill de Blasio shortly after the vacancy occurs.
“I have always felt that my job as an activist elected official has been to make sure the voices of all New Yorkers are lifted up, and to create the kinds of changes that have a tangible positive impact on their lives,” said Williams, who unsuccessfully ran against Kathy Hochul for lieutenant governor of New York state in the Democratic Primary elections. The lieutenant governor is the second highest position in New York State.
“New York city needs to live up to its promise as a progressive beacon, and government needs not just to legislate but to listen,” Williams added. “Too many working class New Yorkers are struggling, and this city belongs to them — not just to the rich or real estate lobby.
“This is our New York, and it’s time to take it back,” he continued. “As public advocate, I will fight make this city affordable, equitable and just for the many, not the few.”
Williams’ announcement comes after he received nearly 650,000 votes to become lieutenant governor of New York last month, with more than 400,000 votes from individuals throughout the five boroughs in New York city.