Jumaane Williams, a New York City councilman representing parts of Brooklyn, won the New York City public advocate special election on February 26. He defeated 16 other candidates in the nonpartisan election, receiving about 33 percent of the vote, according to unofficial returns.
He will be the city’s fifth elected public advocate. The previous public advocate, Letitia James, was elected attorney general of New York in November 2018. Corey Johnson, who did not run in yesterday’s special election, has served as the acting public advocate since January 1, 2019.
The public advocate is first in the mayoral line of succession and acts as a watchdog and ombudsman for the public. He or she may sit in on meetings of the City Council and introduce legislation but may not vote on any measures. Although the position has little direct power, it is seen as a launching pad for higher office.
Of the four previously elected public advocates, two have advanced to higher office following their tenure: James and Bill de Blasio, who became mayor of New York City in 2014.
Yesterday’s election means that Williams will serve in the office until December 31, 2019. A second election will be held later this year for the remainder of James’ four-year term which ends in 2021.