Jumaane Williams, a progressive activist, is New York City’s public advocate-elect.
Williams, a city councilman from Brooklyn, won election as advocate with a plurality of votes on Tuesday, defeating 16 other candidates that included progressive journalist and activist Nomiki Konst and Queens councilman Eric Ulrich. Ulrich was the second place finisher, with 19 percent to Williams’s 33 percent.
As advocate, Williams will have control over the office’s $3.5 million budget and the power to hold public hearings. Williams will be the only person of color in the top of city government—Mayor Bill De Blasio, acting public advocate Corey Johnson, and comptroller Scott M. Stringer are white men.
The role of public advocate is seen as a stepping stone on the way to higher state office and the advocate replaces the mayor temporarily if the mayor leaves office early. De Blasio himself made the jump in 2013.
Congratulations for Williams on his win came from across the New York progressive spectrum.
Jumaane Williams went from being a public advocate to being THE NYC PUBLIC ADVOCATE. New York City made us proud.
— Linda Sarsour (@lsarsour) February 27, 2019
For as long as I’ve lived in New York @JumaaneWilliams has been a fearless advocate for the people. Nobody like him.
Now he’s THE Public Advocate for our city.
We’re so proud of you man. And we’re in your corner.
— Shaun King (@shaunking) February 27, 2019
NYC has a brand new Public Advocate and our city tonight is that much stronger for it. Congrats @JumaaneWilliams on your victory!
— Cynthia Nixon (@CynthiaNixon) February 27, 2019
There are lots of great candidates running for public advocate. Any one of them would do a stellar job.
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Turnout for the special election was low for the city with only around 400,000 New Yorkers casting ballots in the race.
Williams entered the race with a recently elevated public profile after running unsuccessfully against Kathy Hochul for Lt. Governor in the Democratic primary on September 13, 2018, and had the support of prominent progressives in the city including State Senator Julia Salazar and progressive activist and Fordham University law professor Zephyr Teachout.
Couldn’t leave Brooklyn for Albany this morning without casting my vote for @JumaaneWilliams to be our new Public Advocate!!!
Polls are open until 9:00PM tonight. There’s still time: Get to your polling site and vote for this organizer-turned-legislator who will fight for us! pic.twitter.com/oc4ixFfuRH
— Julia Salazar (@JuliaCarmel__) February 27, 2019
New York City has elected @JumaaneWilliams as the next Public Advocate!!!
Congratulations to Jumaane, to New York City, to the future, and to all the candidates for a great race.
— Zephyr Teachout (@ZephyrTeachout) February 27, 2019
The position was vacated at the end of December by newly elected state Attorney General Letitia James. Acting public advocate Johnson congratulated Williams on Twitter and promised a smooth transition.
Congrats @JumaaneWilliams - I look forward to your leadership in this role & I’m happy to ensure a smooth transition for you & your staff (I’ll be ACTING no more!).
Thanks to all the hardworking Public Advocate & Council staff who kept the office engaged and running since Jan 1!
— Corey Johnson (@CoreyinNYC) February 27, 2019
Due to the timing of James’s departure and the next election, Williams could have to face off against unknown challengers in a primary for advocate in June and then again in the general election in November.
It’s unclear if there will be much appetite for another free for all race, however, as Williams earned a decisive margin of victory in his plurality win.