NYC Councilman Jumaane Williams decisively beat out a crowded field of 16 other candidates in the special election to replace former New York City Public Advocate Letitia James Tuesday by a margin of roughly 13 points.
Williams, a City Council member who has represented the 45th Council District in Brooklyn, since 2009, was considered by many to be the favorite in the race from the start, after he chalked up a narrow loss in the September primary elections in his spirited Cynthia Nixon-allied primary campaign to unseat incumbent Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul.
One person who may be feeling a little nervous about Jumaane Williams’ public advocate win on Tuesday is Mayor Bill de Blasio. Williams is the progressive Brooklyn councilman who ran a spirited Cynthia Nixon-allied primary campaign for lieutenant governor last year.
In an emotional and fiery victory speech Tuesday night he promised to “hold the powerful accountable.”
“This campaign may have been relatively short but this journey has been long,” Williams said thanking a catalog of supporters, Council colleagues, labor and the Working Families Party which has long been a supporter.
He promised to advocate for affordable housing, alleviating homelessness, criminal justice, reducing gun violence and to advance the rights of those threatened “by the orange man in the White House,” he said referring to President Donald Trump.
But when his prepared remarks appeared over, Williams went on to admit that he’s been in therapy for the past three years and urged other black men to listen.
“There was a time when the title I held was my identity and that’s a dangerous thing,” Williams said. “There’s a young black boy … trying to find a space in the world. Nobody knows he cries himself to sleep sometimes. Nobody knows he misses his father. Nobody knows what he’s going through.”
“I’ve got something to say to that young man,” Williams said through tears. “My name is Jumaane Williams and I’m the public advocate of New York City.”
The job of public advocate, created a little more than two decades ago, is a nebulous one, but is often described as a watchdog role, with the responsibility of keeping the mayor and other city officials in check, and ensuring city services are flowing to residents. The advocate can also introduce legislation in the City Council.
Williams – who was endorsed by the New York Times in both the Lt. Governor and Public Advocate races – is a first-generation Brooklynite of Grenadian heritage. He is a proud product of the City’s public school system. He attended Philippa Schuyler Middle School for the Gifted and Talented and Brooklyn Technical High School. He earned his bachelor’s in political science, and master’s in urban policy and administration at Brooklyn College. He began his career as assistant director for the Greater Flatbush Beacon School, and later went on to serve as the executive director of New York State Tenants & Neighbors. Council Member Williams is an advocate for affordable housing, anti-gun violence measures, fair policing, equity, and social justice. His major successes as Council Member include; the Community Safety Act, which created the Office of Inspector General for the New York Police Department, the Fair Chance Act and co-chairing the taskforce, which created New York’s Crisis Management System and Cure Violence Groups to combat gun violence.
Williams was a panelist in the first annual Westchester Black Political Conference, held Saturday, February 10, 2018. He has also appeared on the debut of the Black Westchester Power Hour Radio Show, on WVOX Radio on Monday, May 7, 2018 and the People Before Politics Radio Show Episode 163 on Sunday, April 8, 2018.