Jumaane Williams eyes public advocate office after primary defeat

Williams has been a fierce tenant advocate

Jumaane Williams (Credit: Getty Images)
Jumaane Williams (Credit: Getty Images)

After coming close to becoming the state’s lieutenant governor, City Council member Jumaane Williams is now eying the role of city public advocate.

Williams lost the nomination for lieutenant governor to Kathy Hochul by 6 percentage points in September’s primary but beat out the incumbent in New York City by more than 60,000 votes. Williams, a former tenant advocate and an outspoken member of the City Council’s Housing and Buildings Committee, had previously indicated that he wasn’t considering another office. He told the New York Times that he’s changed his mind.

“I’d been using the public advocate as an example of what the lieutenant governor should be,” Williams said. “If I’m not public advocate for New York State, I could be the public advocate for New York City. The message we have is transferable.”

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The city’s public advocate has few designated responsibilities. The official presides over City Council meetings, can introduce legislation and publishes the annual Worst Landlords list. The role is often seen as a path to running for mayor, as was the case for Bill de Blasio.

The current Public Advocate Letitia James is poised to become the state’s next Attorney General, leaving the role open. Other City Council members, including Ritchie Torres, Ydanis Rodriguez, Robert Cornegy Jr., Eric Ulrich, Antonio Reynoso, Donovan Richards, Rafael Espinal Jr. and Joseph Borelli have also expressed interest in the position, according to the publication. [NYT] — Kathryn Brenzel