By Sabina Mollot
On Tuesday, New York voters will have the opportunity to elect the next public advocate, following the last occupant of this office, Letitia James, becoming the attorney general.
While this is a role with little governing power, it’s widely seen as a stepping stone for individuals looking to become mayor or to gain other prominent positions. As to why New Yorkers should bother with this race, there is also the fact that the office exists to be a watchdog, a check on the mayor. Meanwhile, the public advocate is also the first in line to assume the title of mayor if something were to happen to the mayor. The public advocate can also introduce and sponsor legislation.
This race has proven to be extraordinarily competitive with 17 people on the ballot (one of them inactive) in an open special election. Voters shouldn’t expect to just pick a random name that matches their party as candidates have come up with their own party lines. The competition won’t end after February 26, though. In September there will be a primary and in November, a general election.
Read on to learn a few details about each name on this race’s bloated ballot.
NYC homeless made to compete for help
The following is an open letter to Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo:
Perhaps if either of you, or any of our esteemed local representatives took the time to chat with some of the younger homeless, as I have, you/they would discover (as I did) that most of the people, aged 16-50, come from other states, as close as NJ and as far away as the Dakotas!
That being said, I do believe that NY State and City residents should help the homeless, but help our homeless first. There must be a law somewhere, or one should be written and introduced that would give preferential treatment to NYC citizens out of our NYC taxes. At the same time, our NY government should send these young, able-bodied (but mostly alcohol or drug-addicted) men and women back to the state they came from, and let those tax payers take care of their own. You could start by asking for any kind of identification before giving them services such as food stamps, housing or a bus ticket to their home state!
By former Assemblymember Steven Sanders
After Letitia James is sworn in as the state’s new attorney general, there will be a special election in early 2019 to replace her as New York City’s next, and sixth, public advocate. But is that really necessary?
The position of public advocate, which pays $165,000 a year, was created when court ordered changes were made to New York City government in 1989. The powerful Board of Estimate was declared unconstitutional and abolished, transferring much of its responsibilities to the more democratic City Council.
The office of president of the City Council, a citywide elected position, was also eliminated and in its place the office of speaker of the City Council was created with significant new powers. Subsequently the citywide elected position of “public advocate” was created in place of City Council president. But its duties were ill defined and vague. It was given virtually no authority over anything.