On February 26, City Council Member Jumaane Williams (D-Brooklyn) was elected, with 33% of the vote, Public Advocate in a citywide, nonpartisan special election. The position was vacated by Letitia James when she became New York State Attorney General in January. Williams, who last year mounted a strong but unsuccessful campaign for Lieutenant Governor, emerged victorious from a field of 17 candidates. The crowded field of mostly Democrats allowed Eric Ulrich, a Republican Council Member from Queens, to place second with 19% of the vote. Voter turnout was only 9%.
Williams will serve as Public Advocate until at least January 2020. Party primaries will be held in June in anticipation of another election in November to determine who will serve as Public Advocate for the rest of what was initially James’ term (until 2021). Bronx Borough President and likely mayoral candidate Ruben Diaz Jr. (D) called on Democrats to unite behind Public Advocate Williams and forego challenging him in the primary.
Williams’s victory opens up his Flatbush Council Seat. A special election will be held to fill that vacancy, but there are no further details yet.