The first televised debate among public advocate candidates featured 10 contestants in an Errol Louis-moderated slugfest and a protest by one of the six candidates excluded from the debate. The debate was hosted and televised by NY1.
Nine candidates attended a public advocate forum at Medgar Evers College sponsored by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, Arena Summit and the Alpha Kappa Alpha chapter of Delta Rho Omega. Candidates included Dawn Smalls, Ben Yee, Jared Rich, Tony Herbert, Michael Blake, Ydanis Rodriguez, Rafael Espinal, Eric Ulrich and Jumaane Williams.
One of the three candidate panels was the complete set of current City Council members running for public advocate: Eric Ulrich, Rafael Espinal, Ydanis Rodriguez and Jumaane Williams.
Public advocate candidate Manny Alicandro held a campaign kickoff in front of Manhattan’s Trump Tower, highlighting his support of fellow Republican Donald Trump. Alicandro has appeared at a few candidate forums, but has been less visible than most of the other candidates.
The Vanguard Independent Democratic Association drew eight public advocate candidates to a forum at Boys & Girls High School in Bed-Stuy. Participating candidates included Ben Yee, Nomiki Konst, Dawn Smalls, Michael Blake, Jared Rich, Tony Herbert, Rafael Espinal and Jumaane Williams. The forum was moderated by Esmeralda Simmons and Brian Vines.
The Powhatan and Pocahontas Democratic Club and the Taminent Regular Democratic Club co-hosted a public advocate candidate forum that drew ten candidates to Astoria on a bitterly cold night. Candidates attending included Ron Kim, Danny O’Donnell, Dawn Smalls, Jumaane Williams, Jared Rich, Ydanis Rodriguez, Michael Blake, David Eisenbach, Nomiki Konst and Rafael Espinal.
Neither club endorsed a candidate at the forum and it’s my understanding that neither club intends to endorse in the race. Of the elected officials attending the forum, Council Member Costa Constantinides has endorsed Nomiki Konst and NYS Senator Michael Gianaris and Assembly Member Aravella Simotas each said that they have not endorsed in the race and are uncertain whether they’ll do so.
Our full photo gallery is available here.
A group of downtown Manhattan Democratic Clubs jointly sponsored a public advocate candidate forum at the Educational Alliance’s Manny Cantor Center on East Broadway. The Grand Street Democrats and several other Clubs co-sponsored the forum.
The forum drew 13 candidates who appeared in three panels before an audience of approximately 150 people: Panel #1 – Melissa Mark-Viverito, Eric Ulrich, Dawn Smalls and Rafael Espinal, Panel #2 – Ydanis Rodriguez, Ben Yee, Ron Kim, Jumaane Williams and Nomiki Konst and Panel #3 – Manny Alicandro, David Eisenbach, Tony Herbert and Jared Rich.
Clubs and organizations sponsoring the forum included Downtown Independent Democrats, Henry Street Settlement, United Democratic Organization, Coalition for a District Alternative, Village Independent Democrats, Village Reform Democratic Club, Chinese American Planning Council, United Neighborhood Houses, New Downtown Democrats, University Settlement, Grand Street Settlement and OCA-New York.
The Board of Elections made final determinations on the public advocate special election ballot, setting a ballot of 17 candidates.
The Board eliminated five candidates who sought to be on the ballot, Ify Ike, Theo Chino, Mike Zumbluskas, Danniel Maio and Walter Iwachiw. All but Ike were eliminated for filing insufficient signatures on their petitions while Ike was eliminated for failing to timely file a certificate of acceptance. The Board placed candidate Helal Sheikh on the ballot despite Board staff having previously ruled he was ineligible due to a failure to identify on his petitions the election he was seeking to run in.
In a marked paradox the Board refused to remove candidate Latrice Walker from the ballot despite her attorney’s express request. Walker submitted sufficient petition signatures and other required documents but subsequently decided to drop out of the race. The Board ruled that it did not have authority to remove Walker and she is on the final ballot.
Nine candidates attended a public advocate candidate forum at the Jewish Center of Jackson Heights sponsored by the New Visions Democratic Club, the Lesbian & Gay Democratic Club of Queens and the John F. Kennedy Democratic Club. Participating candidates included David Eisenbach, Michael Blake, Jared Rich, Melissa Mark-Viverito, Rafael Espinal, Tony Herbert, Jumaane Williams, Ben Yee and Dawn Smalls. Council Member Danny Dromm was the sole elected official to attend. Dromm said that he has not endorsed a candidate in the special election and is uncertain whether he’ll do so.
Who are they? Here’s a photo gallery of the public advocate candidates to help you get to know them. We published an early photo gallery featuring 21 prospective candidates, and the group later rose to 31. We’ve ended up with a reduced, though still quite large, field of 17.
The Board of Elections set the final ballot at a hearing Tuesday, ruling on the validity of several candidates contested petitions. 17 candidates were approved and will be on the ballot, although not all willingly. Assembly Member Latrice Walker’s campaign attorney said that despite having submitted sufficient petitions and qualifying for the ballot Walker does not intend to campaign and unsuccessfully sought to have her removed from the ballot. We’ve included Walker in our photo gallery.
The Stonewall Democratic Club endorsed Assembly Member Danny O’Donnell for public advocate Wednesday night, choosing to support the first openly gay man elected to the New York State Assembly. Former Council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Assembly Member Michael Blake also energetically sought the endorsement, with Mark-Viverito speaking at the endorsement meeting and Blake addressing the club via face time as he rode the train from Albany to New York City after an Assembly session.
Council Member Jumaane Williams also appeared in person at the endorsement meeting but conceded in his opening remarks that he was unlikely to win the endorsement. He faced questions on both having contributed money to candidates seen as anti-LGBTQ and on past positions on several issues, including bans on “conversion therapy” and not supporting GENDA.
Eleven candidates, ten of whom expect to be on the February 26th special election ballot, joined a forum focused on health issues including HIV/AIDS prevention and education, substance use, mental health, LGBT rights, and discrimination. Sponsored by GMHC and hosted by the New School, the forum was moderated by NY1 reporter Grace Rauh and featured candidates Theo Chino, David Eisenbach, Nomiki Konst, Melissa Mark-Viverito, Jared Rich, Dawn Smalls, Jumaane Williams and Ben Yee. Rafael Espinal participated in much of the forum, departing before it concluded, and Latrice Walker joined for the last few minutes. Daniel Christmann also participated; he’s a self-described candidate but did not submit petitions to the Board of Elections and will not appear on the February 26th ballot.
The Rev. Al Sharpton drew a large contingent of elected officials to his annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration at National Action Network’s House of Justice. Headliners included U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, Mayor Bill de Blasio and U.S. Reps. Jerry Nadler, Hakeem Jeffries, Yvette Clarke and Carolyn Maloney. NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, Council Speaker and Acting Public Advocate Corey Johnson, NYS Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and NYS Senate Temporary President and Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins also spoke.
Several of the public advocate candidates participated, including Assembly Members Latrice Walker, Michael Blake and Danny O’Donnell, Council Members Jumaane Williams and Rafael Espinal, former Council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Dawn Smalls. Walker, Blake, O’Donnell and Smalls were given speaking slots. Former mayor David Dinkins and former congressman Charles Rangel appeared, sitting onstage in the front row for the full program.
The Saul Weprin Democratic Club and 13 of its fellow Queens Democratic clubs hosted a public advocate candidate forum in Fresh Meadows, drawing nine candidates. Moderated by Saul Weprin Club President Anthony Lemma, the forum featured appearances by Dawn Smalls, Ben Yee, Danny O’Donnell, David Eisenbach, Latrice Walker, Michael Blake, Rafael Espinal, Ron Kim and Ydanis Rodriguez.