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.
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 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.
The Liberal Party endorsed Rafael Espinal for public advocate, with executive director Martin Hassner joining Espinal for a brief press conference outside of the public advocate’s office in the Municipal Building Wednesday.
The Liberal Party is a dramatically smaller force in New York politics since losing its ballot line in 2002, a bitter fate suffered not long after its modern zenith in the 1993 election of Rudy Giuliani. The endorsement is nonetheless a positive for Espinal, although it’s unclear how substantial an effort the Liberal Party is able to mount in support of his candidacy.
A large group of East Side Democratic clubs hosted a public advocate candidate forum Thursday night, drawing 13 aspiring advocates and an audience of 150-200 people to the New York New Church on East 35th Street.
Candidates participating included Ify Ike, Nomiki Konst, Dawn Smalls, Rafael Espinal, Melissa Mark-Viverito, Danny O’Donnell, Latrice Walker, Jumaane Williams, Michael Blake, Ben Yee, Ron Kim, David Eisenbach and Theo Chino. Gwen Goodwin attended part of the forum and was introduced by the moderators, but did not participate or address the audience. Sponsoring clubs included the Eleanor Roosevelt Club, Four Freedoms Club, Tilden Democrats, GSID, East River Democrats, Village Independent Democrats, Chelsea Democrats and Manhattan Young Democrats.
Assembly Member Michael Blake rolled out additional endorsements Thursday, announcing support from fellow Bronx elected officials. NYS Senator Luis Sepulveda, Assembly Member Nathalie Fernandez and Council Member Rafael Salamanca appeared with Blake on the steps of the Bronx County Civil Courthouse. Campaign co-chair Nathalie Molina Nino also joined them, with Molina Nino MC’g the press conference.
Assembly Member Ron Kim held a public advocate campaign kickoff today, seeking a boost as the campaign formally began. Mayor Bill de Blasio signed a proclamation this morning setting the special election for February 26th and triggering an immediate start to the petitioning period. Kim, who has been one the 30 or so professed candidates campaigning ahead of the actual declaration of an election, moved promptly today to set his campaign in motion.