An election with 17 candidates, after 31 aspirants expressed interest and campaigned, and a comparatively short three months of campaigning. Triggered by Tish James’s November election as New York State attorney general and resulting resignation as public advocate, the public advocate special election was, for New York, a unique electoral experience. Held with an unprecedented number of candidates and the absence of established party designations or nominations it was New York City’s first citywide special election. Candidate forums were the predominant public campaign activity, with several dozen held around the city by a wide range of civic and political groups. Our gallery has moments from the start to finish – take a look.
The National Action Network hosted a public advocate candidate forum, drawing 12 candidates to its House of Justice in Harlem. The Rev. Al Sharpton made opening remarks and introduced the candidates but did not moderate or attend the forum. Candidates participating included Ydanis Rodriguez, Ben Yee, Jumaane Williams, Manny Alicandro, David Eisenbach, Tony Herbert, Nomiki Konst, Dawn Smalls, Ron Kim, Danny O’Donnell, Melissa Mark-Viverito and Michael Blake.
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.
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.
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.
Public advocate candidate Eric Ulrich held a meet & greet Saturday afternoon at Staten Island Republican headquarters, drawing a small audience for a petitioning pep talk. Two Staten Island Republican elected officials, Ulrich’s fellow Council Member Steve Matteo and Assembly Member Mike Reilly, joined Ulrich for a public display of their support. Council Member Joe Borelli was expected to attend but cancelled due to a conflicting personal event. Staten Island Republican Party Chairman Brendan Lantry attended and hosted the speaking program. The party has endorsed Ulrich.
New terms, lots of candidates, fiercely fought elections, victories and defeats both surprising and not. Lots happened in 2018 New York politics and we’ve distilled the year into our 2018 Year in Photos.
16 candidates attended a public advocate candidate forum hosted by the New Kings Democrats in Brooklyn Heights. Moderated by Gotham Gazette executive editor Ben Max and Daily News editorial board member Alyssa Katz, the forum featured the following candidates in four separate panels: panel #1 – Gwen Goodwin, Rafael Espinal, Dawn Smalls and Theo Chino, panel #2 – Melissa Mark-Viverito, Mike Zumbluskas, Tony Herbert and David Eisenbach, panel #3 – Daniel Christmann, Jumaane Williams, Ron Kim and Michael Blake and panel #4 – Nomiki Konst, Latrice Walker, Ify Ike and Ben Yee.
Held in Brooklyn Heights’ First Unitarian Congregational Society the forum drew an audience of approximately 200. Several Brooklyn Democratic organizations held endorsement meetings immediately afterward, with the New Kings Democrats and Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats announcing endorsements of Council Member Jumaane Williams.
The Sojourner Truth Democratic Club and the NYC Black and Latino LGBTQ Coalition co-hosted a public advocate candidate forum, drawing 13 candidates to the Fifth Avenue Social Adult Day Center at 112th Street and Fifth Avenue.
The Benjamin Franklin Reform Democratic Club brought the rapidly building race for public advocate to the American mainland Wednesday, drawing 12 advocate aspirants to Riverdale for a candidate forum. Candidates participating were Assembly Members Michael Blake, Latrice Walker and Danny O’Donnell, Dawn Smalls, Theo Chino, Council Members Ydanis Rodriguez Jumaane Williams and Rafael Espinal, Nomiki Konst, former Council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Ify Ike and Tony Herbert.
The New York State Reform Party held a candidate forum Monday night, drawing ten public advocate hopefuls to Dyker Heights. Moderated by Reform Party secretary Frank Morano the forum was well-executed, with candidates given several minutes to pitch their candidacy followed by a variety of substantive questions from Morano. They likely did not sway many voters, however, as the audience (excluding press and campaign staff) barely outnumbered the candidates.
Current public advocate Letitia James is expected to resign on or before December 31st so that she can take office as the New York State Attorney General on January 1st, with a special election to fill the vacancy in mid -February. Candidates participating were Mike Zumbluskas, David Eisenbach, Tony Herbert, Ify Ike, Nancy Sliwa, Peter Gleason, Diane Signorile, John Tabacco, Nomiki Konst and Daniel Christmann.
The special election will be nonpartisan, with no party designation for candidates. Parties are nonetheless able to endorse or support a candidate. Reform Party Chairman Curtis Sliwa, speaking just before the forum, said that the Reform Party will not make any endorsement. (Note: Sliwa’s wife Nancy Sliwa was among the candidates appearing at the forum.)