THE HEADLINE: A CROWDED, DIVERSE FIELD PROMISES FOR A SUBSTANTIVE, COMPETITIVE RACE
The Public Advocate is a fairly new position – inaugurated in 1994 – it has been held by just three people, all Democrats: Mark Green (’94-’01), Betsy Gotbaum (’02-’09) and, since 2010, Bill de Blasio, who is now a candidate for Mayor. The Public Advocate’s role is to be a voice for all the residents of New York City, sometimes known as an “ombudsman” or watchdog, ensuring that all city residents receive the services they are entitled to, have their rights protected and their interests looked out for.
Perhaps most importantly, the Public Advocate has a platform to give voice to New Yorkers who s/he feels are being overlooked; the Public Advocate often takes the role of critic of the Mayor and the City Council, has the power to introduce legislation to the City Council, and is next in line if the sitting Mayor is unable to fulfill the duties of the office.
The 2013 race to replace Bill de Blasio as Public Advocate is a crowded field of interesting candidates with diverse backgrounds. Cathy Guerriero, Tish James, Reshma Saujani, Daniel Squadron, and Sidique Wai have collectively done it all, so to speak, and hail from all different racial, ethnic, religious, and geographical backgrounds. There’s a lot to dig into with this race, we look forward to following it and encourage you to carefully do so as well. The first question is: what do I want in my Public Advocate?