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Jumaane Williams' public advocate victory sets up another special election

The mayor is expected to call a vote to fill Williams' District 45 City Council seat once he officially resigns.

Jumaane Williams will vacate his City Council seat

Jumaane Williams will vacate his City Council seat when he is sworn in as public advocate. Photo Credit: Marisol Diaz-Gordon

The city is expected to hold another special election to fill the City Council seat soon-to-be left open by Jumaane Williams, who was elected public advocate in February.

Though Williams was sworn in as public advocate at a private ceremony on March 6, the Feb. 26 election results have not been certified and he hasn’t officially resigned from City Council. Once he resigns, Mayor Bill de Blasio will have three days to set the date of the special election, according to the City Charter. 

As with the public advocate race, the winner of the City Council special election would serve in the seat, representing Brooklyn’s District 45, through the end of this year, said election lawyer Jerry Goldfeder, who worked for Williams’ campaign and has represented several candidates and elected officials. There will be a primary and general election in June and November, respectively, for the rest of Williams’ term, which is through 2021, he said.

This means the winner of the special election, which would likely be in April or May, will have to run again a few months later in the June primary, and again in November, to serve for more than the remainder of 2019.

Williams hasn’t resigned from City Council yet because he’s “trying to see if it’s possible to get this special election done on the same day as the primary,” in an attempt to save the city money and confusion, his spokesman, William Gerlich, said.

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, who also remains acting public advocate, said on NY1 Thursday night that he doesn’t think the city can avoid a separate special election. 

“I think people were trying to figure out, is there a way to consolidate that special election into the June primary?” he said. “And I think the answer at this point is it is highly unlikely.”

Williams, too, will be running again in June and November to complete former public advocate Letitia James’ full term, also through the end of 2021.

“It’s very bizarre and irrational,” Goldfeder said of the election process. 

Only 402,778 people voted in the citywide public advocate special election, according to the BOE’s unofficial election results. In the two most recent City Council special elections, one in Manhattan in 2017 and one in the Bronx in 2016, turnout was about 11,500 and 3,700, respectively. 

Several people were already preparing to run for the District 45 seat, even before Williams, who has held it since 2010, won the public advocate election. The district includes Flatbush, East Flatbush, Flatlands, Midwood and Canarsie.

Those who have registered with the state Board of Elections in the past year include Farah Louis, Williams’ deputy chief of staff; Monique Chandler-Waterman, the founder of a youth services organization called East Flatbush Village; Anthony Beckford, a Marine Corps veteran and the leader of a police accountability group in Brooklyn; Louis Cespedes, a building designer and urban planner who previously ran against Williams in 2017; Xamayla Rose, the co-founder of an anti-violence campaign and a Kings County Democratic Committee representative; Adina Sash, who is known as Flatbush Girl on social media; and Anthony Alexis, a former City Council staffer who ran unsuccessfully for City Council in 2001.

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