City Council special election set to fill Jumaane Williams’ seat

A special election for Jumaane Williams' City Council seat will happen on May 14.
A special election for Jumaane Williams’ City Council seat will happen on May 14. Photo Credit: Danielle Levitt

The city will hold a special election in May to fill the City Council seat left open by Jumaane Williams, who was elected public advocate in February.

The election, set for May 14 by Mayor Bill de Blasio, will be the second special election this year. Williams beat 16 other candidates in the Feb. 26 election for former Public Advocate Letitia James’ seat after she became New York attorney general.

As with the public advocate race, the winner of the City Council special election will 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 will have to run again six weeks later in the June 25 primary, and again in November, to serve for more than the remainder of 2019. Williams, too, will be running again in June and November to complete James’ full term, also through the end of 2021.

Jumaane Williams won the public advocate special election on Feb. 26.
Jumaane Williams won the public advocate special election on Feb. 26. Photo Credit: Jumaane 4 NYC

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

Williams had delayed his resignation from City Council because he was “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.

But because of city laws, that effort was not successful.

Only 410,312 people voted in the citywide public advocate special election, according to the BOE’s certified 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 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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