Who will be New York City’s Next Watchdog?
The office of the Public Advocate is one of the newest positions during a municipal election along side the offices The Mayor and Comptroller. If you are aware of New York Politics or have been voting since 1993 you could most likely name all the past Public Advocates all on your own. They have all been democrats. Mark Green was the first Public Advocate in 1994-2001, followed by Betsy Gotbaum (2002-2009) and most Bill de Blasio from 2010-the present.
The job of the Public Advocate is that of a watchdog. It helps to ensure that all New Yorkers receive the City services they deserve and have a voice in policy with the government. They can also introduce and co sponsor legislation in City Council but don’t vote, if there is a tie (when does that happen) they may vote. This year during the other municipal elections in New York City the office of Public Advocate spot is open and while they’re four candidates running on the Democratic Party line.
Two candidates stick out as the most qualified for the position. As I am a member of the Stonewall Democratic Club, earlier this year I made a decision on which I thought my club should endorse for Public Advocate and for me it wasn’t an easy one. I hold both of these candidates in the highest regard. Either way the City of New York would be a better place with Daniel Squadron or Letitia James as Public Advocate.
Daniel Squadron is currently the New York State Senator of the 26th Senate District. As such Daniel has mediated between advocates and the administration to win an agreement to end the policy of charging rent to homeless families in city shelters.
Daniel has been part of the coalition of public housing residents and allies that helped win a new federal funding for NYCHA’s capital and operational needs
Daniel was the lead sponsor of the Gender Expression Non Discrimination Act (GENDA) he convened public forums that highlighted issues of the transgender community. He was met with opposition from the Republican and IDC members of the Senate.
Daniel has been a great State Senator for the members of the 26th District and to the people of the City of New York and he has many ideas for his time during Public Advocate if he is elected. Daniel wants to fix the compliant intake function of the office, fix the power to ensure information, create relationships with external advocates. These make up all qualities he would bring to the table as Public Advocate.
The other candidate most qualified candidates for this position. Letitia “TIsh” James has been a member of the New York City Council since 2003. Tish represents Brooklyn in the areas of Clinton Hill, Fort Greene and parts of Crown Heights, Prospect Heights, and Bedford Stuyvesant. She is the Chairperson on both the Committee on Economic Development and Sanitation and Solid Waste Management. She also sits on the Committee on Contracts and Small Business.
Even since before her time in City Council, Tish James has been in a career of public service. She has the passion to fight for New Yorker’s middle class and working families. She has been at the four front of taking on unfair budget cuts and worked hard to pursue economic security for workers, also with the passing of the Safe Housing Act.
Letitia has been a great straight ally for the LGBT community herself, talking about how she understand the need for civil rights being a women and a person of color herself. She has been known to come to rallies for the repeal of DADT (Don’t Ask Don’t Tell), send off of Edie Windsor for her case against the Supreme Court.
Most recently Tish was on the front with other council members to being to a vote in City Council on the Community Safety Act which was two bills Intro 1080 “Local Law to amend the administrative code of the City of New York, in relation to prohibiting biased profiling.” the second bill Intro 1079 “investigating, reviewing, studying and auditing of and making of recommendation relating to the operations, policies, programs and practices of the NYPD by the commissioner of the department of investigation”
The night both of these bills came to a vote in the city council chamber of City Hall, Councilmember James gave some remarks that night that feel the need to be repeated. “Council Member Williams and Lander, you have demonstrated great and–great profiles in courage throughout this entire discourse, and I just wanted to congratulate both of you. Today’s historic decision striking down provisions within DOMA and our vote here this evening basically affirms basic fundamental and human rights for all citizens. And today we are striking a blow against a practice, which has become a perverse rite of passage for all young men of color in the City of New York. Young men who unfortunately have become too accustomed to assuming the position whenever they are stopped by NYPD. Reasonable suspicion is the basic constitutional standard 2 upon which every stop is judged. And these bills that we are voting on this evening do nothing to impair or curtail that legal analysis. The law requires objective criteria and not artificial constructs, which have been designed by man, race. And so today, I would urge that the Mayor of the City of New York and that the Police Commissioner cease and desist from engaging in fear mongering and appealing to the worst amongst us. And that we engage in an intelligent conversation about how best to police the streets of the City of New York. And by passing and voting on these two bills, it will do nothing to handcuff or prevent NY–the Police Department from ensuring that all of us are safe. I look forward to voting aye on both and I want to thank the Speaker as well as Council Member Rosie Mendez, for saving publichousing and for saving all of the centers on behalf of all of the seniors and all the young people who live in NYCHA and who unfortunatelyhave historically been ignored.”
It’s people like Daniel Squadron and Letitia James that spend their lives fights for those who don’t have a voice or those that get overstepped that make them each the perfect kind of person for the job of Public Advocate. Sadly we can only have one.