New York Votes Today: Jumaane Williams Bids to Continue as Public Advocate While Katz Seeks Queens DA Post


Jumaane Williams. Photo: Facebook

Today’s general election will address public policy issues while selecting a small number of office holders. New York will have its first experience with early voting, which began on October 26th. If you don’t know your polling place, put your address into the poll locator link.

The only citywide contest will be for Public Advocate. Jumaane Williams won the position last winter via a special election held after Letitia James became the State Attorney General. Williams won in February in a special election to replace Letitia James after she became state attorney general. His challenger is Joe Borelli, a Republican City councilmember, and Devin Balkind, a Libertarian.

The winner will serve out the remaining two years of James’s term. The seat will be contested in 2021 as today’s winner will only serve out James’ remaining two years. Williams’ victory in the special election created an opening in the Brooklyn 45th City Council District. That seat will also be on the ballot.

Last spring, center/right Democrat Melinda Katz, won a super slim, 60 vote special election victory over Bernie Sanders-style progressive Tiffany Cabán. Katz, formerly Queensl Borough President, will run against a Republican and should have an easier time than in the special election. Katz is considered the favorite against Joe Murray in the race for Queens County District Attorney. John Ryan has been acting DA since Richard Brown died in May shortly after resigning.

There will be Borough/County-based contests for Civil, Municipal, and Supreme courts. The judicial elections have become the bread and butter of the county/borough-based Democratic party “machines” as their influence over the candidate elections have declined. This year, 5 ballot measures will establish public policy in areas of voting, land use review, ethics, budgeting, police oversight

RANKED CHOICE VOTING: Under RCV, voters for most primary and special election campaigns would be able to rank order up to 5 candidates. If no candidate receives a majority (which often happens in races with many competitors) the last place candidate’s vote will transfer to each voter’s second choice candidate. This process will prevent, for example, a winner in a 8 candidate race from winning with 30 % of the vote.

CIVILIAN COMPLAINT REVIEW BOARD: Two new members would be added to the CCRB. The Chairperson would be jointly selected by the Mayor and Council Speaker. the Public Advocate would also appoint a member. The budget for the organization would be increased, and the NYPD Commissioner would have to issue a written explanation when he overrides a recommendation by the board. The CCRB director would get subpoena power.

ETHICS/INCLUSION: Elective office holders and senior local government officials would be banned from lobbying the City for two years, an increase over the current one-year ban in effect. Two Mayoral appointees to the Conflict of Interest Board would be nominated by the Comptroller and Public Advocate in the future. Board members would be limited in their ability to lobby the City government, contribute to, or campaign for elected officials. Also under this measure, the director of the Office of Minority/Women-owned businesses would report directly to the Mayor.

RAINY DAY FUND: This proposal would allow the for current fiscal year funds to be categorized as intended for use in future years. This proposal would also guaranteed the budgets of the public Advocate and Borough Presidents. Currently, those budgets can be cut as part of negotiations between the City Council and Mayor.

LAND USE: The City’s Universal Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) controls applications for rezonings and the siting of public facilities. the proposal would give community boards more time to review proposals submitted during the summer months when many boards to not meet. It would require the city government to provide project summaries to the borough presidents, and borough boards at least 30 days before certification.

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