John McCarten/NYC Council

Ydanis Rodriguez seen during a Riders Respond listening tour last year.

When the seven “leading contenders” in the February 26 special election for the office of public advocate took the stage at the second and final televised debate on Wednesday night, Ydanis Rodriguez was not among them. The northern Manhattan Councilmember was one of three elected officials in the race who was not invited to the debate, along with Assemblymember Daniel O’Donnell and Councilmember Eric Ulrich, because they did not meet a requirement for campaign spending.

Rodriguez told the WBAI Max & Murphy Show that he remains confident in his campaign, which is emphasizing immigrant rights—including a right to vote in local elections.

“We’re talking about restoring rights, not giving rights for the first time,” he said, explaining that immigrants lost that right “like a 100 years ago when we made it a requirement to be a citizen to be able to elect local leaders.” He added: “As we fight Donald Trump and want to be a city that shows an example that there should be no taxation without representation, people who are green card holders, people with working permits are the ones who pay taxes,” and deserve to vote in local races.

Rodriguez also highlighted his sponsorship of the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, a local law that would impose regulations on commercial rents and has been kicking around the Council since the Koch administration.

He also talked about lessons learned through his role in the rezoning of Inwood last year. “No rezoning is perfect in New York City. When we look at this process, it’s challenging and it is hard work we need to do,” he said, noting the lack of new affordable housing in the district in years preceding the rezoning, and the cultural amenities he was able to secure in the deal. “I also included in this rezoning a new pilot project that when a developer builds commercial space with public dollars, a percentage of space will be affordable to local small business.”

“I have seen people being pushed out and priced out, So I believe it’s my responsibility to listen to the people, but no rezoning is perfect.”

Listen below to the interview with Rodriguez or to the full show, which includes a conversation with another Councilmember running for public advocate, Jumaane Williams.

(And check out our Special Election Voters’ Guide to hear more interviews and see all the information you need on everyone who’s running.)

Public Advocate candidate Ydanis Rodriguez

Max & Murphy: Full Show of February 20, 2019