Jumaane Williams woke up Wednesday not knowing if he was Councilmember from the 45th district in Brooklyn, the public advocate for the City of New York, or both. By the time he spoke to WBAI’s Max & Murphy Show later in the day, he knew that he was a few days a way from making the formal switch to his new citywide post, as he waits for the Board of Elections to certify the results of Tuesday’s special election, where Williams took a very strong third of the ballots in a field of 16 candidates.
But there was still uncertainty. For one thing, it was unclear whether there would need to be a special election to fill his Council seat once he vacates it. “I had two different answers today so I’m a little concerned. I heard there wasn’t and that the election would happen in June and then I heard there’d be an election in April,” Williams said. “I think we should merge it with the June primary. It may be the charter doesn’t allow for that.”
More substantive questions also remain unanswered.
Will Williams face a June primary, perhaps involving one of the Democrats he defeated Tuesday night? (“This is a democracy. We had 17 people on the ballot this time. We’ll see how many people are on ballot in June. I intend to run again and to try to convince people that the vision we had for the office is the right one, and I hope to win their vote again.”)
Will he face Council colleague Eric Ulrich, the Republican who placed a strong second in the special election, in the November general election? (“I did speak to Eric and he put up some impressive numbers,” Williams said. “We don’t agree on all policy points, but he didn’t give any indication what he was going to do in November.”)
More important still, what kind of relationship will Williams have with Mayor de Blasio, the former public advocate whom just about everyone running in the special election vowed to hammer if they were elevated to the advocate’s post. Williams and the mayor met earlier on Wednesday.
“He said the nature of the office was that sometimes there’d be tension – good tension on behalf of the people of New York. And there’s some great groundwork for both of us to have to make sure the city is moving forward the way it should be,” Williams said. “I’ve always said that my job is not to be adversarial just for the sake of being adversarial. If we’re doing what we should be doing, then things are fine. To the extent that we’re not, I’m gonna advocate for the public.”
Listen to our conversation with Williams below. Or check out the full show, in which we also huddle with political strategist Rebecca Katz to size up the meaning and merit of Bill de Blasio’s presidential flirtations.
Jumaane Williams as Public-Advocate-Elect
Max & Murphy: February 27, 2019