NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams exploring run for governor next year

Photo courtesy of @NYCPublicAdvocate
Jumaane Williams, center, speaks at an event in Manhattan on September 15 demanding the abolition of the NYPD gang database. Williams has formed an exploratory committee for a potential run for governor in 2022.

New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams announced he has formed an exploratory committee in preparation for running for governor next year.

Williams filed paperwork with the Board of Elections on Tuesday to create a statewide campaign committee account.

“I’ve spent my entire career, most of my life, pushing and advocating and fighting on behalf of the people and against injustice and inertia; what’s wrong in New York, and what’s stopping the people in power from changing it,” Williams said Tuesday. “I’m proud to have had many successes in that fight.”

Williams might get his chance at a rematch against Governor Kathy Hochul after losing the 2018 Democratic Primary vote for lieutenant governor of New York by 6.8 percent. 

His 2018 running mate, actress and activist, Cynthia Nixon lost the 2018 Democratic Primary vote to former Gov. Andrew Cuomo by 31 percent.

After a two-year tenure as New York City Public Advocate, Williams said he is exploring a run for governor as New York recovers from a pandemic and “move[s] forward from an era of toxicity, of scandal, of ego, and personality standing in the way of progress,” he said. 

“I’ve always been dedicated to public service, and over the coming weeks, I’m considering how best I can serve in that work to renew New York.”

A son of Grenadian immigrants, Williams graduated from Brooklyn College with a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in urban policy and administration. 

He has served as the executive director of New York State Tenants & Neighbors, the interim executive director of the East Flatbush Community Development Corporation, the housing director for the Flatbush Development Corporation, and the assistant director of the Greater Flatbush Beacon School. 

Williams was elected as a New York City councilmember from 2009-2019, representing New York City’s 45th district in Brooklyn. He has served as the vice chair of the City Council’s Black, Latino and Asian Caucus and a founder of the council’s Progressive Caucus.

As councilman one of the first issues he addressed was NYPD’s controversial policy of “stop-and-frisk” by sponsoring the Community Safety Act. The “Ban the Box” legislation sponsored by Williams made it illegal for employers to ask job applicants about criminal convictions before making them a job offer.

He became well-known publicly after his visit to a 2011 “Occupy Wall Street” protest where he was shoved by the NYPD. Williams was arrested at a protest against the detainment of immigrant rights leader Ravi Ragbir by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Manhattan in 2018.  

When former New York City Public Advocate Letitia James won the 2018 election for New York State Attorney General, Williams won the 2018 special election to replace her as New York City Public Advocate.

Williams is personally pro-life but believes women have the right to choose. Williams has also been criticized in the past for what his political opponents call his conservative views. 

Williams’ advisory committee will include Brad Lander, New York City Council Member and Democratic nominee for New York City comptroller; Antonio Reynoso, New York City Council member and Democratic nominee for Brooklyn Borough President; and Tiffany Garriga, Second Ward Alderwoman and Majority Leader of the Hudson Common Council.

Ina  Democratic primary, Williams could face Hochul, as well as New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Attorney General Letitia James, who have expressed an interest in running for governor next year.

“It’s going to take bold, principled, consistent progressive leadership to get us through these next months and years,” Williams said. “The culture that created, enabled, and empowered Andrew Cuomo and his administration, and others like him is still there. 

“Andrew Cuomo’s Albany is still there. We need to reject the systems and people that created this leadership crisis in order to move New York forward and better serve New Yorkers.”