Back in September of 2018, one of our American correspondents alerted us to this mailing from Danny O’Donnell, the Assembly Member from New York State’s 69th Assembly District:
Announcing an Exploratory Committee for the Office of New York City Public Advocate
As you may know, our current New York City Public Advocate, Letitia James, has won the Democratic nomination for New York State Attorney General. I will be supporting her against her Republican opponent in the General Election in November, ensuring that this important office stays blue in New York State. I’m confident Tish will secure a victory, and will be starting her new role on January 1st, thereby vacating the office of Public Advocate.
I have been incredibly lucky to serve you in the New York State Assembly for nearly sixteen years. However, I have grown concerned by the increased use of unchecked executive power – from the White House, to Albany, to right here at home in New York City.
Each time I observe an over-reach by an executive, I’m struck by the need for someone who provides checks and balances, and the importance of a truly independent person filling that role. Such a position requires a leader who can do the job boldly and demand accountability. Furthermore, because of the importance of the Public Advocate as a check to the Mayor, I firmly believe that the office should not be viewed as a springboard to the Mayor’s mansion. Just as important, we must demand a Public Advocate who pledges to refuse money from corporations and real estate interests.
We deserve a Public Advocate who will keep our city on track and hold a magnifying glass to promises made by our Mayor. The city has set many fast-approaching goals that the Public Advocate will need to make sure we meet, and some that we have a moral imperative to meet early:
2020 Ending the AIDS epidemic
2027 Closing Rikers Island
2030 Eliminating all trash to landfills
2050 Eliminating 80% of NYC’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions
We also deserve a Public Advocate who will bring a bullhorn to the corruption and disorganization of NYCHA, who will call for increased police transparency, and who will demand fairer and more inclusive city contracts.
I’ve never been afraid to call out those in power for acting out of self-interest instead of for the public good, even when it meant that I was the lone voice in the room. I’ve been proud to advocate in Albany for all New Yorkers over the last 16 years, where with your support we passed Marriage Equality and the Dignity for All Students Act; we lowered the speed limit to 25 MPH; and took away all guns from those convicted of domestic violence.
I’m ready to continue fighting for you as NYC Public Advocate. However, I believe all votes must be earned, and I keep my constituents in mind with each decision I make. That’s why as I continue to discuss this possible next step with my husband, family, and friends, I’d love to hear from you as well. Click here to share your thoughts on what the office of Public Advocate means to you and what you hope this next iteration of the role includes, or if you’d like to get involved!
I look forward to earning your vote.
Very truly yours,
Our correspondent replied as follows:
Dear Mr. O’Donnell,
- In your announcement, you refer to “unchecked executive power . . . right here at home in New York City.” Could you name a couple examples?
- You say “ . . . even when it meant that I was the lone voice in the room.” Can you provide some examples?
- You say “We also deserve a Public Advocate who will bring a bullhorn to the corruption and disorganization of NYCHA . . .” Can you list the times you spoke on the record about the problems at NYCHA?
- Controller Scott Stringer has issued several blistering reports about NYCHA.
- As Public Advocate, what could you do that Scott has not already done?
- What did you do in Albany to prevent Governor Cuomo’s systematic starvation of NYCHA funding?
- If you think that the problems at NYCHA are not state problems, shouldn’t you be running for City Council or Congress?
I look forward to your reply.
Having received no reply, our correspondent again sent the questions to Mr. O’Donnell in January. Nary a peep was heard from O’Donnell.
The Public Advocate election was finally held yesterday. Preliminary returns show that Jumaane Williams won the 17-way race with about 33% of the vote and that O’Donnell came in a distant 6th with about 2.9%.