Thursday, October 02, 2014

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Five Democratic Candidates Making Case To Be City's Next Public Advocate

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While the race for mayor and city comptroller are receiving plenty of attention, the fight to be the city's next public advocate. Five candidates are competing in the Democratic primary, and they will square off in a live televised debate on NY1 on Thursday night at 7 p.m. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.

The city's public advocate is second in the line to the mayor. It's an important office, but the race to succeed Bill de Blasio, who is now running for mayor, has been overshadowed by the other two citywide races.

City Councilwoman Letitia James, who is running for public advocate, says it's a race people should pay more attention to.

"You know, I think with the two tabloid candidates that received a lot of attention, and I think it's important that people understand that what we need in the city of New York, in addition to a strong mayor and a strong comptroller, we need a strong public advocate."

State Senator Daniel Squadron is also running for the citywide position. This week, a glowing endorsement from his mentor, Sen. Charles Schumer, hit the airwaves.

"Look, as public advocate, your essential role is to take on issues and individuals who don't have anywhere else to turn across the city, and that's a unique role," Squadron said.

One-time congressional candidate and prolific Democratic fundraiser Reshma Saujani said she is focused on getting the vote out for her.

"We're exactly where we want to be in the race," Saujani said. "We have built an incredible field operation. You see that right here, where we have volunteers calling into the ADs that we are focused on. Almost 450 full-time volunteers on our campaign."

Cathy Guerriero, a college professor, calls herself the faith-based candidate.

"We have the most endorsements of anyone, many times over," Guerriero said. "I'm the unequivocal union candidate, 40-plus unions and counting. I'm the faith-based candidate, dozens of faith-based leaders around the city."

Rounding out the race is Sidique Wai.

"I was born in the Republic of Sierra Leone in West Africa as a first-generation African-American," Wai said. "This country has been very, very good to me, and I want to give back."

The public advocate is one of three citywide elected offices. Only three people have held the position since it was created in 1989. The public advocate can introduce legislation to the City Council but cannot vote.

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