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James To Be First African-American Woman To Hold Citywide Office

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Facing no Republican opponent, City Councilwoman Letitia James cruised to victory in the race for public advocate and will become the first African-American woman to hold citywide office. NY1's Jon Weinstein filed the following report.

There may not have been much suspense, but that didn't make the victory any less sweet. Letitia James is now officially the public advocate-elect, making history as the first African-American woman elected to citywide office.

"It means that we broke through the glass ceiling, and it means that all things are possible," James said.

Supporters spent election night partying in Gowanus.

James, who battled five opponents in a hard-fought Democratic primary and defeated state Senator Daniel Squadron in a bitter runoff, overwhelmingly beat seven challengers from smaller parties.

"Really, this office and the campaign was all about what Tish has done in her career," said campaign adviser Eduardo Castell. "Has been a fighter for people, has been a spokesperson, has been there supporting folks who don't have a voice."

"Letitia James, I think in many ways, was already the public advocate for New York City for a lot of years," said City Comptroller John Liu. "Now, she's just formally adding the title."

James now turns her attention to the job at hand. Public advocate is a somewhat obscure position, with a small budget, but she will be first in line to succeed Bill de Blasio if he leaves office. The public advocate can propose legislation and technically presides over the City Council.

Ultimately, James said she views it as a spot to advance the issues she cares most passionately about.

"I would love to have an army of attorneys making sure that people have access to programs, looking at social justice cases and impact cases, and pattern and practice cases, and really making sure that government is transparent," James said.

In January, James will be sworn in as the fourth public advocate in the city's history. Two of her predecessors, Mark Green and Bill de Blasio, went on to win the Democratic nomination for mayor, with varying degrees of success. James said that she's not thinking about that. Instead, she's relishing this win.

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