NEW YORK — He is on the ballot for a new term as Public Advocate, but Jumaane Williams is currently eyeing a higher office, exploring a run for governor next year.

What You Need To Know

  • Jumaane Williams is seeking reelection, while this is Devi Nampiaparampil’s first run for office

  • The candidates debated about school safety, the COVID-19 mandate and Rikers Island in a live debate on NY1

  • The Public Advocate is a city watchdog with the power to introduce legislation in the City Council

  • Early voting will start this Saturday

“I want the voters to understand that this is something that I’m very seriously considering so they can think about that when they go into the voting booth,” Williams said Tuesday in a live debate on NY1. “But I want to be clear: I’m running for reelection for Public Advocate.”

At the debate, Williams, a Democrat, faced his Republican challenger Devi Nampiaparampil, a physician who’s running for office for the first time.

“New Yorkers deserve someone who is focused on crime, the economy, the issues that are specific to New York City,” Nampiaparampil said. “If you are running for governor, there’s also the fact that you will be distracted campaigning for governor, and then the cost to taxpayers.”

Williams and Nampiaparampil debated about school safety, funding for the NYPD and the COVID-19 vaccine mandate, which the Republican called divisive.

“I would end the mandate," Nampiaparampil said. "I’m not against the vaccine, but I think that you should try to talk to people and convince them to do something. That’s the role of government.”

Williams disagreed with his challenger, backing the vaccine mandate for public employees.

“We have vaccine mandates in place right now, we are just adding another one so we can save people’s lives,” Williams said.

First in line of succession were the mayor to die or become incapacitated, the Public Advocate has limited powers, a city watchdog with the ability to introduce legislation in the City Council.

That didn’t stop Nampiaparampil from blaming Williams for the recent safety problems in the Rikers Island jail complex.

“This happened on your administration watch, on your watch,” she said. “How do you create such a lose, lose, lose situation with this mismanagement?”

“I’m not sure if this is the best understanding of the role of the Public Advocate, but I’m happy to lay out all of the tools that we have, and I very much have used those tools to the best of our capability,” Williams responded.

The office of Public Advocate has also been a stepping stone for higher office: Bill de Blasio served for one term before getting elected mayor, and Letitia James went to become the state attorney general.

Early voting will start this Saturday.

Election Day will be Nov. 2.


Watch the full debate above.


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