NYC 2013: The Public Advocate Race Comes to a Close

By Savannah Pees and Anna Schierenbeck

On Tuesday, October 1st, the first floor center section was blocked off again for an election, but fewer voters visited Brooklyn Tech than on September 10th for the primaries. Public advocate elections have not drawn a large number of voters out to the polls in past years, but the 2013 runoff saw an unusually low turnout.

After neither City Councilwoman Letitia James nor State Senator Daniel Squadron, the two Democratic candidates for public advocate, received 40% or more of the vote on September 10th, a mandatory runoff was scheduled. James, with 36%, held a slim lead over Squadron, who had 34% of the vote.1 In past elections, the public advocate’s election runoff often accrued more votes, because of higher profile mayoral runoffs that were held on the same date.

After Bill Thompson conceded the race six days after the September 10th primary, current Public Advocate Bill de Blasio secured the Democratic nomination. It then became clear that the public advocate candidates, James and Squadron, would not only have to fight for votes, but also for turnout.

Less than 200,000 people voted last Tuesday, a fraction of the city’s eight million residents. This is a disappointing number, considering the $13 million spent to hold the election and that the public advocate’s budget is only $2.3 million, according to The New York Times. The high cost of a runoff that garnered so few votes has led many New Yorkers to consider to the instant runoff system used by some states and foreign nations.

Both campaigns led Get Out the Vote efforts in the weeks before the runoff, leading canvasses, phone banks, and visibility events from 9 AM to 9 PM in the three days leading up to the election.

Councilwoman James won the race, with 59.5% to Squadron’s 40.5%.  She will run uncontested on November 5th in the general election, virtually guaranteeing that she will be the next Public Advocate.

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1 “High-Cost Runoff for Public Advocates Post Prompts Calls for Reform.” nytimes. The

New York Times, 9 September 2013. Web. 1 October 2013.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/30/nyregion/high-cost-runoff-for-public-advocates-post-
prompts-calls-for-reform.html?_r=0

2 “GOTV Events,” Letitia James 2013. 29 Septemebr 2013. Web. 1 October 2013. http://

www.letitiajames2013.com/gotv_events

3 “Get Out the Vote for Daniel!” Squadron for New York. 29 September 2013. Web. 1

October 2013. http://squadronfornewyork.com/runoffvols

4 “City Councilwoman Is Chosen in the Democratic Runoff for Public Advocate,” nytimes,

The New York Times, 1 October 2013. Web. 1 October 2013.

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