New York City Public Advocate

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Public Advocate of the City of New York
Flag of New York City.svg
Flag of New York City
Incumbent
Letitia James

since January 1, 2014
Term length Four years; may serve two consecutive terms
Inaugural holder Mark J. Green
Formation 1993
Salary $165,000
Website advocate.nyc.gov

The office of Public Advocate for the City of New York is a citywide elected position in New York City, which is first in line to succeed the Mayor. The office serves as a direct link between the electorate and city government, effectively acting as an ombudsman, or "watchdog," for New Yorkers.

History[edit]

The office was created in 1993, when the New York City Council voted to rename the position of President of the City Council. Following the City Charter revision of 1989 which eliminated the powerful New York City Board of Estimate on which the President held a seat, the post was seen as largely ceremonial; its only notable responsibility was to cast the deciding vote in the City Council in the unlikely event of a tie. At the time, it was thought likely that the post would be abolished altogether.[1] The position survived, and has been held by Democrats throughout its history. Mark Green was the first Public Advocate and served through his unsuccessful run for Mayor in 2001. He was succeeded by Betsy Gotbaum. The 2009 election to succeed Gotbaum was highly competitive and was won by Bill de Blasio, who later became the first Public Advocate to win the Mayor's office. In November 2013, Brooklyn Councilwoman Letitia James was elected Public Advocate.

Duties[edit]

The Public Advocate is a non-voting member of the New York City Council with the right to introduce and co-sponsor legislation. Prior to a 2002 charter revision, the Public Advocate was also the presiding officer of the Council.[2] The Public Advocate also serves as an ombudsman for city government, providing oversight for city agencies, investigating citizens' complaints about city services and making proposals to address perceived shortcomings or failures of those services. These duties, worded somewhat ambiguously, are laid out in Section 24 of the City Charter. The Public Advocate serves on the committee which selects the director of the Independent Budget Office and appoints members to several boards and commissions, including one member of the New York City Planning Commission. The Public Advocate also serves as chair of the Commission of Public Information and Communication (COPIC) established by Section 1061 of the New York City Charter.

Along with the Mayor and the Comptroller, the Public Advocate is one of three municipal offices elected by all the city's voters.

List of Public Advocates[edit]

Name Term of Office Party Affiliation
Mark J. Green January 1, 1994 – December 31, 2001 Democratic
Betsy Gotbaum January 1, 2002 – December 31, 2009 Democratic
Bill de Blasio January 1, 2010 – December 31, 2013 Democratic
Letitia James January 1, 2014 – present Democratic

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Raab, Selwyn (January 30, 1993). "'President' Is Confusing; Council May Alter Title". The New York Times. Retrieved December 3, 2010. 
  2. ^ Cardwell, Diane. "Betsy Gotbaum, the Advocate, Struggles to Reach Her Public". Retrieved 14 January 2013. 

External links[edit]