Even the city’s new public advocate, Jumaane Williams, agrees that the process through which he won — and now must quickly run again — needs to be changed.
“People are so annoyed at this process,” he told NY1 on Wednesday. “It’s a ridiculous process, and we’ve got to look at this to change it.”
He couldn’t be more right. In fact, that should be his first priority. But Williams is already busy running in a June primary and then the general in November.
Fewer than one in 10 registered voters turned out for Tuesday’s special election to replace Letitia James, which will cost taxpayers north of $20 million to fill an office whose annual budget is just $3.5 million.
That’s a spectacular waste of money. All it really does is give Williams a leg up in the 2021 mayoral race. Which is appropriate, since the office of public advocate is little more than a springboard for higher office.
Yet, per the City Charter, a vacancy in the office (like the one that opened when James became attorney general) must be filled via nonpartisan special election within 90 days.
But the city wouldn’t suffer a whit if the office (basically just a bully pulpit) stayed vacant until November — or all the way to 2021. Or if the winner of the special election served out the remainder of his/her predecessor’s term. Save taxpayers a boatload of cash now wasted on election expenses and the outlandish 8:1 matching funds.
Indeed, public matching funds accounted for 73 percent of all “donations” in this race — more than in any prior citywide race.
We’d rather see the charter amended to abolish the office, but at least avoid a repeat of this lunacy.
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