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New York City Public Advocate

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.

Public Advocate of the City of New York
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Flag of New York City
Letitia James 2013.jpg
Letitia James

since January 1, 2014
Term lengthFour years; may serve two consecutive terms
Inaugural holderMark J. Green
SuccessionFirst in the New York City mayoral line of succession



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.


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 New York City 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. In the event of a vacancy or incapacity of the Mayor, the Public Advocate is first in line to become mayor.[3]

List of Public AdvocatesEdit

# Name Term of office Party affiliation
1 Mark J. Green January 1, 1994 – December 31, 2001 Democratic
2 Betsy Gotbaum January 1, 2002 – December 31, 2009 Democratic
3 Bill de Blasio January 1, 2010 – December 31, 2013 Democratic
4 Letitia James January 1, 2014 – present Democratic

See alsoEdit


  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.
  3. ^ "The Mayor". What makes New York City run? : a citizen's guide to how city government works (trade)|format= requires |url= (help) (Third ed.). New York, N.Y.: League of Women Voters of the City of New York Education Fund. 2001. pp. 30–31. ISBN 0-916130-02-9.

External linksEdit