Kathy Hochul

Crowded field already forming for Williams’ council seat

Five candidates, including a Williams staffer, want to succeed the public advocate candidate.

Jumaane Williams

Jumaane Williams John McCarten

At least five candidates, betting that Jumaane Williams’ run for New York City public advocate will succeed, are already running for the New York City Council seat held by Williams.

District 45 covers the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Flatbush, East Flatbush, Flatlands, Midwood and Canarsie. Williams, a Democrat, has represented the district since 2010. His first bid for higher office, a challenge in the Democratic primary this year to Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, ultimately failed, but he came impressively close, outperforming his informal running mates Cynthia Nixon and Zephyr Teachout while raising his name recognition. Now he’s a frontrunner in the citywide Feb. 26 special election to replace Letitia James as public advocate.

If Williams wins, his City Council seat would be filled in a special election later this year, in a date that would be set by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Candidates to replace Williams include Farah Louis, Williams’ longtime deputy chief of staff; Monique Chandler-Waterman, founder and executive director of the social service nonprofit East Flatbush Village; Xamayla Rose, a campaign consultant who used to work for former Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz; Louis Cespedes, an architect who got 9 percent of the vote against Williams in 2017; and Anthony Alexis.

If Williams were to win in February, Louis would seem to be an early favorite to replace him, said Jerry Krase, professor emeritus at Brooklyn College and a historian of the borough. “Given his popularity and the amount of coverage he’s getting, his deputy would have the in on the district,” Krase told City & State.

But Krase said any election would likely come down to who wins the support of the Thomas Jefferson Democratic Club. Brooklyn Democratic Party boss Frank Seddio is a member, and Williams has a longstanding relationship with the club. “It’s probably the best organized and best supported club in the borough,” Krase said.

All five candidates for District 45 have registered campaign committees with the state Board of Elections. Most of the 51 City Council seats don’t have any declared candidates yet, as it is still three years away from the expected September 2021 primary election. Apart from Williams’ seat, only district 11 in the northwest Bronx has more than a single declared candidate. There, Eric Dinowitz and Daniel Padernacht are both hoping to succeed City Councilman Andrew Cohen in 2021.

Of course, Williams’ opponents for public advocate would say his would-be successors are getting ahead of themselves. More than two-dozen candidates, including heavy-hitters such as former City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Assemblyman Michael Blake, have entered the public advocate race.