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New York City Public Advocate

Public Advocate of the City of New York
Flag of New York City
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 Office of the 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.


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 is also charged with appointing members to various boards and commissions, including one member of the New York City Planning Commission. The Public Advocate serves on the committee which selects the director of the Independent Budget Office.

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

List of Public Advocates

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

See also


  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