The race for Public Advocate has a new Brooklyn darling stepping up for the position in the form of Assemblywoman Latrice Walker (D-Brownsville).
Walker officially announced her candidacy for the position last night, as she looks to succeed Attorney General-elect Letitia James as the city’s public advocate in a special election for the seat expected in February.
“I am extremely proud to be a candidate for New York City Public Advocate. I will never hesitate to stand up to the Mayor and take him on whenever he neglects the needs of any community, or wherever I see the inhumane treatment of any group of New Yorkers,” said Walker.
The longtime state lawmaker joins a packed field of candidates including City Council members Jumaane Williams (D-Flatbush, East Flatbush, Midwood), and Rafael Espinal (D-Bushwick, East New York, Crown Heights, Brownsville, Cypress Hills, Bedford-Stuyvesant) as well as former Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who most recently announced.
In recent years, the position has been used as a springboard for politicians looking to become major players in state and local government including as a route to Mayor. Mayor Bill de Blasio himself held the position before being elected to Mayor in 2013.
“Justice, fairness and equity are the values that guide me as a mother, as a community leader, and as an Assemblywoman, and they are the values that will shape my service and vision as New York City’s next Public Advocate,” added Walker.
The office of public advocate was first created in 1993 and serves as a direct link between the electorate and their elected officials by acting as a watchdog for all New Yorkers.
The public advocate acts as an ombudsman for city government, providing oversight for city agencies, investigating citizens’ complaints about city services and making proposals to address any shortcomings or failures of those services. It is also the first in line to succeed the Mayor.
A lifelong advocate and practicing attorney, Walker has worked to preserve and create affordable housing and affordable homeownership opportunities, while fighting for residents of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA). The Brooklynite herself was born and raised in Prospect Plaza, a housing development demolished under a Federal HOPE VI grant, giving Walker firsthand experience in the effects of displacement and the need for adequate representation.
“My campaign is about fighting injustice wherever it may occur, in any community throughout our city. Whether you are a NYCHA resident in the South Bronx without heat, a parent on the Upper West Side who wants the best education for your children, a senior in Clinton Hill without access to quality healthcare, a grandparent in Staten Island concerned about the environment you will leave to your grandchildren, or a subway rider from Far Rockaway who can’t get to work on time, I will be your advocate, your agitator, your litigator and your legislator,” concluded Walker.
Walker was elected to the New York State Assembly in a special election in 2014 for Assembly District 55, which covers Brownsville, Ocean Hill, Bedford Stuyvesant, Bushwick, Crown Heights, East Flatbush, Cypress Hills and East New York.
Walker received immediate support from her collegaue also representing Brownsville, City Council Member Alicka Ampry-Samuel.
“At a time when this country is so divided and New Yorkers are experiencing devious levels of disenfranchisent; we need leaders who represent the voices of our most vulnerable. As a practicing attorney, legislator and single mother, Assemblywoman Latrice Walker has been a fierce leader for countless families, seniors and youth for years,” said Ampry-Samuel.
“I have witnessed this woman rush to defend young people in night arraignments then wake up and drive to Albany to introduce key legislation from voting rights to bail reform. I know what she brings to the table and I will carry that message across the five boros,” she added.
In the assembly, Walker is a member of the Housing, Election Law, Energy, Correction, and Insurance Committees and serves as the Chair for the Subcommittee on Renewable Energy. Walker also serves as the Chair for the New York State Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators.
Walker currently is a member of the New York Bar and a founding member of the Ocean Hill-Brownsville Coalition of Young Professionals.