Election 2013: Public Advocate candidates

Cathy Guerriero

Cathy Guerriero: Cathy Guerriero said that she is running for public advocate because it’s in her DNA.

“Twenty years ago, a professor asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I said that I wanted to run the city,” she recalled. “She said, ‘Good luck with that, kid. If would be nice if you knew something.”

That’s when Guerriero went to get her PhD is school politics. She is a teacher at Columbia University and worked for 10 years for the Archdiocese of New York.

As public advocate, Guerriero said she would stand up for small business owners.

“Small business owners are being killed by city government with tickets, regulations and fines,” she contended. “I have sat with small business communities asking them, ‘Tell me what you need.’ This is what they are telling me.”

Guerriero said that, if elected, she would add a think tank of 50 people to her office by hiring graduate students.  Thirty people would work as research fellows. “So when people on Third Avenue say that the tickets are killing them, I have the data to back it up,” Guerriero explained.

Another 10 people would be in an Ombudsman Wing and another 10 people –law students – would “reinvigorate a legal office, so we can bring cases.”

“You won’t save planet Earth as public advocate. You have a $2 million budget and a staff of 20, so you had better find a way to do a job that’s much maligned and undersourced,” Guerriero went on. “I’m the girl who shows up and I’m going to fight for you.”

Cathy Guerriero sat down for an in-person interview with this paper.


Letitia James

Letitia James: Councilmember Letitia “Tish” James, who represents the 35th Council District in Brooklyn, was born and raised in Brooklyn. After graduating from Howard University, James began her career in public service as a public defender with the Legal Aid Society. She later served as an assistant attorney general for New York State and was elected to the City Council in 2003.

As public advocate, James wants to expand the office by creating a Citywide Advocates Network, Crisis Intervention Center, Parental Education and Empowerment Program, Cyber Awareness and Protection Unit, Immigrant Support Unit and a Public Advocate at “Your Doorstep Initiative.”

James will stand up for poor people and working families who are being squeezed out of the city. She will fight for women’s rights and immigrants’ rights. She will take on power interests on behalf of everyday New Yorkers.

She will keep fighting to reform stop and frisk, and end racial profiling. James has done all of these things throughout her public service career and will continue to do so. She will continue to be the fighter for all New Yorkers as New York City public advocate.


Reshma Saujani

Reshma Saujani: Reshma Saujani, current deputy public advocate, is running for public advocate. She said that the office provides her with an opportunity to speak for the “most underserved and vulnerable.”

Saujani said that she will spend her time fighting for women and children, particularly focusing on education. She is founder of Girls Who Code, a non-profit that works “educate, inspire, and equip young women with the skills and resources to pursue academic and career opportunities in computing fields,” according to its site.

“Girls with no opportunities are getting jobs with Facebook, learning how to build websites and mobile apps,” Saujani said. “Not only that, they are teaching their parents. “

Saujani said that as public advocate, she could do a lot to create 21st century jobs in the city so the workforce can grow. The four key issues she will focus on are jobs, education, housing and women.

“Our tenants need representation,” Saujani said. “I will build an army of lawyers in my office who are committed to creating affordable housing.”

She will also fight for women’s rights. “There are so many women who are not able to put food on the table and they are the breadwinners,” Saujani said.

Saujani said she is the only person running for public advocate who actually has experience in the office. “The office is underfunded with a budget of less than $2 million and a staff of under 20 [employees]. People have to roll up their sleeves to get things done,” Saujani said. “I am the only person who will bring resources into this office.”

Reshma Saujani spoke with this paper over the phone.


Daniel Squadron

Daniel Squadron: Daniel Squadron, currently a state senator representing the 26th S.D. in Brooklyn and Manhattan, is a lifelong New Yorker. First elected to the State Senate in 2008, Squadron unseated a 30-year incumbent in a grassroots campaign for change and has gotten results as a progressive reformer.

Squadron’s dedication to public service began at an early age. His grandfather came through Ellis Island and his father, Howard Squadron, rose through poverty to become the chairperson of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Squadron now lives with his wife and son in Brooklyn.

Squadron has a proven track record of getting results for everyday New Yorkers — fighting corruption in Albany, writing landmark new gun laws and advocating for affordable housing, parks and public transportation. He has a plan to make the public advocate’s office more effective for children, seniors and regular families who need a voice in City Hall.

Squadron has been endorsed by New Yorkers across the city, including U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, for whom he previously worked, and former Public Advocates Mark Green and Betsy Gotbaum.

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