Jumaane Williams has served as New York City’s Public Advocate since 2019. Prior, he represented the 45th District in the New York City Council, in Brooklyn, from 2009-2019.
Jumaane is a first-generation Brooklynite of Grenadian heritage. He was diagnosed with Tourette’s and ADHD at an early age but made it through the public school system from pre-school to masters. He attended Philippa Schuyler Middle School for the Gifted and Talented and Brooklyn Technical High School, then earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Brooklyn College. After graduating, Jumaane began his career as a community organiser by serving as the assistant director for the Greater Flatbush Beacon School, then later as the executive director of New York State Tenants & Neighbors, where he fought for truly affordable, income targeted housing across the city and state. In 2009, he began his career as an activist elected official in the New York City Council.
During his time at City Hall, Jumaane has championed landmark legislation that has resulted in transformational change. In his first term, Jumaane aimed to end the abuse of the NYPD’s use of stop, question and frisk by sponsoring the Community Safety Act. The legislation passed, despite a veto from then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and reformed the city’s police department by putting an end to unlawful practices typically used in communities of more colour, while creating the NYPD’s Office of Inspector General, charged with investigating unlawful or unethical practices within the department.
As Co-Chair of the Council’s Task Force to Combat Gun Violence, he helped create New York’s Crisis Management System, which funds Cure Violence Groups that work to reduce shootings through a multi-pronged approach. Since then, New York has become the safest city it has been in more than 50 years. As Chairman of the Council’s Housing and Buildings Committee, he challenged the de Blasio Administration’s affordable housing plan by advocating for more deeply targeted affordable housing to help prevent communities from being priced out of the five boroughs.
Throughout his three terms, Jumaane has stood shoulder to shoulder with marginalised communities fighting for justice and equity for all and has proven that he is not afraid to get arrested in the process. In fact, he has been arrested more than any other sitting elected official, fighting for women’s rights, immigration rights, housing rights, police injustices and more.
Jumaane recently ran for Lieutenant Governor of New York State, where his progressive campaign received more votes than any other candidate of colour in a statewide primary and was endorsed by grassroots groups and individuals across the nation, including US Senator Bernie Sanders, The New York Times, and countless elected officials, unions and advocacy groups. He ran against the political establishment to transform the office of Lieutenant Governor so that it mirrored the office of the New York City Public Advocate – one that served as a true watchdog for New Yorkers, not just a rubber stamp to the Governor.
After serving more than two decades as an advocate for the public, he is now running to officially become New York City’s next Public Advocate.