The Challenger: Jumaane Williams Declares Race for New York Lieutenant Governor

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Selfie-time. Williams with supporters outside City Hall.

 

New York City Council Member Jumaane D. Williams declared his candidacy for the office of Lieutenant Governor of New York State on the steps of City Hall in Manhattan today.

He was endorsed by several elected officials and other prominent New Yorkers state-wide. Some of the elected officials, activists, and community members joined him on the steps of City Hall.

Williams, a progressive Democrat who is currently serving his third term in the New York City Council, announced last month that he would explore a run for the position. Since then, he has visited a number of cities around the state, meeting with local activists and progressive organizations. He cited the energy and response that he has seen around the state as one of the reasons for his decision to formally enter the race.

"Today, I am proud to announce that I am running to become the lieutenant governor of the state of New York," Williams said before about 100 community members. "The Lieutenant Governor position needs to be more than ribbon cutting and rubber stamping. I want to be the people's advocate in Albany, pushing the governor and the legislature to enact the progressive policies that are the promise of our state. I want to represent the diverse needs of the people of our state-- and by the way, our state government could use some diversity."

Williams represents a challenge to the present administration from the left. He has long been a critic of Governor Andrew Cuomo and other officials who he says "put on a progressive cloak" when it is politically expedient and "test the political winds" rather than acting on their core beliefs. In announcing his candidacy, Williams argued that the Capitol needs people who will help to "create those political winds."

"Since I announced a month ago, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, that I was considering this effort, I've received an outpouring of support, both here in the city and across the state- from activists, elected officials, and everyday New Yorkers yearning for progressive change," Williams added. "Now I know that this race will be challenging, but I've never been one who backs down from a challenge- in fact, I seem to go looking for them. I believe that no matter who the governor is, we're going to need a person who will be the people's lieutenant governor, always pushing forward. And I believe that I am that person."

Several of Williams' initial endorsers spoke out on his behalf at the announcement event, including State Senator Kevin Parker, Council Members Daneek Miller and Antonio Reynoso, and activists including Anthonine Pierre, Kirsten Foy, and Eddie Kay. Williams' sister, Jeanine Williams, also spoke at the event.

The following elected officials and community leaders offered their endorsement for Williams' campaign:

Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte (D-Brooklyn): "I've had the privilege of working closely with Jumaane Williams for years, fighting for justice, inclusion, equity, and more on behalf of the people of Brooklyn. His voice, his advocacy, and his determination are what we need leading throughout NY State, and I am proud to endorse him as our next Lieutenant Governor."

State Senator Kevin Parker (D-Brooklyn): "There are few people in government that are as fearless, or as effective, in working on behalf of the people of New York than Jumaane Williams. I've seen that passion as I've worked beside him to take on many issues in his time as a Council Member, and I'm excited by the prospect of working with him as Lieutenant Governor in Albany. I'm excited to continue to work with him on issues of public safety, fighting discrimination, protecting our environment, and more."

NYC Council Member Adrienne Adams (D-Queens): "Council Member Williams' strengths as a committed elected official, fiercely advocating for the people of New York is absolute. He has pushed forward towards justice on issues of race, housing, policing, and immigration. His unwavering, unapologetic activism on behalf of progressive issues is courageous, forthright and admirable. He is exactly what is needed in New York State leadership and I am happy to endorse him for Lieutenant Governor."

"Jumaane Williams is the strongest, clearest, and most fearless voice for justice that I know in elected office. I've been proud to work as his partner for more than a decade, for safety and justice, for affordable housing, for economic opportunity, and much more. For safety and justice, he led the effort to end discriminatory stop-and-frisk,  establish the NYPD Inspector General, and ban profiling based on race, gender, immigration status, sexual orientation, or gender identity. For affordability, he has fought tirelessly to strengthen the rent laws and to make our housing policies better serve those most in need. For opportunity, he led the fight for summer youth jobs. For the change we want in Albany, we need a clear voice unafraid to speak truth to power. Jumaane is that voice. I'm honored to support him in his bid to become our Lieutenant Governor."- NYC Council Member Brad Lander (D-Brooklyn)

"In all of my time working alongside him, Jumaane has been a fierce advocate for working people across our city, and I know that he will carry that conviction into Albany as the Lieutenant Governor of our state. New York City needs a partner in progress in the State Capitol, and Council Member Williams will be that partner. I am proud to support him and to work with him, taking on the issues facing the working people in our city and across our state."
-NYC Council Member I. Daneek Miller (D-Queens)

"Jumaane Williams has always stood strong for all communities, in his activism and in the Council. He is a tireless collaborator who uses every tool he has to take on issues, and brings everyone to the table to help develop solutions that work for all. I know that this is the kind of passionate spirit and expertise that he'll bring to the Capitol as Lieutenant Governor."-Council Member Antonio Reynoso (D-Brooklyn)

"Jumaane Williams is a fighter for the little guy, whether workers fighting for their collective rights or individuals fighting against discrimination. I stand beside him as he takes that that fight to Albany, and know he'll utilize the position of Lieutenant Governor as more than the Governor's mouthpiece- his voice is one for the people."-Eddie Kay, Labor Activist and Organizer

"For too long, voices calling out for progressive action in Western New York have fallen on deaf ears. Council Member Williams not only listens to progressive voices, but amplifies them. He believes in the power of the people, as evidenced by his steadfast support for Participatory Budgeting, reducing incarceration rates and taking to the streets against the 1% during Flood Wall Street; he helps to empower the people to act. I'm proud to support him for Lieutenant Governor because I believe that he will be the people's advocate."-Natasha Soto of Just Resisting in Buffalo and Co-Chair of Jumaane4NY Buffalo

"I've known Jumaane as a friend, an ally, a collaborator, a champion for the people in our communities who have been victimized, or left behind, or forgotten. Not only does does he raise his voice in outrage, but he moves people to action and sees real, positive, lasting change as a result. No one will be a stronger force on the side of equity and justice than Jumaane Williams."- Minister Kirsten Foy, Activist

"Across the state, from downstate to my hometown of Brighton in Western New York , people are struggling with many of the same core issues. They need housing, and the ability to stay in that housing without harassment. They need to feel safe in the streets, while also feeling protected against police misconduct. They need to be fairly for a good job, and to send their children to quality schools. Jumaane Williams recognizes that these needs are universal, and has been fighting for them for years. I support him wholeheartedly as he takes those fights to Albany."
-Brighton, NY Town Councilperson Robin Reynolds-Wilt

"The issues to which Council Member Williams has dedicated much of his career- affordable housing, gun violence, and policing to name a few- are also critical issues for the City of Syracuse. It's energizing to have a strong leader who is working across the state to find common solutions to our common problems. As Lieutenant Governor, I know that Council Member Williams will bring renewed focus to these and other important issues. I'm excited and looking forward to working alongside him."-Syracuse, NY Common Councilor and President Pro Tempore Khalid Bey


"There is a profound lack of diversity in the highest levels of our government on a federal, state, and local level. This imbalance has led to the issues of people of color being underrepresented, our communities forgotten. Jumaane Williams, as Lieutenant Governor, will be a much-needed champion for communities across New York, regardless of color, creed, or income level."-Bertha Louis, Activist

"Syracuse and all of New York, is facing serious problems with dire consequences; homelessness, gun violence, communities trapped in financial hardships and neighborhoods that are traditionally left behind. Bringing these issues to the forefront of our state government takes bold, fresh leadership from persons possessing an understanding of these issues at their core. Jumaane Williams has been fighting these types of battles, earning victories for the people of New York City for years and I am excited to support his campaign for Lieutenant Governor of the great State of New York."-Syracuse Common Councilor Latoya Allen

"Progressive reformers are needed in all our communities, from Brooklyn to Buffalo. Here in Cheektowaga, I'm glad to know that I have an ally in Council Member Jumaane Williams. He's not afraid to push the establishment further on the crucial issues of the day. I look forward to helping him in that push for progress statewide, and I support his campaign for Lieutenant Governor."
-Cheektowaga, NY Town Council Member Brian Nowak

Alexander Wright, Activist and Co-Chair of Jumaane4NY Buffalo: "There has been no progress without struggle. Struggle between what's right and what's convenient. Right has a cost that most refuse to pay. It is refreshing to have someone on the front lines, who understands the cost and has paid it time and again. uffalo has suffered from a profound lack of true, committed progressives at the highest levels of our government. Council Member Jumaane Williams has demonstrated an ability to create transformational change with the office he holds, and I believe that he will bring that much-needed change to the Lieutenant Governor's office."

In his eight years as a member of the New York City Council, Williams has been a fierce advocate for affordable housing and tenant protections. Referring to himself as an "activist elected official," he has passed a robust and diverse portfolio of legislation, including landmark legislation in police reform and worker safety, and helped to create anti-gun violence programs which have led New York City to its lowest crime rates in decades. Williams was recently re-elected to a third term representing the 45th District in the City Council, earning 96% percent of the vote.

In New York State, candidates for Governor and Lieutenant Governor run separately in the primary, with the winners of each party's nomination forming a joint ticket for the general election. Incumbent Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul has indicated that she plans to run for reelection, but has not yet made a formal announcement.

"Now today, I've talked a lot about myself- my campaign, my candidacy," Williams said, in concluding remarks. "But the truth is, every gain I've made has been because of the people behind me, the people who had my back. Do what you can, with what you have, for as many people as you have the privilege of serving, for as long you can  And together, we can do a whole lot. It's not me, it's us. Together. Together, we can prove that activist energy can overcome establishment money. Together, we can reject the politics of cautious inaction. Together we can amplify the voices of all those who aren't being heard in New York. Together, we can renew focus on our most basic principles of justice, and equity. Together, we can win this campaign to bring true progressivism to the Capitol."

"It's Time. Let's Go."

 

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