New York: Jumaane Williams' Victory Speech after Public Advocate race

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Jumaane Williams. Photo: Facebook.

Jumaane Williams' Victory Speech after Winning Public Advocate Race

After winning the general election for Public Advocate, Jumaane Williams addressed an enthusiastic crowd of supporters in Flatbush at his victory party. Jumaane garnered over 77% of the vote, according to preliminary totals, with 100 percent of the precincts reporting and about 630,000 ballots cast.

"Thank you all so much - Feels like we were just here eight months ago!

We did it! Again!

I have so many people to thank, including my family, my staff, everyone who volunteered, everyone who came out to vote today - and a special thank you to Council Member Joe Borelli, for running a substantive race about our ideas and very different visions for the city.

We don't agree on much, but we do agree that we can fundamentally change what the Public Advocate can be. I want to make sure that by the time I'm done with my tenure here, no one ever questions again why we need a Public Advocate.

Over the last eight months, we've been hard at work trying to re-shape the office of Public Advocate - Over the next two years, we're going to continue our work to re-shape the City.

When I was here on election night eight months ago, I said that if I had started treating my own mental health years ago, I'd be married by now ... Well, it was worth the wait!

But I'm still working, because since then it's been clear around the city, we need to re-evaluate our own mental health. Whether it's police officers, losing their lives to suicide at record high rates, or our city's response to others in mental health crisis, and who we have responding.

These are among the issues I've taken on since getting into office, and it's such a privilege to be given the chance to continue to serve, because there's so much left to do.

When I look at the city, one I love, I see an affordable housing and homelessness crisis that's only getting worse. I see neighborhoods shifting as rents rise, students struggling for a high quality, equitable education. I see streets that are congested and streets that are dangerous and streets I may need to march down. I see communities pitted against each other, communities ignored, communities displaced.

My message to each of them, to all of you - New York is for you.

New York is for the young man in Queens who can't afford the subway fare, can't afford to miss work, and can't afford to fall into an unjust criminal justice system. New York is for the Bronx student who's worried about paying for CUNY - or paying for test prep. New York is for the single mom living in a Harlem NYCHA development and feeling left behind. New York is for the Staten Island family who sees their property tax rising while the super wealthy see cuts.

New York is for the Brooklyn boy who went from shouting in the streets to becoming Public Advocate... where he still shouts in the streets.

New York is for each of them - And I want to be a voice for all of them.

I won't always have all the answers. But my commitment to finding them will never be in question.

There are things I don't understand. I don't understand why NYCHA families have no heat, and no say in the changes to the 'authority.' I don't understand why we don't commit to a truly progressive affordable housing agenda, when 60,000 New Yorkers are sleeping in shelters tonight

I don't understand why the response to trans women of color being murdered - to the entire LGBT community under attack - is so inadequate. I don't understand why it takes five years to fire Daniel Pantaleo and even longer to figure out that we're asking our police to do too much.

I don't understand why we treat mental health crises as criminal actions instead of health emergencies. And I don't understand why people in power don't use that power to do the most good for the most people.

I don't understand all of these things... But I'm working on it.

I'm working on it just as I've been doing for decades - from a new office, with a new staff, but with that same activist energy. And it is tiring.

But today I want to talk about activism, and about long-fought progress. I know sometimes it feels like pushing the boulder up the hill. That the challenge is too great, the goals too difficult. At times like that, we need to think about the victories, and that's what we're recognizing here today.

I've had the honor of serving as your Public Advocate for the last eight months, and as the people's advocate in City Government for the last ten years.

In that time we've fought to end the abuses of stop question and frisk. We've passed affordable housing laws and tenant protections. We've put in place protections against discrimination based on military service and reproductive rights. We've given formerly incarcerated people a fair chance and many people a first chance.

We've done all that because of the combined power of people inside and outside of government, demanding transformational change.

We look at what we've done- And then we re-focus back on what's to come - and on the group of people standing with us. We're still here, we're still pushing.

Damnit, we're going to get that boulder to the top of the hill. Let's keep climbing. Tonight, let's celebrate. Tomorrow, let's get back to work."

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