10 Candidates Qualify for the First Official Debate of the 2019 Public Advocate Special Election


The NYC Campaign Finance Board (CFB) announces that 10 candidates have met the financial threshold to participate in the first official debate of the 2019 Public Advocate Special Election, airing Wednesday, February 6, at 7:00 p.m. 

The 10 candidates who have met the nonpartisan objective criteria for the debate are:

  • Michael Blake
  • Rafael Espinal Jr.
  • Ron Kim
  • Nomiki Konst
  • Melissa Mark-Viverito
  • Daniel O'Donnell
  • Ydanis Rodriguez
  • Dawn Smalls
  • Eric Ulrich
  • Jumaane Williams 

Each candidate is participating in the matching funds program, which requires their participation in the debate program. In order to qualify for the first debate, candidates needed to have raised and spent $56,938 (1.25% of the expenditure limit) in compliance with city law as of Monday, January 21.

New Yorkers will vote in the special election on Tuesday, February 26.

The debate will be televised by Spectrum News NY1 and livestreamed on the NY1 website and on the NY1 Facebook page. The debates will be simulcast on NYC Life, the flagship station owned by the City of New York. The following co-sponsors will join NY1 in producing the debate: Spectrum NY1 Noticias, POLITICO New York, Citizens Union, Borough of Manhattan Community College, Latino Leadership Institute, The League of Women Voters of the City of New York, NAACP New York State Conference Metropolitan Council, and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., East Kings County Alumnae Chapter. 

The debate will be broadcast from the CUNY-TV studio in Manhattan (there will be no live audience for this debate). 

A second and final special election debate will air on Wednesday, February 20, at 7:00 pm. In order to qualify for this "leading contenders" debate, candidates must have raised and spent $170,813 (3.75% of the expenditure limit) as reflected in the campaign finance disclosure statement filed on Friday, February 15. In addition to the financial threshold, candidates must have received an endorsement from a City, State, or federal elected official who represents all or a portion of New York City, or have received an endorsement from one or more membership organizations with over 250 members residing in New York City, in order to qualify for the second debate.

The Debate Program, launched in 1997, calls for two debates prior to each citywide election to provide voters with the opportunity to compare candidates side-by-side. This is the first time since the CFB was established in 1988 that the city has held a special election for a citywide office.

The program is a core component of NYC Votes, the CFB’s nonpartisan voter engagement campaign. The CFB administers the Debate Program, and individual debates are sponsored by media outlets, civic groups, and academic institutions in order to reach as wide and diverse an audience as possible. The Board selected the sponsors after a thorough, competitive process. 

NYC Votes is the nonpartisan voter engagement initiative of the New York City Campaign Finance Board (CFB) and its Voter Assistance Advisory Committee (VAAC). In addition to promoting voter registration, participation, and civic engagement in New York City through its many programs and partnerships, NYC Votes sponsors the city’s official Debate Program and produces the citywide Voter Guide.