Seven Candidates Qualify for "Leading Contenders" Debate of the 2019 Public Advocate Special Election


The NYC Campaign Finance Board (CFB) announces that seven candidates have met the thresholds to participate in the "leading contenders" debate of the 2019 Public Advocate Special Election, airing Wednesday, February 20, at 7:00 p.m. The candidates who have met the nonpartisan objective criteria for the debate are:

  • Michael Blake
  • Rafael Espinal Jr.
  • Ron Kim
  • Nomiki Konst
  • Melissa Mark-Viverito
  • Dawn Smalls
  • Jumaane Williams 

Each candidate is participating in the matching funds program, which requires their participation in any debate for which they qualify. The qualification thresholds for this second, "leading contender" debate are as follows:

  • candidates must have raised and spent $170,813 (3.75% of the expenditure limit for Public Advocate) as reflected in the campaign finance disclosure statement filed by midnight on Friday, February 15;
  • 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 organizations with a membership of over 250 members residing in New York City.

The debate will be televised by Spectrum News NY1 and livestreamed on the NY1 website and on the NY1 Facebook page from the Borough of Manhattan Community College. 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 first debate of the Public Advocate Special Election was held on Wednesday, February 6. Viewers may watch the entirety of that debate via the NY1 Facebook page.

New Yorkers will vote in the special election on Tuesday, February 26. The city's official Voter Guide for this election is available at Voting.NYC. In addition to seeing profiles of candidates on the ballot, New Yorkers can use the site to look up their voting locations and learn about their voting rights.

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.