Ozone Park representative announces bid for public advocate seat

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Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) dropped a campaign video Tuesday in Ozone Park officially announcing his run for the soon-to-be-vacated public advocate position.

“More than ever, New Yorkers are looking for someone to stand up to Mayor de Blasio,” said Ulrich in his campaign video on Dec. 11. “I believe that we as a city deserve better and I want to give a voice to the majority of New Yorkers who this mayor continues to ignore.”

The public advocate is a citywide elected official that serves as a check over city agencies (offices of the mayor, borough presidents, comptroller and more), introduces legislation and investigates civilian complaints, but lacks the power to vote on bills, according to advocate.nyc.gov.

“It’s no secret that special interest groups and lobbyists that are calling the shots at City Hall,” Ulrich said. “It must end and it can end.”

As a public advocate, Ulrich wants to cut property taxes, create more jobs and provide quality education to all children, according to his campaign newsletter.

Attorney General-elect Letitia James will step down as a public advocate on Jan. 1, 2019, as she swears into her new role as the chief legal officer of New York state, according to ballotpedia.org, a website that follows elections.

Per city protocol City Council Speaker Corey Johnson will serve as the temporary public advocate after James is sworn in until February 2019, which is when a special election is to take place, according to the council speaker’s office.

Johnson himself has expressed no interest in running for public advocate, according to his office.

Special elections for municipal seats don’t require a primary race, so anyone can run in this nonpartisan race, but in a sea of Democrats declaring their candidacy, Ulrich is one of two Republicans in the race, according to a candidate list from the city’s Campaign Finance Board. He is also the only elected Republican candidate in the race.

Walter Iwachiw, who unsuccessfully ran for both as mayor in 2017 and to represent Long Island City in the state Assembly in 2014, is the other Republican running for public advocate, according to ballotpedia.org.

As a councilman, Ulrich represents Belle Harbor, Breezy Point, Broad Channel, Howard Beach, Lindenwood, Neponsit, Richmond Hill, Rockaway Park, Roxbury, South Ozone Park, West Hamilton Beach, Woodhaven and Ozone Park.