‘We shook up the world’: Williams

Williams applauds mayor’s bid to reduce unnecessary arrest for marijuana
Brooklyn Councilman Jumaane Williams.
Photo by Tequila Minsky

A day after he lost a spirited bid to become lieutenant governor of New York State, Brooklyn Councilman Jumaane Williams says his campaign “shook up the world.”

Williams, the son of Grenadian immigrants, on Thursday lost the New York Democratic Party elections to the incumbent Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, a former US Congresswoman from upstate Buffalo, by six percentage points.

“We shook up the world,” said Williams, who represents the predominantly Caribbean 45th Council District in Brooklyn, in a “Thank You” letter on Friday to friends and supporters. “We took on the New York political machine while running on pure activist energy and small-dollar contributions.

“Yesterday, we saw 640,000 New Yorkers come to the polls and vote for our shared vision for bringing an advocate for the people into Albany [New York State capital],” he added.

Though polls had given Hochul a huge lead over Williams going into Thursday’s Democratic Primary, preliminary estimates Thursday night had put Williams, a self-described activist politician, as receiving 538,611 votes, or 47 percent, to Hochul’s 600,823 votes, or 53 percent.

But the revised estimates on Friday gave Hochul a 6.6 percent lead over Williams.

With 1, 375, 222 votes cast in the Primary, Hochul finally received 733,591, or 53.3 percent, to Williams’s 641,631 votes, or 46.7 percent.

“We shattered turnout records and expectations, and we won New York City by more than all mayoral candidates combined in the 2013 elections,” Williams said. “We also received more votes than any person of more color ever in a statewide Primary. And we very nearly won.

“Thank you,” he added. “None of that was possible without all of you giving your time, your talent, your resources and your energy.

“This was only possible because you believed in our campaign, in the ideals that we fought for, and will continue to fight for,” Williams continued. “Together, our campaign accomplished so much.”

He said his campaigned “reshaped the political landscape in New York,” stating that “progressive, activist energy is at an all-time high.

“We all did that together,” Williams said. “We decimated the IDC [Independent Democratic Caucus], and our new true-blue senators will bring real change to Albany.”

Political pundits said if Williams had defeated Hochul, it would have generated a very uncomfortable situation for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who handsomely beat activist Cynthia Nixon in the primary.

Though the governor and the lieutenant governor run on separate tickets in the primary, they usually contest the general elections in November on the same ticket.

While Williams had campaigned strongly against Cuomo’s policies, Hochul, on the other hand, touted much of the governor’s achievements.

The position of lieutenant governor, however, is largely ceremonial in New York.

In his letter, Williams said Cuomo now has “nowhere left to hide,” adding that “everyone is watching him now.”

Williams said he entered the race “to do what I’ve always done: be an advocate for the people who need a voice, who need to be uplifted.

“And no matter where I am or what my title is, that’s what I’m going to continue to do – be a megaphone for communities in need all across New York,” he said.

“I’m not sure that I can fully express my gratitude, which is endless,” Williams added. “But, for now, I’m asking us to all move forward – to make sure that the energy we put behind creating change carries through election day [in November]; that the causes we believe in are elevated and addressed.

“In and out of office, I’ve been causing a whole lot of what John Lewis [US congressman and civil rights activist] would call ‘good trouble’ for many years,” Williams continued. “And I tell you, we can’t slow down now.

“I’m so proud of what we’ve already accomplished, and I can’t wait to see what’s next,” he said. “Let’s be troublemakers.”

Williams had campaigned on holding elected officials accountable and ensuring that New York state government is “always working in the best interest of the people who need it the most, not the wealthy corporation and the politicians.”

If he was elected, Williams said he would have pushed “our state to lead from the front on progressive issues, be a voice for the most vulnerable in our State, and promote equality and justice for all.”

In the age of US President Donald J. Trump, he said “New York must do more.”

Williams said he had a plan to do more by making healthcare more accessible to all; protect women’s rights and empower them to lead; make housing more affordable for all; and “protect the hard-fought gains of immigrant, the formerly incarcerated, the LGBTQ communities.”

In addition, he said he would have, among other things, improved the quality of New York’s education system; protected the environment from “destruction and corporate takeover”; protected the voting rights of all citizens; strengthened labor organizations in their fight for the work; and protected communities from gun violence.

Williams had received a large swath of endorsements from elected officials, labor unions and publications across New York State.

A week before the primary, former US presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders endorsed him.

In endorsing Williams, the prestigious New York Times said he was the Democratic Party’s “best bet for Lieutenant Governor” of New York State.

The editorial board of the Times — which represents the opinions of the board, its editor and the publisher, and is separate from the newsroom and the Op-Ed section — said Williams, “an independent-minded New York City Council member, has shown that he can be a real leader and is the right choice for lieutenant governor in the Democratic Primary.”

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