In Our Opinion
Sep 09, 2009 | 7409 views | 0 0 comments | 58 58 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The race for Public Advocate has been lackluster at best. It has thoroughly failed to capture the interest of voters, most of whom have focused on the mayoral and comptroller races, and a score of heated council campaigns.

It shouldn’t have happened this way.

The four candidates running for public advocate are a talented bunch, and not without charisma.

Mark Green will forever be the city’s first public advocate, and in campaign stops he doesn’t let anyone forget it.

Council members Bill deBlasio and Eric Gioia have fought for a range of high-profile issues that have placed them squarely in the spotlight. Both are persuasive public speakers, capable of captivating an audience.

And Norman Siegel (whom this paper endorsed), has a wealth of advocacy experience colorful anecdotes dating back more than four decades.

Yet none have pulled away as the people’s clear favorite, mainly because after months of campaigning the people still don’t know much about the position itself.

What does the public advocate do, exactly?

The public advocate, first in line to the mayor, is the city’s independent ombudsman, or go-between, responsible for bringing citizen concerns to the attention of city government. It is an independent office with broad oversight powers, and the right public advocate can use turn it into an effective bully pulpit.

None of the candidates have made this clear, or the office compelling enough to interest the voting public, which is a shame. If Norman Siegel is elected, he would do a fine job. But, like his opponents, Siegel would also have to find new ways to make the office relevant.

Unless someone does so, the next election for public advocate will be even more boring and uneventful than this year’s.

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