Early-bird contenders vie for Canarsie councilman’s seat

They’ve got their eyes on his prize!

A handful of hopefuls are already jockeying to succeed Councilman Jumaane Williams (D–Canarsie), weeks before he would leave office if voters elect him to the citywide position of Public Advocate in a February special election.

Mayor DeBlasio on Dec. 29 officially set the city’s first nonpartisan election for Feb. 26 — but that has not stopped at least six eager beavers from making moves to replace Williams, who also represents parts of Flatbush, Flatlands, and Midwood, and was among the first to declare his candidacy in the race that now features more than a dozen competitors.

Early birds looking to succeed Williams include his Deputy Chief of Staff Farah Louis; Monique Chandler-Waterman, the founder of community-advocacy group East Flatbush Village; Xamayla Rose, a campaign consultant for former Borough President Markowitz; and Crown Heights lawyer Anthony Alexis, according to a Jan. 3 City and State New York report.

And days later, the president of Brooklyn’s chapter of the Black Lives Matter organization, Anthony Beckford, joined the fray by announcing his candidacy on Monday.

Both the premature race to replace Williams — and the Public Advocate race itself — will only likely heat up over the coming weeks, now that former Public Advocate Letitia “Tish” James officially vacated the position to be sworn in as New York State’s Attorney General on Jan. 6, and as two planned February debates hosted by the city’s Campaign Finance Board approach, according to Board spokesman Matt Sollars.

Meanwhile, the watchdog role will be filled by Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D–Manhattan) until voters elect James’s official replacement.

Williams moved even closer to the front of the pack of Advocate contenders after recently earning endorsements from both self-proclaimed progressive and more traditional Dems.

Bushwick’s new Democratic Socialist state Sen. Julia Salazar, the influential Thomas Jefferson Democratic Club, and Kings County Democratic Party Boss Frank Seddio all pledged their support for Williams, following his December endorsement by clubs the New Kings Democrats and the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats.

The Canarsie legislator also won the backing of the city’s first Public Advocate, Mark Green, who held the office from 1994-2001.

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He’s banking on all things green.

Another Brooklynite running for Public Advocate, Councilman Rafael Espinal (D–Bushwick), posited himself as the green candidate on Tuesday by announcing a slate of environmental policies he would introduce if elected to the office.

Espinal’s platform includes a bill to create a jobs program that will train young New Yorkers in how to install green infrastructure — such as solar panels, roof gardens, and wind-energy equipment — at commercial and residential buildings across the city, starting with public-housing complexes, he said.

The pol believes that introducing such legislation in the citywide role would give it a greater chance of passing than if he proposed it while in an office that represents a set district, according to his spokesman.

“The Public Advocate platform is citywide, so the councilman would have the platform to stand up and make it for the whole city,” said Robin Campbell, who added that Espinal may still introduce the bill if he does not win the February election.

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Felder’s been snubbed — again!

Midwood state Sen. Simcha Felder, who won a fourth term in November after running on the Democratic, Republican, and Conservative party lines, will be a lone figure in Albany’s upper house this year, because its new true-blue majority refuses to welcome the turncoat legislator into their conference after his years of caucusing with the GOP to give that party a majority, according to a New York Daily News report.

Dems hold a comfortable majority in the state Senate without Felder, and are focusing on a more progressive agenda that seemingly does not require the bipartisan pol’s support, according to Senate Democratic spokesman Mike Murphy.

“New Yorkers elected the largest Democratic majority in memory, consisting of candidates who ran on a robust progressive agenda and proudly sought election as members of our conference,” he told the Daily News. “As such, we have decided to remain a 39-member majority.”

The state Senate’s new Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins (D–Westchester) may have sealed Felder’s fate last month, when she snubbed him by handing out leadership positions to all Brooklyn Democrats in the chamber, except for him.

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It’s another early start!

A Bedford-Stuyvesant Councilman who in November pulled out of the Public Advocate race after expressing early interest in the seat recently threw his hat into another ring — the 2021 contest for borough president.

Councilman Robert Cornegy (D–Bedford Stuyvesant) — who in 2017 lost a bid for Council Speaker to Manhattan Dem Corey Johnson — officially set his sights on Borough Hall by recently filing paperwork to run for the role of Brooklyn’s top pol, according to a City and State New York report.

Cornegy is the first elected official to publicly eye the seat, but with many legislators’ terms expiring in 2021, he is likely to see competition from several of his colleagues.

Formerly incarcerated Crown Heights preacher and activist Lamor Whitehead-Miller also announced his candidacy to replace Borough President Adams, who has made no secret about his aspirations to move across the East River and succeed Mayor DeBlasio when his second-term expires at the end of that year.

Reach reporter Kevin Duggan at (718) 260–2511 or by e-mail at kduggan@schnepsmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @kduggan16.