A Costly Run-Off

Councilwoman Letitia James won an election earlier this week, but it seems like very few people actually cared.

James defeated State Sen. Daniel Squadron in the run-off for the Democratic nomination for Public Advocate Tuesday night. James and Squadron led the pack of five candidates after Sept. 10’s Primary election, but neither were able to garner 40 percent of the vote. So, the City held a run-off election earlier this week, drawing in less than 190,000 voters.

As a point of reference, James garnered nearly that many votes herself on Sept. 10, while Squadron trailed not far behind.

But because of antiquated election laws, the City spent an estimated $13 million for Tuesday’s run-off, for a position allocated just more than $2 million.

With no Republican running in the Nov. 5 General Election, James’ win on Tuesday means that she is virtually guaranteed to be sworn in as Public Advocate. While no candidate was able to sway a majority of voters on Sept. 10, Tuesday’s results mean that a miniscule fraction of the City’s voters determined the fate of the position.

While some will say that the position is unnecessary – we did so last week, in fact – the Public Advocate is the individual who will take over in the event that the Mayor cannot perform his duties. With that in mind, should we not come up with a more efficient and cost-effective way to determine the position?

Should someone elected by such a small percentage of voters be a heartbeat away from being Mayor?
Perhaps the first cause our new Public Advocate should take up is reforming election policies.