The $13 million runoff election for Democrats to pick a Public Advocate candidate is Tuesday, October 1. City Council Member Letitia James got 36% of the vote during the primary and State Senator Daniel Squadron got 33%. And to help voters get a better sense of who they might be voting for, the pair are debating tonight in a special Campaign Finance Board debate.

As a refresher, check out our overview of the office of the Public Advocate and see where James and Squadron fall on the issues:

Think of the Public Advocate's office as the city's watchdog, making sure that government agencies and elected officials run things in ways that best suit the needs of the populace. That includes helping the public to navigate city bureaucracy, as well as fielding queries directed by 311 when the system can't handle the requests. The office also makes appointments to multiple committees, including city planning and management of retirement funds.

The Public Advocate is also ex-officio member of all the City Council committees, so they are able to introduce legislation but are unable to vote, leaving them somewhat at the whims the Speaker. Similarly, the office depends on the Speaker and the Mayor for its funding and the office has seen both financial and staff cuts in recent years. However, the Public Advocate is first in the line of succession should anything happen to the Mayor, at least until a special election can be held.

2013 Public Advocate Runoff Election Candidates:

  • Letitia James: Native New Yorker and City Council member representing Clinton Hill, Fort Greene and parts of Crown Heights, Prospect Heights and Bedford-Stuyvesant since 2004.

  • Daniel Squadron: New York State Senator for the 26th district, which represents most of Western Brooklyn and lower Manhattan.
  • Mouse-over icons for quotes from the candidates and more details about the questions.

    Do you rent?Do you have a pet?Do you bike?Do your kids attend public school?Do you ride public transportation?Victim of a crime?

    Letitia James
    City Councilmember

    Daniel Squadron
    State Senator

    What specific measures should the City take to prevent widespread destruction from Sandy-level storms?

    James: We should consider some of the Mayor's 250 recommendations, as unveiled in June, to protect low-lying areas like the Rockaways and Staten Island. We also need to invest in upgrading our City's infrastructure so should we experience another storm like Sandy we can limit loss and damage.

    Squadron: This requires a number of changes, from building codes to new infrastructure to even seeding our harbor with a billion oysters. And it also means dramatically improving preparedness in communities that were left behind during Sandy, including NYCHA developments, both when it comes to evacuations and to responding to needs in the aftermath of the storm.

    How would you lobby to modify the Bloomberg administration's waterfront development policy?

    James: Through legislation and hearings.

    Squadron: I would fight to expand the Harbor Park—a central park for the center of our city—and other waterfront revitalization to new neighborhoods, especially those that are often left behind when it comes to public parks and open spaces...I also believe that a true working waterfront is vital to our city's economy and would fight to ensure that water-dependent industries and the many jobs they create are not pushed out by big developers.

    How can the city reduce the number of teachers in "rubber rooms?"

    James: Hire more Administrative Law Judges.

    Squadron: No one supports having large numbers of teachers on the payroll and outside the classroom. The 2010 agreement to deal with this provides a path, but there must be the staffing and resources to deal with each case fairly and expeditiously.

    How would you increase transparency in New York City government for citizens and the press?

    Squadron: Increasing government transparency has been a cornerstone of my work...The Public Advocate has a unique role, inside city government but free of the bureaucracy. Just as I've done since I was first elected in 2008, I will bring an independent and transparent approach to the job of Public Advocate, allowing me to deliver meaningful results for the individuals, communities, and businesses that too often get left out by powerful interests and bureaucracy.

    Change Stop and Frisk?
    Inspector General?
    Free Speech Zones?
    More $ for Accident Investigation Squad?
    Drink on your own stoop?
    Drink in parks?
    Change bike lanes?
    Livery cab street hails in outer boroughs?
    Congestion pricing?
    Outdoor decks on SI ferry?
    Platform gates on subways?
    Salt ban?
    Soda ban?
    No smoking in parks?
    Restaurant letter grades?
    Styrofoam ban?
    Rebuild in flood-prone areas?
    Ban chain stores?
    NYCHA housing?
    Tax breaks for corporations?
    Public-private parks?
    Schools distributing morning after pills?
    Term limits?

    To read the candidates' full responses to our questionnaire, click below:

    Election charts designed by Aaron Marks

    Gothamist and our partners, NY1 News, NY1 Noticias, WNYC, Citizens Committee for New York City, Citizens Union, Hispanic Federation, and Transportation Alternatives are sponsoring tonight's Campaign Finance Board debate, which will air at 7 p.m. on NY1 and you can stream it online on Gothamist.