A citywide special election is a rare and unique thing. It’s a chance for the politically motivated to leapfrog the party power dynamics and run an independent campaign. That’s why the vacancy left by Letitia James, now the New York State Attorney General, has drawn no fewer than 23 candidates. According to the rules that govern special elections, each prospective candidate has to build up a campaign, create a party name (Pay People More, United for Immigrants, I Like Maio) and collect at least 3,750 valid signatures from registered voters in the five boroughs.

The ballot won’t be finalized until after the New York City Board of Elections meets next Tuesday—and handful of those hopefuls are likely to be knocked off the ballot for administrative technicalities and challenges filed by people opposing their candidacy.

Still, candidates are hitting the forum circuit talking up the different ways the Public Advocate’s office could tackle specific issues. Ten prospective candidates appeared at an event on Wednesday night at the New School. Sponsored by GMHC, the event focused on public health and issues impacting people living with HIV and AIDS.

The parade of candidates made for a circus-like atmosphere even before they started taking shots at each other. There was even a candidate on the stage who has no chance of appearing on the ballot in February because he failed to submit the necessary petitions.

Those eyeing the seat as a way into the political process attacked both the de Blasio administration and other candidates who are also elected officials that worked with him on issues like changing the city’s zoning regulations.

“You know it’s not a coincidence that we have record homelessness and record displacement under a mayor who, while he promises to provide affordable [housing], is out to rezone mainly neighborhoods of color with the support and buy-in of members of the City Council many of which are my opponents,” said David Eisenbach, a professor from Columbia and a prospective candidate.

Any registered voter regardless of party affiliation is eligible to vote in this race. Polls across the city will be open on Tuesday, February 26th.

Here are the candidates in the order in which they filed their petitions:

  1. Melissa Mark-Viverito, Fix the MTA, former City Council Speaker
  2. Michael Blake, For the People, an Assembly member from the Bronx
  3. Dawn Smalls, No More Delays: former lawyer in the Obama administration
  4. Eric Ulrich, Common Sense, Queens City Council member
  5. Daniel O’Donnell, Equality For All: Manhattan assemblyman
  6. Latrice Walker, People For Walker: Brooklyn assemblywoman
  7. Rafael Espinal, Jr., Livable City, Brooklyn city councilman and former Bernie Sanders delegate
  8. Jumaane Williams, The People’s Voice: Brooklyn city councilman
  9. Ron Kim, People Over Corporations, Queens Assembly member
  10. Ydanis Rodriguez, United for Immigrants: Manhattan city councilman
  11. Danniel S. Maio, I Like Maio, mapmaker and former congressional candidate
  12. Gary Popkin, Liberal, libertarian and retired professor
  13. Ben Yee, Community Empowerment, activist
  14. *Ifeoma Ike, People Over Profit, criminal justice activist
  15. A. Manny Alicandro, Better Leadership, lawyer
  16. Michael Zumbluskas, Fix MTA & NYCHA Now, Reform Party Leader
  17. David Eisenbach, Stop REBNY, Columbia University history professor and former candidate for public advocate
  18. Nomiki Konst, Pay People More, journalist and activist
  19. Jared Rich, Jared Rich For NYC: lawyer
  20. Anthony Tony Herbert, Housing Residents First,
  21. Walter N. Iwachiw, I4panyc, perennial candidate
  22. Theo Chino, Courage to Change, Self described French socialist and Bitcoin businessman
  23. Helal A. Sheikh, Friends of Helal, former city council candidate

*Suspended campaign

Brigid Bergin is the City Hall and politics reporter for WNYC. You can follow her on Twitter at @brigidbergin.