The Office of Public Advocate for the City of New York is a citywide elected position in New York City, which is first in line to succeed the Mayor. The office serves as a direct link between the electorate and city government, effectively acting as an ombudsman, or "watchdog," for New Yorkers by providing oversight for city agencies, investigating citizens' complaints about city services and making proposals to address perceived shortcomings or failures of those services.
The Public Advocate is a non-voting member of the New York City Council with the right to introduce and co-sponsor legislation. The Public Advocate is also charged with appointing members to various boards and commissions, including one member of the New York City Planning Commission. The Public Advocate serves on the committee which selects the director of the Independent Budget Office. These duties are laid out in Section 24 of the City Charter.
On November 5, 2013, Letitia "Tish" James was elected as the fourth Public Advocate for the City of New York. She began her term on January 1, 2014.
The Office of the Public Advocate is divided into 5 divisions: Policy, Legal/ Litigation, Communications, Constituent Services, and Outreach.