Betsy Gotbaum bigraphy, stories - Officials

Betsy Gotbaum : biography


Betsy Gotbaum was the New York City Public Advocate. She was elected as Public Advocate for New York City in 2001, and reelected in 2005. A longtime civic leader, she is the third woman elected to a citywide post in NYC history. The other two were Carol Bellamy, who served as City Council President from 1978-1985, and Elizabeth Holtzman, who served as Comptroller from 1990-1993. She is a Democrat.

2005 Race for Public Advocate

In the September 13, 2005 Democratic primary, Gotbaum beat civil rights advocate Norman Siegel, and real estate broker Michael Brown came in third with fifteen percent of NYC's vote. She was unopposed in the general election. She took the oath of office for a second term on January 1, 2006.

2009 Race for Public Advocate

Despite the extension of New York City term limits, which made Gotbaum eligible for a third term, she decided not to run for reelection.


Upon taking office, she pledged to focus on five main policy areas—hunger, housing, child welfare, education, and women’s issues.

Throughout her career, Betsy Gotbaum has shown commitment to community service. She has served on the boards of innumerable not-for-profit organizations, including the Community Service Society; The Valley Recreation and Youth Development Program in Harlem; Goodwill Industries; and the Municipal Arts Society.

She also serves on the Board of Trustees for the Fisher Center for Alzheimer's Research Foundation and the Michael Stern Parkinson's Research Foundation. These organizations fund neuroscience research primarily at The Rockefeller University.

Early life

A native New Yorker, Betsy Gotbaum attended The Brearley School and graduated from The Masters School in Dobbs Ferry in 1956. She then attended Connecticut College for 2 years, followed by Barnard College. She then received her B.A. from George Washington University in 1961. After graduation, she moved to Recife, Brazil, where she taught high school English and mastered Spanish and Portuguese. She returned to New York several years later and earned a Masters Degree in Education from Teachers College, Columbia University.

Personal life

She has been married to former New York City labor leader Victor Gotbaum since 1977. Previously her name was Betsy Hogen, and she has one daughter from her first marriage. Her maiden name was Betsy Flower.Bellush and Bellush, Union Power and New York: Victor Gotbaum and District Council 37, 1984. She started an office blog, the Public Advocate's Corner, in September 2008.

On September 28, 2007, her daughter-in-law, Carol Gotbaum, died in custody shortly after she was arrested at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, after getting into a confrontation with gate crews who refused to allow her to board a plane to Tucson. In May 2008, the family filed a lawsuit against the City of Phoenix.

2001 NYC Democratic Ticket

  • Mayor: Mark J. Green
  • Public Advocate: Betsy Gotbaum
  • Comptroller: William Thompson

2005 NYC Democratic Ticket

  • Mayor: Fernando Ferrer
  • Public Advocate: Betsy Gotbaum
  • Comptroller: William Thompson

2010 Appearance in "The Lottery" Docudrama

Ms. Gotbaum was featured in this docudrama directed by Madeleine Sackler, in which she shared her views:

  • against charter schools--Charter schools are not the answer, poverty is the problem in the New York Education system
  • in favor of unions--“I think the union is a force in New York City as well it should be. I think the union is here to stay I don’t think it’s going anywhere. And I think to think that you can get rid of it is a mistake”
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Living octopus

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