HARLEM, N.Y. (WROC) — Gov. Kathy Hochul has selected Brian Benjamin, a state senator from New York City, as her choice for lieutenant governor.
The governor’s selection was reported Wednesday, although neither of their offices would confirm the information.
“Happy to be here in Harlem to announce, and I think this is a secret, right?” Hochul said. “There’s no secrets,. I am so delighted to announce my partner, and the word partner means something to me. Someone who works side-by-side in the trenches, someone to be out there championing our policies and the administration’s agenda in every corner of the state, with a real focus on new York City.”
Benjamin is second to become the state’s second Black lieutenant governor, as Hochul herself became the first female governor in New York history when she was sworn into office on Tuesday.
“I never imagined in a million years that I would be standing here as the lieutenant governor of New York,” Benjamin said.
The Democratic state senator from Harlem has focused his legislative career on criminal justice reform and affordable housing. He’s also the Chair of the senate’s Revenue and Budget Committee.
Hochul said a formal swearing-in ceremony will be held for Benjamin after Labor Day, which is Monday, September 6.
“I believe that governing is about working together. Teamwork is the essence of effective leadership, and it is more important than ever as we confront the urgent problems facing the state,” Gov. Hochul said in a press release. “My administration is going to attract the best and the brightest — people who share my values of working hard for the people of this state and who will get the job done – and that includes the newest member Senator Brian Benjamin who has agreed to serve as my Lieutenant Governor. There is so much work to do, and I am grateful to have him by my side as we implement our vision for a safer, healthier and fairer New York.”
“I want to thank Governor Hochul for trusting me with the incredible honor of serving alongside her as Lieutenant Governor,” said State Sen. Benjamin in a press release. “Governor Hochul is a collaborator who makes sure everyone has a seat at the table, and, like me, is laser focused on listening to the needs of New Yorkers and empowering local leaders. We have a strong history of collaboration that will help us to hit the ground running immediately as we help guide New York through this challenging moment in history.”
Brian A. Benjamin is the New York State Senator for District 30, which encompasses Harlem, East Harlem, and the Upper West Side. He was born in Harlem to a Caribbean mother who came to this country seeking new opportunities. Though they didn’t have a college education, his parents were fortunate enough to find well-paying union jobs, which allowed them to provide Brian and his siblings with a middle class upbringing. After graduating from high school in New York City, Brian sought the quality education his parents had dreamed of providing him with, earning his undergraduate degree in Public Policy from Brown University and his MBA from Harvard Business School.
Brian spent three years working in investment banking at Morgan Stanley. There he worked in financial management, advising nonprofit and for profit organizations and individuals on how best to allocate hundreds of millions of dollars, exercising and honing his skills as an investment and financial adviser. Additionally, he worked in the division that issued and underwrote bonds, which is similar to the work he had done in the treasury department of manufacturing conglomerate after college.
Brian returned to Harlem to build affordable housing, creating over a thousand units of environmentally sustainable, affordable housing at an M/WBE while helping young people develop work skills and secure good construction jobs through community youth programs.
Brian is heavily involved in his community, having served as Chair of Community Board 10 and the Land Use Committee, a position he used to preserve the character of our community (such as his successful “Harlem not SOHA” campaign), and help keep Harlem affordable. He helped countless young people at Harlem’s Wadleigh High School achieve a brighter future since launching a mentoring program in 2013, and he is honored to serve as an alumni-elected trustee of Brown University. In addition to his work in the community, Brian has long been active in progressive politics, serving as a 2012 delegate for President Barack Obama and as a member of President Obama’s National Finance Committee. He also worked in finance, electoral politics, and interned in the office of Bill Lynch & Associates. Brian is an active member of Harlem’s historic First Corinthian Baptist Church.
In the New York State Senate, Brian has distinguished himself as a leader in criminal justice reform and affordable housing. In 2018 he successfully pushed for the divestment of the state public pension funds from private prisons, and the following year he introduced a bill to forbid state-chartered banks from such investments as well, which helped pressure Bank of America to end their relationship with Geo Group and Core Civic. Brian’s proposal to keep rent controlled apartments affordable was a part of the history-making Tenant Protection Act of 2019, the largest expansion of tenant’s rights in decades. In his first term, he served as ranking member of the Senate Committee on Civil Service and Pensions, where he looked to defend the public pensions of hard working public servants like his parents while ensuring the pension money was invested in a manner that reflected New York’s values. He currently serves as the chair of the Budget and Revenue committee, and as Senior Assistant Majority Leader.
After graduating from business school, Brian wanted to return to the neighborhood that gave his family a start in life over 40 years ago. It was Harlem Hospital that opened its doors to his pregnant mother without health insurance years ago, and while it’s a coincidence that Brian can see that same hospital from his office window in Harlem, it is purposeful that Brian looks to give back to New York as much as it has given to him.