Governor Kathy Hochul has formally announced her choice for Lieutenant Governor. On Thursday, Hochul officially confirmed reports that she had picked progressive democrat and Harlem native Brian Benjamin as her number two. Senator Benjamin and Governor Hochul have a history of cooperation; the duo previously worked together to combat the opioid epidemic by establishing and strengthening addiction recovery programs across the state, and also collaborated on initiatives to make voting more accessible to New York residents.
Senator Benjamin previously served as the New York State Senator for District 30 – which encompasses Harlem, East Harlem, and the Upper West Side – Chairman of the Senate Committee on Revenue and Budget and Senior Assistant Majority Leader.
“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,” said Governor Hochul when announcing her decision. “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 Senator Benjamin. “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.”
Senator Benjamin was born in Harlem to a Caribbean mother who came to the U.S. seeking new opportunities. After graduating from high school in New York City, Senator Benjamin earned his undergraduate degree in Public Policy from Brown University and his MBA from Harvard Business School.
During his time in the New York State Senate, Senator Benjamin successfully pushed for the divestment of the state public pension funds from private prisons in 2018, 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. Senator Benjamin’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 civil servants.