‘All voices will be at the table': NY’s next Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin says he's ready to work at Hochul’s side
State Sen. Brian Benjamin will be sworn in as New York’s next lieutenant governor of the state next week, and he says he's ready to hit the ground running.
Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Benjamin as her choice on Thursday in Harlem, the district the senator serves and where he was born.
"You have a great leader in Gov. Hochul, I'm going to be at her side,” Benjamin says. “All voices will be at the table, all will be part of making sure that New York works."
The senator says “making New York work” means tackling the different issues facing the state as it enters a crucial time in the pandemic. First, he aims to get the vaccination rate up.
Benjamin believes some mandates are necessary, but also says outreach is key.
"Meet people where they are, have conversations with those who have some concerns and some fear and distrust of government. Let them know that this is safe and explain to them why,” he says.
As for the rent crisis, Benjamin agrees with Hochul about extending the eviction moratorium.
"We want to make sure that renters who have suffered during COVID, a lot of them, through no fault of their own, that they can be protected,” he says. “But at the same time, we want to make sure that landlords...their needs are met as well."
One issue on which the governor and Benjamin have had differing views is defunding the police. However, Benjamin says when it comes to safer streets, they're on the same page.
"We will make that happen. Safer streets is the answer,” he says. “We want to make sure our kids have public safety, and also want to make sure there's accountability across the board with every agency."
The safety of kids is also on many parents' minds as the new school year begins. Benjamin is a father himself, and despite some calls for a remote option, the future lieutenant governor clearly stated what he believes our kids need.
"I do believe we need to go back to full in-school learning. The governor has put forth a mask mandate, which I fully support,” he says.
With Hochul being the first governor without direct ties to New York City in years, some have speculated Benjamin's job is to represent the concerns of the five boroughs. He says in a way, it is.
"Quite frankly, one of the things she wanted from me is, she knows I've lived the New York City experience so she wants me to bring that to the table, so that when we're making decisions, it can be reflective of the entire needs of the state,” he says.
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