By NAN Staff Writer
News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Thurs. June 17, 2021: He is a child of Caribbean immigrants and is using that heritage as well as his experience in investment banking and politics, to make the case on why he should be New York City’s next comptroller.
Democratic New York State Senator Brian Benjamin is the child of immigrants from Jamaica and Guyana. He was born in Harlem, NY and now wants to be New York City’s next comptroller.
Though they didn’t have a college education, his parents found 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, Benjamin 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.
He then spent three years working in investment banking at Morgan Stanley, working in financial management, advising non-profit 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, Benjamin 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.
This Caribbean American New Yorker then 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.
He then 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.
In 2017, Benjamin ran for and won a vacant seat on the New York City Council. Benjamin then ran to succeed Senator Bill Perkins in Harlem’s district 30 in the NY State Senate.
In the New York State Senate, he 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. He currently serves as the chair of the Budget and Revenue committee, and as Senior Assistant Majority Leader.
Benjamin has also been on the frontlines of police reform. On the anniversary of George Floyd’s death, he highlighted some of the bills he helped introduced or advocate for including the Disclosure of Police Settlements bill (which makes police settlements publicly available), the Eric Garner Anti-Chokehold Act (which makes it a felony in New York for police officers to use chokeholds), Repeal of 50-a (which makes police disciplinary records public) and the Wandering Officers Act (which prevents officers who have been fired or resigned in other states from being re-hired as police officers in New York State).
“As the child of Caribbean immigrants who came to this country seeking opportunity, my parents were able to provide a life for our family thanks to the unions that gave them good-paying jobs and protected their rights,” he has said.
Benjamin has won the endorsement of Local 1549 DC37 as NYC’s early voting continues through June 20th. He insists that if he is elected NYC’s comptroller, he will ensure the city’s pension funds are also invested in the Caribbean.
“Protecting the pensions of our city’s hard-working union employees is personal for me, and I’ll put my unmatched experience in investment management to work for the people of New York City as the next Comptroller,” said Benjamin.
Primary day is June 22nd. More than 180,000 absentee ballots have been mailed out for the primary, but it’s not clear yet how many of those are for the Democratic primaries. The June primary will be the first citywide election in New York City using ranked-choice voting. The Board of Elections has said it may take until mid-July to determine which candidate won the election because of the rules for absentee ballot returns.