HARLEM, Manhattan (WABC) -- New York Governor Kathy Hochul officially named State Senator Brian Benjamin to be her lieutenant governor Thursday in Harlem.
The 44-year-old Benjamin is the senior assistant majority leader in the Senate.
He has represented Harlem since 2017. He placed fourth in the Democratic primary for comptroller earlier this year.
He is progressive, particularly on criminal justice reform, a counterweight to Hochul's more moderate background.
"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. 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."
Benjamin and Hochul have previously worked together on several key issues, including fighting the opioid epidemic and boosting addiction recovery programs, supporting MWBE business owners and making it easier for New Yorkers to vote.
"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," Governor Hochul said. "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."
Benjamin will become the state's second Black lieutenant governor.
New York Attorney General Letitia James released the following statement on the appointment"
"State Senator Brian Benjamin has long been a champion for communities in New York City, and as our next Lieutenant Governor, I know he will continue this fight for all New Yorkers. His track record and commitment to public service will help advance our state, and I look forward to working with him in his new capacity. Congratulations to our new Lieutenant Governor, Brian Benjamin. I know you will serve New Yorkers well."
The role of lieutenant governor in New York has long been largely ceremonial, with the officeholders traveling to ribbon-cutting ceremonies and town halls across the state. But the state's two most recent lieutenant governors have become governors following the resignations of their predecessors.
Benjamin is the son of Caribbean immigrants. He was born in Harlem Hospital and raised in the neighborhood, later earning a bachelor's degree in public policy from Brown University and a master's of business administration from Harvard Business School. He later worked as a developer of affordable housing.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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