With his family and Governor Kathy Hochul by his side, State Senator Brian Benjamin was sworn in as New York’s next lieutenant governor Thursday morning by U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres of the Southern District of New York.
Benjamin had represented the 30th District since 2017, when he won a special election for the seat. Benjamin had recently mounted a bid to be city comptroller, ultimately losing the Democratic nomination to Brad Lander, a city councilman. Hochul officially picked Benjamin to succeed her in the lieutenant governor role in late August.
Hochul opened the event by looking back at her eventful first two weeks as governor, which saw the state coping with the effects of Tropical Storm Ida and also the Delta variant.
“We have a lot on our plate,” she said.
Hochul said her administration intends to restore people’s trust in government, letting them know that “we believe that integrity is everything.” She hopes New Yorkers will look back on their tenure as “a shining time in our state’s history.”
“But I can’t do it alone. I need someone at my side. Someone who also I rely upon for their wisdom and their guidance and their local knowledge of issues,” Hochul said, specifically mentioning public housing and dealing with climate change.
She added, “It’s an extraordinary responsibility. I wouldn’t have asked you if I didn’t think you were up to the task, and I know you are.”
Once he was sworn in, Benjamin took the podium and thanked Hochul, saying that she has “shown so much leadership in the last few weeks.”
Benjamin named three areas that he has been asked to take the lead on in his new role: promoting COVID-19 vaccination in areas with higher rates of hesitancy, helping funds from the Emergency Rental Assistance Program reach people, and leading a NYCHA task force.
“New York State, I will do everything I can to make sure that those who are living at the margins, those who are struggling, those who are overlooked, will have a seat at the table,” Benjamin said. “And we will make sure that there’s fairness, accountability, and good, practical decision-making that governs our activities.”
Benjamin declined to weigh in on who he thought should replace him in his State Senate seat in Harlem, but said that he plans to run for a full term as lieutenant governor next year and will back Hochul in her bid as well.