Manhattan State Sen. Brian A. Benjamin (D-Harlem, East Harlem, El Barrio, Upper West Side, Washington Heights, Hamilton Heights, Morningside Heights) announced last Thursday that he intends to succeed term-limited Comptroller Scott Stringer (D) following next year’s elections, inviting endorsements from many prominent Harlemites.
In his announcement, Benjamin expressed confidence in his ability to serve as the city’s chief financial officer. “I will be ready on day one to zealously protect the retirements of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, and to use the position of Comptroller to advance progressive ideals of justice and equity for all,” he said.
Reverend Michael A. Walrond Jr. of the First Corinthian Baptist Church welcomed the announcement, asserting Benjamin’s intimate knowledge of community issues. “Brian has an intimate understanding of the struggles voters experience because of lack of access, disenfranchisement, and at times, governmental neglect,” he said. “New Yorkers are seeking competence in leaders who share their values. Brian is that leader.”
City Councilmember Bill Perkins (D-Central Harlem, Morningside Heights, Upper West Side, East Harlem) agreed, calling him “a proud fighter for his community who is never afraid to take stand.”
“In these uncertain times, we can trust Brian to lead with backbone on behalf of all New Yorkers,” said Perkins.
Greg Floyd, Teamsters Local 237 President, insisted that Benjamin is the best-equipped candidate for the office based on current challenges. “Union members throughout the city have been on the frontlines of pandemic and need to be on the frontlines when rebuilding the local economy,” he said. “The New York City Comptroller is an important office for the labor movement and I am confident that we will have a true partner in Brian.”
As did Councilmember Diana Ayala (D-El Barrio/East Harlem, Bronx). “We are experiencing an equity crisis right now that has only been exacerbated by the covid-19 pandemic and the economic collapse,” she said.
“Brian’s experience and his values are needed to create an economy that will work for all New Yorkers, especially our most vulnerable.”
Senator Robert Jackson (D-Washington Heights, Inwood, Marble Hill, Hamilton Heights, Harlem, Morningside Heights, the Upper West Side, Hell’s Kitchen, Chelsea) called him “a true leader for the Upper West Side who has shown how to translate good intentions into true progressive results for the people.”
Hazel Dukes, President of the NAACP New York State Conference, expressed support for Benjamin’s prior work on racial justice issues. “Whether it was housing justice, equity in our public schools, or even more recently with the movement for Black Lives- Brian and I have been in the trenches together for many fights. This is why I am wholeheartedly putting my support behind his campaign for Comptroller,” she said.
Assemblymember Al Taylor (D-Harlem, Washington Heights) confirmed Dukes’ sentiments, highlighting their cooperation on such legislation. “Brian is a colleague of mine in Albany and together we have worked to create policies that improved access for residents in our beloved Harlem community,” said Taylor.
“In his relatively short tenure, he has championed progressive, history-making legislation including the Tenant Protection Act and the Eric Garner Anti-Choke Hold Act. We need his vision and tenacity in the New York City Comptroller’s office,” said Taylor.
Korey Wise, a civil rights activist and former Central Park Five suspect, agreed. “Brian has made criminal justice reform a key priority while in the Senate and he is dedicated to continuing his advocacy as Controller by ensuring that the NYPD procurement process is transparent and use the power of the audit to hold law enforcement accountable,” he said.
Keith Wright, Leader of the Manhattan Democratic Party, summed up his own feelings and his fellow endorsers of Benjamin’s candidacy. “We want for the next New York City Comptroller to demonstrate deep commitment to both social justice and community,” he said.
“From his time as President of the Community Board to his work as State Senator, Brian has fiercely advocated for the needs of Harlem residents. I believe the entire city should benefit from his leadership.”
Also running in the comptroller thus far are City Councilmember Brad Lander (D-Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Gowanus, Kensington) and State Sen. Kevin Parker (D-Flatbush, East Flatbush, Midwood, Ditmas Park, Kensington, Windsor Terrace, Park Slope.
Editor’s Note: This story first written for KCP sister site, NewYorkCountyPolitics.com.