Harlem-born, Brian A. Benjamin, with his wife Cathleen, and their daughter Caroline beside him, is ready to take on the job of city comptroller, with a vision to use the powers of the office to create important changes that benefit all New Yorkers, and to maximize the pension returns for retirees.
The son of Caribbean nations, a Guyanese mother and Jamaican father, Benjamin, who copped an endorsement from former, well respected U.S. Rep Charles Rangel, said the city comptroller has the power to audit and investigate any spending of city resources, and as such, he will use this tool to effectively hold the mayor and City Council accountable, starting with an audit of the NYPD budget as soon as he asumes office.
By maximizing oversight of agencies such as the NYPD, NYCHA, the MTA, and the Department of Education, Benjamin said he will reveal budgetary investments “that do not reflect our values and shine a light on waste and mismanagement that is harming New Yorkers.” Benjamin is a former affordable-housing developer, investment advisor, and community board chair.
A Harvard Business School graduate, Benjamin, who spent his career working to improve his community, as the NYS senator for the 30th District, successfully fought to divest the state’s public pension funds from for-profit prisons, and has been a leader on tenant protections and criminal justice reform.
Benjamin serves as presiding officer of the NYS Senate and is the chair of the Committee on Budget and Revenue.
He is the only candidate in this race with relevant investment management experience, and he is concerned about the state of the pension fund. Last year, the fund did not reach its required return of seven percent, meaning that hundreds of millions of dollars must be transferred to the fund that could have gone to other important priorities, said Benjamin.
Managing a pension system valued at over $229 billion is central to the job, and Benjamin is well prepared to step up to this task on day one, he said.
The politician, is adamant that he will target investments to create affordable housing, noting that two percent of the pension fund is supposed to be invested in economically targeted investments.
As comptroller, Benjamin said he will roll out a plan to invest in developing new income targeting affordable housing projects as well as permanent supportive housing to shift resources from temporary shelters, for the homeless.
Benjamin who founded the grassroots organization Harlem for Obama 2007, helping to raise a reported $250,000, said he knows how to achieve this goal because he helped finance the construction and rehabilitation of more than 1,000 units of environmentally sustainable affordable housing, which included housing for the homeless, before being elected senator.