Democratic Candidate for New York City Comptroller
Brian Benjamin worked for three years as an investment advisor at Morgan Stanley before pivoting to a role at a private developer of public housing in Harlem, where he continues to have an advisory relationship. He chaired his Community Board and was then elected to represent Harlem and part of the Upper West Side in the State Assembly. Benjamin served as Chair of the Budget and Revenues Committee in the State Assembly and considers himself a leader on criminal justice reform. Benjamin is in favor of defunding the police.
- Current member of the NY State Senate representing District 30 (Harlem)
- Chairman of Committee on Revenue and Budget
- Former Managing Director of Genesis Companies, a minority-owned business focused on building affordable housing in Harlem
- MBA, Harvard Business School
- 3 years as a Financial Advisor at Morgan Stanley
- Managing Director of Genesis Companies
Benjamin has faced several accusations of conflict of interest or other unethical behavior over the years.
- Benjamin has faced significant controversy over alleged ongoing financial ties to his former affordable housing development firm while serving as a State Senator; the firm announced he remains on the payroll as a consultant yet Benjamin has denied receiving payment for this service. Critics have also noted this firm manages properties with hundreds of code violations.
- Benjamin has attracted controversy over his role in a non-profit that was alleged to be a front for supporting several Harlem politicians.
- In 2021 a coalition of 34 progressive groups, including the Democratic Socialists of America, tried to have him removed as Chairman of the Committee on Revenue and Budget due to a conflict of interest over stock and compensation he continues to receive from NextPoint (a subprime lender).
- Benjamin’s top priorities include improving the investment returns of the pension funds while simultaneously showing a preference for investing in companies that reflect the “values of NY” such as renewable energy and building affordable housing (Benjamin has a background as a partner at a for-profit firm developing affordable housing.)
- Benjamin’s first priority would be to audit the NYPD to uncover spending that does not align with his perception of New Yorker’s values.
- In addition to the NYPD, Benjamin would prioritize audits of New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA – public housing), the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and the Department of Education.
- Advocates for creating a public bank run by New York City that would focus on making loans that the commercial banks consider undesirable.
- In the State senate Benjamin has been an advocate of defunding the police and has pushed for substantial changes to laws impacting the formerly incarcerated, including restoring voting rights to parolees and allowing convicted felons to serve on juries.
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What does the Mayor do?
Serves as the Chief Executive The mayor has the power to appoint and remove the commissioners of more than 40 city agencies including the police, fire, education, sanitation, health and more. The mayor also has full control over the city’s public schools.
Sets budget priorities for billions of dollars The mayor and the City Council determine how city’s money should be allocated, what departments should grow or shrink, which programs should be expanded or contracted and how big the municipal workforce should be.
Manages relationships with state and federal lawmakers The mayor serves as the city’s advocate, champion and negotiator, fostering productive relationships with state and federal lawmakers.
The mayor also proposes, enacts and vetos laws, oversees major zoning, land use and housing policy decisions and make judicial appointments.
What does the District Attorney do?
The office is responsible for the prosecution of violations of New York state laws (federal law violations in Manhattan are prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York).
A DA's duties typically include reviewing police arrest reports, deciding whether to bring criminal charges against arrested people, and prosecuting criminal cases in court. The DA may also supervise other attorneys, called Deputy District Attorneys or Assistant District Attorneys.
What does the Public Advocate do?
The public advocate is a non-voting member of the New York City Council with the right to introduce and co-sponsor legislation.
The public advocate also serves as an an ombudsman for city government, providing oversight for city agencies, investigating citizens' complaints about city services and making proposals to address perceived shortcomings or failures of those services.
Along with the Mayor and the Comptroller, the public advocate is one of three municipal offices elected by all the city's voters. In the event of a vacancy or incapacity of the mayor, the public advocate is first in line to become mayor.
What do City Council Members do?
From Woodlawn to Coney Island, every neighborhood in New York City is part of a Council District. There are 51 of these Districts, each represented by an elected Council Member.
Council Members Introduce and vote on legislation (proposed laws) having to do with all aspects of City life; negotiate the City's budget with the Mayor and approve its adoption; monitor City agencies such as the Department of Education and the NYPD to make sure they're effectively serving New Yorkers; and review land use and making decisions about the growth and development of our city.
What makes a good Comptroller?
- Complex Managerial Experience — Leads a staff of about 800 employees across all various skill sets including accountants, attorneys, economists, engineers, IT professionals, etc.
- Sound Investment Strategy — Serves as the Chief Investment Officer who has the final say in how the City’s five public pension funds totaling approximately $250 billion in assets are invested.
- Track Record of Transparency & Accountability — Serves as the fiscal “watchdog” — overseeing the auditing team for the entire City, with the power to hold the City accountable when contractors/agencies are falling short. Approves all City contracts and reviews performance.
- Government Experience (City & State) — Understands complex interplay between agencies and lawmakers. Responsible for resolving legal claims on behalf of and against the City.
- Budgeting — Advises the City on any potential developments affecting the city’s fiscal outlook, e.g. relocation of businesses outside NYC, issuing municipal debt. Sets and enforces the prevailing wage.
Robert E. Cornegy, Jr.
What does the Borough President do?
Each Borough President advises the mayor on issues relating to their respective borough. They propose legislation, zoning changes, city-wide budget recommendations, and influence direction for land-use. Borough presidents also appoint members to the New York City Planning Commission, and members to other local boards including community boards.