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Dr. Mary Bassett resigns as New York state health commissioner

Democrat Brian Benjamin Sworn-In As New York Lieutenant Governor

 Brian Benjamin is sworn in as New York's new lieutenant governor.
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Governor's Flickr page
Brian Benjamin is sworn in as New York's new lieutenant governor.

After nearly two terms as the state’s lieutenant governor, New York Governor Kathy Hochul officially swore in her replacement Thursday morning. Hochul tapped Harlem state Senator Brian Benjamin, a fellow Democrat, in a move she said would help the administration balance the needs of upstate and downstate. Hochul says she will run for a full term in 2022, which Benjamin echoed.

"That's why I found a person that knows what it's like to struggle, to work hard, to make something of his life, and to now return his service to his community," Hochul said before the ceremony. "That is, my friends, is the American dream. How someone who started out with little, rose to where he is today, but now turns back and doesn't think about himself. He thinks about how he can serve, not just his senatorial district, but now he'll be helping me serve 20 million New Yorkers."

Benjamin, who was in his second term from the 30th district, vowed to make the new role more than a ceremonial position.

"I know there is only the thought that the lieutenant governor doesn't have a robust portfolio. Let me just say, when Kathy Hochul was lieutenant governor, she had a very robust portfolio," Benjamin said. "She was in Harlem, all over the city, but particularly in my district, helping our small businesses and I want to thank you for that and I want to thank you for bringing me to the table right now to say, 'Let's focus on a couple of things I want you to take a leadership role on.'"

After the ceremony, Benjamin said his priorities will be urging New Yorkers to get vaccinated against COVID-19, ensuring the distribution of assistance to renters and landlords, and leading a taskforce on improving the New York City Housing Authority.