SD-30: Benjamin Endorsed By 1199

Democratic state Senate candidate Brian Benjamin was endorsed on Monday by 1199 SEIU, the influential labor union.

Benjamin is running for the 30th Senate district in Manhattan that was vacated earlier this year by Bill Perkins, who is now on the City Council.

“Healthcare workers are excited to support Brian Benjamin, a candidate who will bring fresh ideas and a depth of experience to the New York State Senate” said Helen Schaub, New York State Policy and Legislative Director of 1199SEIU. “As an organizer and community leader in upper Manhattan, Brian has advocated for greater economic opportunity and affordable housing, better wages and a more level playing field for all. He’s made clear his commitment to New York’s working families, and we are proud to offer our support.”

Benjamin, who has publicly stated he will join the mainline Democratic conference in the chamber, is the odds-on favorite to retain the seat for the party.

“My mother and father both immigrated to America in search of opportunity, and they found it thanks to organized labor,” Benjamin said. “Years of hard work and union support enabled them to achieve their dreams and provide for our family. I’m honored to have the confidence and support of 1199SEIU, and look forward to fighting for quality healthcare and the promise that with hard work, everyone can achieve the quality of life they deserve.”

Read the article at New York State of Politics



Naming rights: Who decides what a neighborhood is called and where it starts and ends?

A Harlem businessman in 2010 trademarked the term SoHa with plans to print T-shirts and promote southern Harlem as a residential and retail destination. Now the community board is trying to compel Paul Phillips to enforce that trademark in order to ban developers and real estate brokerages from using SoHa, a moniker it says deliberately diminishes the area's past.

"Harlem has a rich political and cultural history, but there is also another history of rundown streets and crime," said board chair Brian Benjamin, who is leading the fight against SoHa. "These people are trying to separate the two legacies for those who spent a lot of money on condos and brownstones and think of Harlem as a bad word."

Read More at Crain's


Brian Benjamin on Nomination to Democratic Party Line in 30th State Senate District

NEW YORK, N.Y. - I'm honored and humbled to be the Manhattan Democratic Party's nominee in the election for the 30th State Senate District.  I thank the committee members for entrusting me to lead our party to victory in the May special election.

I also want to commend my fellow candidates for their hard-fought campaigns. We are all united in our passion for improving the community and our strong desire to work on behalf of the people of the 30th District. I look forward to partnering with each of you to achieve our common goal of creating a brighter, stronger future for our families. 

This race is about ensuring the people of Harlem, East Harlem and the Upper West Side have strong Democratic representation in the State Senate, to fight for their needs. This is and always been at the heart of my candidacy. As a proud Democrat and longtime resident of Harlem, I am committed to giving a voice to working families targeted by the dangerous and detrimental policies of a Trump presidency. At a time when our schools, access to housing, and even our basic rights are under threat, I intend to work as our next State Senator to defend our rights, secure the resources our families need, and the protect the quality of life we deserve.


Harlem Community Board Chairman Eyes Vacant State Senate Seat

HARLEM — A real estate developer and chairman of Central Harlem's Community Board 10 has thrown his hat in to fill the state Senate seat recently vacated by Bill Perkins.

Brian Benjamin, who has been at the helm of the board for the past year and a member for six years, said he has had political motivations for some time, but that community members recently encouraged him to run for office after Perkins won a special election for the City Council last month.

"I hear a range of issues all the time that have political impact, and for me I felt I had the knowledge, skills and experience to be a great state Senator," explained the 40-year-old Harlem native.

Read More at DNA Info


40 Under 40: Class of 2016

When Brian Benjamin was 5, his family moved from Harlem to Starrett City, Brooklyn. So when Benjamin decided to move back to the fast-changing neighborhood as a young adult, his mother was a little puzzled. "She told me that we didn't leave there so I could go back," he recalled.

Benjamin has secured his place as a leading uptown organizer, using the connections he built while attending Brown University and working in finance to help raise money for Barack Obama's 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns. In 2010, he joined Genesis Cos., a real estate development firm started by a classmate at Harvard Business School.

The company now owns 1,000 affordable apartments in the area and last year bought 358 units from Abyssinian Development Corp. for $26 million, pledging the housing will remain affordable for decades to come.

Read More at Crain's


Community Board 10 Sides with Tenants in Lenox Terrace Rezoning Fight

HARLEM — Residents of Lenox Terrace, home to political leaders Congressman Charles Rangel and former Governor David Paterson, once again rejected their landlord’s redevelopment plan, saying they should do a better job of maintaining their existing units before building six new towers.

This time, they got the support of the local community board.

Read More at DNA Info


Years After Fleeing Violence, Man Returns to Harlem to Make a Difference

HARLEM — Brian Benjamin was only 4 years old when his mom chose to move out of their apartment on 147th Street and Amsterdam Avenue to escape ongoing neighborhood violence.

His journey has since taken him to Brooklyn, Queens Village, Brown University and Harvard, but Harlem always stuck with him.

Read More at DNA Info


Uptown's Only LGBT Community Center Set to Open in Harlem in February

HARLEM — Uptown’s first and only dedicated LGBT Center is expected to open next month in Harlem — where it can begin to provide services while awaiting its permanent home.

The center will open in an interim location at 115 East 115th St. in February, allowing groups to be able to use it to host regular meetings, small events, and plan larger gatherings while awaiting its permanent space.

Its future home will be on the ground floor of a 300-unit development set to replace a string of vacant row houses on 124th street between Eighth and Ninth avenues. Construction on that project is expected to finish in two years, according to Edward Poteat, the president of Carthage Advisors.

"This project is huge,” said Brian Benjamin, chair of Community Board 10's land use committee. “I think we should all feel like we are part of history here. This is the kind of development we want to see in Harlem.”

Read more at DNA Info

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