The consensus is in, and Harlem’s political scene is hype over their own State Sen. Brian Benjamin being tapped to serve alongside Gov. Kathy Hochul as her lieutenant governor.
But, now onto the most obvious question, who can fill his role in Senate District 30?
The district covers Harlem, East Harlem (El Barrio), Upper West Side, Washington Heights, Hamilton Heights, and Morningside Heights in Manhattan.
Sen. Robert Jackson paused his marathon training in Virginia to congratulate Benjamin on his new position and speculate about what the role requires. “I’ve known Brian for many years. Even before he was elected to be the chairman of the Community Board, and then to get to know him as state senator, part of the leadership. In session, Benjamin’s the one that’s running the entire show from the podium,” said Jackson.
Jackson said there should be a robust roster of candidates to replace Benjamin. “Ideal candidates are individuals in public office right now and see that as a step in the right direction,” said Jackson.
He named Assemblymembers Al Taylor, Inez Dickens and Robert Rodriguez as qualified candidates already working in Albany.
“Then again, if you look at all the individuals that ran for City Council seat [in District 9] to replace Bill Perkins. Like Athena Moore, Cordell Cleare, William Allen and others who ran. All of these individuals are candidates who could throw their hat in the ring,” said Jackson. “The people will decide. Personally, I don’t have a favorite.”
Londel Davis Jr., president of the Martin Luther King Jr. Club, said that he’s not just happy, he’s ecstatic for Benjamin’s new role.
“The Harlem Senate seat is one of the most important seats, not just in Harlem, but New York State. We’re losing a lot of Black-elected seats in Manhattan. We’re down to five seats now,” said Davis about the impending special election. “It’s a very critical seat that our Black votes in Harlem we need to hold onto.”
Davis said candidates have been “calling nonstop” but theorized that the leader of his club, Assemblymember Inez Dickens, would make a great replacement for Benjamin. Dickens didn’t respond to requests to comment by post time.
Ariama Long is a Report for America corps member and writes about City Hall and local politics for the AmNews. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep her writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift today by visiting: https://tinyurl.com/fcszwj8w