NY Sen. Brian Benjamin sworn in as lieutenant governor

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ALBANY, N.Y. (WHEC/AP)—New York Lieutenant Gov. Brian Benjamin Thursday was officially sworn into his role.

Benjamin, a state senator from New York City, was chosen by Gov. Kathy Hochul last month. She helped swear him in during a ceremony Thursday morning.

The 44-year-old Benjamin becomes the state’s second Black lieutenant governor. The Democrat, whose district includes most of central Harlem, has focused his legislative career on criminal justice reform and affordable housing.

The role of lieutenant governor in New York has long been largely ceremonial, with the officeholders traveling to ribbon-cutting ceremonies and town halls across the state. But two recent lieutenant governors have become governor following the resignations of their predecessors.

"For too long, people have not included, didn’t have a seat at the table, that their issues wouldn’t be brought to the forefront, and I’m proud to say that [Hochul] is creating an administration that will do so," Benjamin said.

Benjamin said his first role is to be helpful in "tackling" the coronavirus pandemic, including going out to educate people on the effectiveness of the vaccines. Additionally, he says he will work to represent renters and small landlords affected by the pandemic, among other tasks.

"Governor Hochul, I will not let you down, and New York State, I will not let you down either," Benjamin said.