About Brian

Brian Benjamin was born in Harlem to an immigrant mother who had come to this country with hopes for a better future for her son. Brian has always believed in New York City as a place where anybody can achieve their dreams, and after earning a degree in Public Policy from Brown and a Master’s in Business from Harvard, Brian returned to Harlem to start his career.

Brian gained crucial insight into financial management by working as an investment advisor at Morgan Stanley before deciding to apply his skillset for the greater public good. Working at a minority-owned business to build affordable housing, Brian helped create over one thousand affordable and environmentally sustainable units, all while helping young people develop work skills and secure good construction jobs through community youth programs.

Brian served as Chair of his Community Board before being elected to represent Harlem and the Upper West Side in the State Senate in 2017. In the Senate, Brian serves as Chair of the Budget and Revenues Committee and has distinguished himself as a leader in criminal justice reform and tenant protections. Brian sponsored a bill to prevent landlords from drastically increasing rent on rent-stabilized apartments, and he successfully fought to divest New York's public pension funds from for-profit prisons.

With his own parents retired on a pension, Brian knows how critically important the role of Comptroller is. He is ready to apply his passion for making our city a just and affordable place to live and his financial expertise to benefit all New Yorkers.

Brian lives with his wife and daughter in Harlem.

Brian Speaking

Brian's Vision

Retiree Investments Must Be Protected

Brian is the only candidate in this race with relevant investment management experience, and he is concerned about the state of the pension fund. Last year the fund did not reach its required return of seven percent, meaning that - in the middle of a budget crisis - hundreds of millions of dollars must be transferred to the fund that could have gone to social services or another important priority. Managing a pension system valued at over $229 billion and working to maximize returns for pensioners is central to the job, and Brian is well-prepared to step up to this task on day one.


Two percent of the pension fund is supposed to be invested in economically targeted investments (ETI). As Comptroller, Brian will roll out a plan to invest in developing new income targeted affordable housing projects as well as permanent supportive housing to shift resources from temporary shelters for the homeless. Brian knows how to achieve this goal because he helped finance the construction and rehabilitation of over 1,000 units of environmentally sustainable affordable housing, which included housing for the homeless, before being elected Senator.


The Comptroller has the power to audit and investigate any spending of city resources. Brian will use this tool to effectively hold the Mayor and City Council accountable to taxpayers, starting with an audit of the NYPD budget as soon as he assumes office.

By maximizing oversight of agencies like the NYPD, NYCHA, the MTA, and the Department of Education, Brian will reveal budgetary investments that do not reflect our values and shine a light on waste and mismanagement that is harming New Yorkers. Brian knows that we need to spend money effectively and morally, in a way that measurably improves the lives of NYC residents


As State Senator, Brian successfully fought to divest New York’s public pension funds from private prisons. As Comptroller, Brian will direct New York City investments into the kinds of companies that are leading us into a better future–such as those focused on renewable energy sources and investing in companies that create real affordable housing; including for the ever increasing homeless population.

To facilitate this investing power, Brian is proposing that New York City create a Public Bank. In addition to fighting to lower the number of unbanked and underbanked New Yorkers and contracting with M/WBEs, this Bank could undertake lending programs that private banks are less interested in undertaking, such as a worker cooperatives, capital to build units of lower-income and senior affordable housing, and mortgages to new homeowners.


Wall Street can’t ignore the values of a $229 billion investor, but all too often New York has passively accepted the decisions of management in the companies we invest. Brian will push banks to disclose more about their lending practices and demand that companies New York invests in have gender and ethnic diversity in their board rooms, contract with minority and women-owned businesses, as well as have acceptable pay equity and non-discrimination policies for all employees.


The Comptroller manages over 700 staff and a $70 million budget. Brian's office will be organized around solving critical problems, and on day one he will hire Assistant Comptrollers for Education, Public Safety and Housing to oversee the way money is being spent in those areas. These empowered deputies will follow a specific model for achieving positive results in their issue areas: identify problems, audit/investigate, craft recommendations, form advocacy efforts and finally implementation.