Lieutenant governor says effort underway for “more inclusive” Albany
Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin is getting a better look at upstate and central New York. The Harlem native spent time in Syracuse during the holiday week, getting his COVID-19 booster shot at the NYS Fairgrounds and participating in a turkey giveaway.
"Being upstate, it's just, it's different, but it's still the same,” said Benjamin. “Still this sense of gratitude, still the sense that I'm part of something bigger."
In addition to changes in his travel schedule, Benjamin said since he took over as lieutenant governor, he is also feeling a change in state government. He said Gov. Kathy Hochul is focusing on creating a more inclusive Albany.
"We're having conversations with the legislature,” said Benjamin. “We're talking about issues. It's not this executive legislator. It's 'we' trying to work together. The governor has really tried to empower local county executives, local legislators."
He also said there’s an effort to create a more ethical Albany, in the wake of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s resignation.
The New York State Assembly Judiciary Committee recently released the findings of its investigation into the former governor. The report alleges Cuomo engaged in multiple instances of sexual harassment, creating a hostile work environment. It also alleges Cuomo used state resources and property to work on his book about his handling of the COVID-19 crisis and was not fully transparent about the number of COVID-19 related deaths in nursing homes.
Benjamin calls the results of the report “unfortunate,” but he said Gov. Hochul was not involved, and many lawmakers are trying to look forward.
"People are trying to figure out how they're going to bring resources to their district, how they're going to deal with COVID, ERAP…economic development,” said Benjamin. “So, I'm feeling that energy more so than people worried about what happened with the governor. I think people kind of feel like the old governor's gone. We have a new governor, and we're moving forward."