Harlem developer Brian Benjamin wins state Senate seat

Democrat was a managing director of Genesis Companies

Brian Benjamin (Credit: Twitter)
Brian Benjamin (Credit: Twitter)

Developer and Democrat Brian Benjamin won a special election on Tuesday to represent Harlem in the New York State Senate.

Benjamin, 40, has promised to push for the closure of Rikers Island ahead of the schedule that Mayor Bill de Blasio proposed and help unite Democrats in the Senate, where the party is currently split between mainline Democrats and the Independent Democratic Conference, according to the Wall Street Journal. Benjamin will join the mainline Democrats.

Benjamin, who worked as a managing director at real estate firm Genesis, defeated Republican candidate Dawn Simmons, a businesswoman who campaigned on school choice and improving police-community relations, and is now set to occupy the seat that was left vacant when former Senator Bill Perkins joined the New York City Council.

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De Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo both backed Benjamin, who is also known for his 2014 appearance on a reality television show about his relationship with his former girlfriend that aired on Oprah Winfrey’s network.

A rep for Genesis told The Real Deal that Benjamin resigned from the company on Tuesday. The development firm has developed multiple residential projects in New York and New Jersey since its founding in 2004 and claims to have a total of over 1,100 residential units and 1.1 million square feet of space across the two states.

Last year, Genesis bought 358 units in Harlem from troubled Abyssinian Development Corp. for $26 million. [WSJ] – Eddie Small