Former Columbia Mayor takes new gig in White House

Washington, D.C. (AP)–President Joe Biden on Monday announced the appointment of former Columbia, South Carolina, Mayor Steve Benjamin as a top adviser, filling a key White House role from a state that has become crucial to the Democratic Party ahead of the 2024 election cycle.

Benjamin will become director of the White House Office of Engagement. He takes over from another former mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, who had assumed the role in June and is returning to Atlanta, officials said.

Benjamin will oversee White House efforts “to ensure community leaders, diverse perspectives, and new voices have the opportunity to inform the work of the President in an inclusive, transparent and responsible way,” according to the White House. In a release, Biden called Benjamin a “longtime public servant” whose “deep relationships across the country” would well serve the administration.

Benjamin, 53, has long been considered a rising star in Democratic politics, serving three terms as Columbia’s Mayor, and the first Black Mayor in the city’s history. Serving as president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors and African Americans Mayors Association, Benjamin spoke at the 2016 Democratic National Convention and was among the candidates considered for Hillary Clinton’s running mate that year. He opted not to run for a fourth term in 2021.

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