Ben Kallos takes a leave

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The East Side Council member is about to become a father — and will take a paid month-and-a-half off from his day job


  • City Council Member Ben Kallos is taking a paid, six-week leave from the Council as he and his wife expect their first child as early as this week. Kallos is pictured last summer at the Manhattan Schoolhouse, a preschool in his East Side district. Photo: Ben Kallos campaign

Upper East Side City Council Member Ben Kallos will begin a fully paid six-week paternity leave at the end of his work day on Thursday, February 1, he disclosed to fellow Council members late Wednesday afternoon.

The 36-year-old Democratic incumbent and his wife are expecting their first child as early as this week, and because of attendant child-rearing duties, he will put aside his Council tasks in the month of February and stagger an additional two weeks off after that.

“My wife and I are more than a little nervous,” Kallos told assembled members during a public meeting in the Council chamber on the east side of City Hall – after he first discussed a handful of his legislative initiatives.

“Helping to settle our nerves is knowing that we will be there for each other,” he added. “I mean this literally, as we are both lucky to have the option of paid parental leave – an option that is extended to far too few Americans.”

His remarks were greeted with warm and sustained applause from fellow officeholders.

The third-generation East Sider, who was first elected in 2013, romped to a 74.9 percent victory in the Democratic primary for City Council District 5 on September 12 – then expanded that lopsided margin by scoring a reelection margin of 80 percent in the general election of November 7.

Kallos did not say that he would be taking a leave and had not mentioned his wife’s pregnancy during his reelection campaign. It was not immediately clear at what point he actually made the decision to take the six weeks off.

He had briefed staffers about the pregnancy around the time of the election last year. Constituents learned of both the pregnancy and the leave at the same time, when he made the announcement at the Council meeting.

In Kallos’ absence, Jesse Towsen, his chief of staff since 2014, will be running his office, but he won’t be able to vote at stated Council meetings.

“I hope that our society begins to expect from its fathers that they will take full paid paternity leave,” Kallos told his colleagues.

“I can only lead by example joining my colleague [Brooklyn Council Member] Antonio Reynoso, currently on leave, in taking paternity leave myself – starting in a matter of hours,” he said.

Kallos also noted that he “proudly” supported Governor Andrew Cuomo’s paid family leave, which started on January 1 and provides private-sector employees with up to eight weeks off at 50 percent pay.

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