30 Under 30: Political Up-and-Comers in New Jersey

Trenton Statehouse
(Photo: Library of Congress)
Justin Braz, 29, Chief of Staff to Assemblyman Gary Schaer. Braz got his start in politics working for the NJ Democratic Party in 2009. He also previously worked as an NJ political coordinator for 1199 SEIU. He currently serves as chapter director of NJ Chapter of the New Leaders Council and on the National Board of Directors for the New Leaders Council.
(Photo: Justin Braz)
Al Abdelaziz, 28, Former Candidate for Paterson Ward 6 Council. While the young Democrat may have lost the council race against Andre Sayegh in May, he is still highly active in the New Jersey Democratic Party. He is close with NJDSC Chairman John Currie and his August wedding drew the likes of potential 2017 gubernatorial candidate Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop. All signs point to a bright political future ahead for Abdelaziz.
(Photo: Observer File Photo)
Brendan Quinones, 27, Chairman of the New Jersey Young Republican Federation. Quinones is one of the most well-known young Republicans in New Jersey politics. Recently, he was also named as deputy vice chair of the Bergen County Republican Organization.
(Photo: Observer File Photo)
Andrea Katz, 29, Associate Attorney at Capehart Scatchard. This attorney is also the vice-chair of the Women’s Political Caucus of New Jersey Democratic Task Force and the treasurer of the New Jersey Young Democrats. She was Chief of Staff to Assemblywoman Valerie Vanieri Huttle from 2010 to 2015.
(Photo: Andrea Katz)
Bill Moen, 28, Camden County Freeholder. First elected in 2015, he became one of the youngest freeholders in the State of New Jersey. He serves as the Southern New Jersey Director for United States Sen. Cory Booker. Previously, Moen worked as a legislative aide in NJ’s fifth district.
(Photo: Camden County)
Harrison Neely, 29, Campaign Manager for Congressman Tom MacArthur’s reelection campaign. In addition to his work with MacArthur, Neely also is a former top aide to Tom Kean. He previously worked for Chris Russell Consulting and still works closely with the conservative consulting firm.
(Photo: Harrison Neely)
Victoria Napolitano, 28, Deputy Mayor of Moorestown. Napolitano began her term on the Moorestown council in January of 2013. In 2015 when she was 26, the Republican became the town’s youngest mayor ever elected. While she was mayor last year, she is deputy mayor this year.
(Photo: Victoria Napolitano)
Alex Law, 25, Former Challenger in NJ Congressional District 1. While Law was defeated in the CD1 primary by incumbent congressman Donald Norcross, the self-proclaimed Bernie Sanders Democrat tried to hold his own against the brother of influential New Jersey political boss George Norcross. He lost by about 40 points. Even so, Law shows no sign of leaving the political realm so soon. Recently, he has forged a connection to Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop and the two have made South Jersey appearances together.
(Photo: Law)
Cosmo Cirillo, 29, Commissioner for the Town of West New York. Despite his young age, Cirillo has been long involved in West New York. At 16 Cirillo began interning for the town. At 20, he was appointed to the West New York Board of Education. Additionally, Cirillo also served as Chief of Staff to Assemblywoman Angelica Jimenez and currently serves as Senior Advisor to NJ Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto.
(Photo: Cosmo Cirillo)
Marshall Spevak, 28, President of New Jersey Young Democrats. Spevak has served on the NJYD board since 2007 and is the former national campaign director for the Young Democrats of America. He also currently serves as the chief of staff for NJ Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo.
(Photo: Observer File Photo)
Brittany Wheeler, 23, Somerset County GOP Campaign Manager. Wheeler was recently hired at the Somerset GOP after managing a landslide win for Jim Gannon in the Morris County sheriff primary.
(Photo: Brittany Wheeler)
Christian Fuscarino, 25, Executive Director at Garden State Equality. Fuscarino is a long time LGBT community organizer who founded the nonprofit the Pride Network eight years ago.
(Photo: Christian Fuscarino)
Matt Bonasia, 29, Executive Director of Bergen County Democrats. While Bergen has often been considered a swing county that can go either Republican or Democrat, in recent elections the Democrats have come out on top. As executive director for Bergen’s Democrats since January 2015, Bonasia has been right in the thick of the victories the party has won.
(Photo: Observer File Photo)
Tim Hillman, 28, Advisor to U.S. Senator Bob Menendez. Hillman has been with the senator’s office for over six years and joined the team shortly after his 2010 graduation from Fordham University.
(Photo: Tim Hillman)
Andrew Musick, 29, Director of Taxation and Economic Development for the New Jersey Business and Industry Association. Musick is the NJBIA’s head lobbyist on all taxation, economic development and budgetary issues. He regularly represents the group before the New Jersey state legislature. Additionally, he serves as deputy executive director of New Jersey’s largest business ideological political action committee, NEW JOBS.
(Photo: NJBIA)
Louis DiPaolo, 23, Dumont Councilman. In September, DiPaolo will begin a new role as Legislative Director for New Jersey Working Families. Currently, he works for state Senator Bob Gordon and is the president of the Bergen County Young Democrats in addition to his role as councilman in Dumont.
(Photo: Louis DiPaolo)
Robert Field, 26, Aide to Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop. With Fulop considering a gubernatorial bid, Field is currently well-positioned as one of his aides. Before joining Fulop’s team Field worked with the campaign to elect Bonnie Watson Coleman for Congress. He also worked on Marie Corfield’s campaign for Assembly in 2013 and on U.S. Senator Bob Menendez’s reelection campaign in 2012.
(Photo: Robert Field)
David Spector, 28, Bellmawr Councilman. In addition to his duties as councilman, Spector is the Director of Government Affairs on behalf of Hinkle Law which specializes in providing lobbying and advocacy services to labor unions, nonprofits and economic development and redevelopment with different municipalities. He has worked closely with Donald Norcross, state Senator Jim Beach and also state Senator Fred Madden.
(Photo: David Spector)
Hannah Peterson, 25, Aide to Jersey City Mayor Fulop. Peterson has been working with Fulop’s team for almost two years, primarily on the communications team. Prior to this communications role, she worked on conducting policy research and creating the city's affordable housing policy. She is the secretary of the Hudson County Young Democrats.
(Photo: Hannah Peterson)
Alex Ball, 25, Campaign Manager Josh Gottheimer for Congress. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has identified the upcoming race in New Jersey’s fifth congressional district as a priority for the next election. With the national attention, Ball is working diligently on Gottheimer’s campaign as the Democrat attempts to beat a Republican in a right-leaning district.
(Photo: Alex Ball)
Michael Fedorochko, 22, Special Assistant for the New Jersey Senate. This recent Rutgers grad often travels with Senate President Sweeney. He is a co-founder of a technology startup called Community Informatics, which aims to make government data from federal, state, county, and local sources usable and actionable through a single cloud-based web application.
(Photo: Michael Fedorochko)
Ryan Jacobs, 28, former Fulop Communication Director. Jacob had a brief stint working with Fulop last year but took time off to co-author a book with James Carville-- “We're Still Right, They're Still Wrong: The Democrats' Case for 2016” comes out on August 23. Now, Jacobs is back to work on political communication with the campaign of Josh Gottheimer of CD5.
(photo: The Jersey Journal)
Tom Syzmanski, 26, Monmouth GOP Executive Director. Syzmanski started as an intern for former Congressman Jon Runyan's congressional campaign and steadily rising through the ranks in Monmouth.
(Photo: Tom Szymanski)
Amit Jani, 26, Consultant at Vision Media. This former staffer for Congressman Frank Pallone is heavily involved in the South Asian community and serves as Hudson County Director for the South Asian American Caucus within the Democratic State Committee, and State Representative for South Asians for Hillary. He is also the President and Co-founder of the New Jersey Leadership Program, a nonprofit that aims to inspire NJ’s South Asian youth to get involved in government and politics.
(Photo: Amit Jani)
Justin Shoham, 28, Chief of Staff for Assemblyman Raj Mukherji. Shoham works as a close adviser to Mukherji, one of the potential candidates for Jersey City mayor in 2017. He is the chief office liaison to the district’s Spanish speaking constituency. He began his career as a political staffer for Congressman Frank Pallone and chief of staff for Assemblyman Joe Cryan before moving to Jersey City.
(Photo: Justin Shoham)
Raphael Chavez-Fernandez, 26, Associate at Mercury. Chavez-Fernandez is deeply involved in much of the Democratic Party’s goings-on in the state. He first started in politics during Senator Bob Menendez’s 2012 re-election campaign. He also has worked in the 20th Legislative District and has been involved in successful state legislative races across NJ. Before joining Mercury, he worked at Menendez’s office for three years.
(Photo: Raphael Chavez Fernandez
Reginald Beldsoe, 26, Legislative Aide for the City of Newark. Bledsoe works closely with Newark Councilman Eddie Osborne and helps manage operations in New jersey’s largest city. Previously, he has worked as a legislative aide to former freeholder (now Assemblywoman) Blonnie Watson.
(Photo: Reginald Bledsoe)
Giancarlo Tello, 26, Immigration Activist. Tello has made it his mission to help undocumented immigrants like himself in NJ. Tello was born in Peru but now lives in Bellville. In 2015, he was the only student appointed to the College Affordability Commission. Tello was also an avid supporter of the Sanders campaign.
(Photo: Giancarlo Tello)
Bill Dunne, 27, Political Director at New Jersey GOP. In addition to his work with the New Jersey Republican Party, Dunne was also the state director for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s presidential run.
(Photo: Bill Dunne)
Andrew Christie, 22, son of Governor Chris Christie. This recent Princeton grad made a splash at the Republican National Convention when he served as a delegate and cast New Jersey’s votes. While he is currently focused on his career outside of politics, his work as a delegate hints that Christie may one day seek to follow in his father’s footsteps. At the very least, the young Christie looks well positioned to be an influential member of New Jersey’s GOP whether or not he decides to eventually run for office
(Photo: Observer File Photo)
Honorable Mention. Brandon Pugh, 23, Vice President of the Moorestown Board of Education. Pugh was first elected to the school board in his town when he was just 19 years old. He is also the president of the Burlington County School Boards Association and on the Board of Directors for the New Jersey School Boards Association (NJSBA). He is a current regional vice-chair for the state Young Republicans.
(Photo: Brandon Pugh)
Honorable Mention. Tyler Seville, 27, Director of Technology and Workforce Development at NJBIA. At NJBIA, Seville covers education, workforce, technology and innovation policy. He also is an active member of the State Employment and Training Commission’s Employability Skill Task Force and served on Governor Christie’s Standards Review Committee to help evaluate NJ education standards. Prior to working at the NJBIA, Seville worked for the New Jersey Legislature and the Eagleton Institute of Politics.
(Photo: Tyler Seville)
Honorable Mention. Dinesh Suryawanshi, 28, Aide to U.S. Senator Cory Booker. Suryawanshi is well-liked within the state’s burgeoning South Asian community and worked closely with Mo Butler, Booker’s former chief of staff who departed earlier this year to work for Mercury.
(Photo: Dinesh Suryawanshi)

In the world of New Jersey politics, young people are often behind-the-scenes players for some of the most well known political figureheads in the state. Sometimes, those young people step out of the shadows and make their own bids for office. Other times, they become influential lobbyists dedicated to a cause. Regardless of how they are involved, those under 30 are a mainstay of the Garden State’s political world.

Every year, Observer New Jersey Politics (formerly PolitickerNJ) compiles a list to recognize young people who have risen to the top. View the slideshow for the full 2016 list.