Shirley Turner (D-Lawrence) has been dumped as chair of the Senate Education Committee and replaced with Teresa Ruiz (D-Newark). Ruiz backed Stephen Sweeney (D-West Deptford) in his race for Senate President, while Turner supported the incumbent, Richard Codey (D-Roseland).
Sweeney also replaced two Codey supporters: Joseph Vitale (D-Woodbridge), as chairman of the Health and Senior Services Committee. The new chair is Loretta Weinberg (D-Teaneck), the 2009 Democratic nominee for Lt. Governor; and Ronald Rice (D-Newark) has been replaced as chairman of the Community and Urban Affairs Committee by Jefferson Van Drew (D-Middle Twp.).
Two other Codey backers, John Girgenti (D-Hawthorne) and Nicholas Sacco (D-North Bergen), keep their committee chairmanships. But Codey, a former governor and a legislator since 1973, will not chair a committee.
“With any transition of power comes a degree of changing of the guard, but I think that we get the best of both worlds with the new Senate Majority leadership,” said Sweeney. “We’ve created new opportunities for diverse voices to be heard while incorporating some of the experience and wisdom of established leaders in the State Senate. I look forward to working with this team to address the issues concerning New Jersey’s residents and help make the Garden State a more affordable place to raise a family.”
Sweeney added new committees would see their focus change. The Senate Environment Committee, which will also take up energy issues and be re-named the Senate Environment and Energy Committee, and the Senate State Government Committee, which will absorb the Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee and be re-named the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism and Historic Preservation Committee. He has also created the Senate Military and Veterans Affairs Committee.
James Beach (D-Voorhees) will chair the new veterans panel.