Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) this morning praised the selection of Nilsa Cruz-Perez to replace newly-elected U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross (D-1) in the state senate in New Jersey’s fifth legislative district, saying she brings a “unique perspective” to the post as one of the legislature’s first ever Latinas.
“Nilsa’s prior experience as a member of the Assembly will allow her to hit the ground running, and her background as a veteran and the first Latina to ever serve in the Legislature give her a unique perspective to understand how to get things done for the hard working families of this state,” Sweeney, a close ally of Norcross’ in South Jersey, said in a statement. “Nilsa has always been a tireless advocate for Camden and South Jersey and I am excited to have her back in the Legislature and look forward to working with her in the Senate.”
A former Assemblywoman who was the first Latina to serve as a member of the New Jersey Legislature, Army veteran Cruz-Perez in 1995 filled the vacancy created by Wayne Bryant’s move up to the state senate. She served in the assembly until 2010, when she stepped down in what many political observers saw as a politically-calculated move to make way for Norcross, the brother of South Jersey Democratic power broker George Norcross III.
Cruz-Perez served on the 2011 redistricting commission and currently directs the Camden County Office of Constituent Services, and she will join state senators M. Teresa Ruiz (D-29) and Nellie Pou (D-35) as one of three Latinas serving in the state senate.
PolitickerNJ first reported Cruz-Perez as the Democrats’ choice to succeed Norcross here.