If Irvington Council President Renee Burgess wins Ronald Rice’s State Senate seat, she is likely to be seated in the New Jersey State Senate in time to vote on two upcoming nominations to the New Jersey Supreme Court.
Burgess has emerged as the odds-on favorite to win the 28th district seat held by for nearly 36 years by Rice, a Newark Democrat who stepped down this week for health reasons.
Assuming she wins a special election convention on Friday night, Burgess could take office the next time the Senate holds a quorum call. The next scheduled Senate session is September 29, but that is expected to be pushed up in order to accommodate the fast-tracking of Gov. Phil Murphy’s nomination of Douglas M. Fasciale to the New Jersey Supreme Court.
Burgess will need to resign her Irvington council seat to move up to the Senate, triggering a series of special elections: one to replace her as council president – and possibly another if one of the two council vice presidents, Dr. October Hudley or Charnette Frederic, moves up.
Because Irvington holds non-partisan municipal elections, it will be up to the remaining six governing body members to select an interim replacement for Burgess’ at-large council seat.
In May 2023, Irvington voters will go the polls for a special election to fill the remaining three years of Burgess’ current term – unless Irvington decides to avoid the added expense and move that contest to November.
If one of the school board members is named to the township council, it could result in an April 2023 special election to fill that unexpired term.
Regardless of the outcome of Friday’s election – it’s still not clear if Assemblywoman Cleopatra Tucker (D-Newark) or someone else will enter the race against Burgess – thirteen nominations already made by Murphy to positions requiring Senate confirmation that have not yet been approved by the Judiciary Committee will need signoff now that a new senator has courtesy. Any previous signoffs by Rice will no longer count.
Those nominations include Juliana Blackburn to the Superior Court, Theodore Stephens as Essex County Prosecutor, and Angelica Allen-McMillan as Commissioner of Education.