Home>Campaigns>Lonegan makes Murphy education nominee an issue in GOP Senate primary

Former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan. (Photo: Steve Lonegan).

Lonegan makes Murphy education nominee an issue in GOP Senate primary

Republican wants probe into Mary Bennett’s involvement with group seeking forced student busing

By David Wildstein, February 23 2023 11:23 am

State Senate candidate Steve Lonegan opposes the nomination of Mary Bennet to the state Board of Education and wants state senators to telegraph their concerns to Gov. Phil Murphy.

“Her involvement in an organization – as a member of its governing board – devoted to the use of brutal instruments like the forced busing of school children from school districts funded by the property taxes of their parents to districts paid for with state income tax dollars, is concerning and should be further examined,” Lonegan said.

Murphy nominated Bennett, a former Newark high school principal, and two others to the board last September to replace three incumbents who opposed the state’s new educational standards in June 2020.  That was the initial impetus for the ongoing controversy over sex education and LGBTQ topics in New Jersey schools.

The Senate Judiciary Committee was set to advance Bennett’s nomination last month after GOP lawmakers alleged that she  neglected to disclose her involvement with the New Jersey Coalition for Diverse and Inclusive Schools (NJCDIS) on her official questionnaire.   She was initially on the agenda for today’s meeting, but her name with pulled last night.

“Bennett needs a thorough vetting by the Legislature,” said Lonegan.  “The democratic ideals of transparency and open government demand it. Lonegan is seeking the Republican nomination for State Senate in the 24th district and faces Assemblyman Parker Space (R-Wantage) in the June primary.
“In my humble opinion, it is time for the leaders of the New Jersey Senate to signal to Governor Murphy that the withdrawal of this nominee would be in the state’s best interests,” he said.

State Sen. Kristin Corrado (R-Totowa) issued a statement on Thursday thanking Judiciary Committee Chairman Brian P. Stack for being “willing to listen to Republican concern about Mary Bennett.”

“Given recent controversies surrounding the State Board of Education in recent years, Republicans believe all nominees to the board must be required to appear before the Judiciary Committee as part of the confirmation process to provide testimony and answer direct questions from members,” Corrado said.

This story was updated at 1:52 PM with a comment from Corrado.

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