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The New Jersey State Assembly reorganizes for the 219th legislative session on January 14, 2020. Photo courtesy of Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin.

New legislators take office as Legislature reorganizes

Seven new assembly members take office

By David Wildstein, January 14 2020 1:55 pm

Seven new members of the New Jersey General Assembly took the oath of office today as the New Jersey Legislature reorganize for their 219th legislative session.

Craig Coughlin will again preside over the lower house after winning re-election to a second term as the Assembly Speaker.

“The people of New Jersey have the right to demand we put aside our egos and ambitions and do what is right for them,” said Coughlin.  “Let’s make the 219th Legislature one that is defined by our willingness to tackle real, hard challenges that make a difference in people’s lives. Let’s continue our efforts to make New Jersey more affordable.”

The GOP won 28 Assembly seats in the November 2019 mid-term election, but just 27 Republicans were sworn in today.

State Sen. Anthony M. Bucco (R-Boonton) declined to accept the Assembly seat he won last fall, leaving the 25th district seat vacant until February 1, when Republicans are expected to hold a special election convention to replace him.

Former Assemblywoman Aura K. Dunn (R-Mendham) replaced Bucco in the Assembly in December and served the remaining five weeks of his last term.  While she left the legislature yesterday, she is widely expected to return next month and run in a 2020 special election to complete Bucco’s term.

Two new Republicans took office in the 1st district: Erik Simonsen (R-Lower Township) and Antwan McClellan (R-Ocean City).  They defeated Bruce Land (D-Vineland) and Matthew Milam (D-Vineland), the only incumbents to lose re-election last year.

Simonsen was the mayor of Lower Township and McClellan served as an Ocean City councilman.

McClellan is the first African American Republican to serve in the legislature since Thomas Smith (R-Asbury Park) died in 2002.

Bill Moen (D-Camden) replaced Patricia Egan Jones (D-Barrington), who did not seek re-election to her fifth district seat after a little more than four years in Trenton.  Moen is a former Camden County freeholder and ex-South Jersey state director for U.S. Senator Cory Booker.

The new assemblywoman from the 8th district is Jean Stanfield (R-Westampton).  A former six-term Burlington County sheriff, she defeated incumbent Joe Howarth (R-Evesham) in the GOP primary.

The most senior member of the Assembly, David Wolfe (R-Brick), retired after 28 years in the legislature.  He was replaced by John Catalano (R-Brick), a former Brick councilman.

In the 13th district, Gerald Scharfenberger (R-Middletown) replaces Amy Handlin (R-Middletown), who did not seek re-election after fourteen years in the State Assembly.  Scharfenberger is a former Monmouth County freeholder and Middletown mayor.

Brian Bergen (R-Denville) was sworn in to replace Michael Patrick Carroll (R-Morris Township), who retired after 24 years in the Assembly.  Bergen is a former Denville councilman.

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