Charles McKenna is out as the chief executive officer of the New Jersey Schools Development Authority and will be replaced by Lizette Delgado-Polanco, the vice chair of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee.
The hiring of Delgado-Polanco, who is popular in state Democratic circles, follows a shakeup at the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters, where she served as political director. She remained at the union, although sources confirmed that he power struggle between Frank Spencer at the ousted Secretary-Treasurer, John Ballantyne, had left Delgado-Polanco looking for a new position.
Gov. Phil Murphy had kept McKenna, a former chief counsel to former Gov. Chris Christie, in the $225,000-a-year post, reportedly at the request of his transition director, Jose Lozano. McKenna will depart the post he’s held since 2014 in about ten days.
Delgado-Polanco will earn $225,000-a-year.
McKenna is the second member of Christie’s senior staff to be ousted by Murphy. Michelle Brown, a former appointments counsel, lost her $450,000-a-year job as executive director of Choose New Jersey.
At the New Jersey Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, Murphy initially named Belmar Mayor Matt Doherty as deputy executive director, and then elevated him to the top post to replace Christopher Howard, a Christie appointee.
But at the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, Murphy kept Christie’s CEO, Wayne Hasenbalg, on the payroll after giving his job to former Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto.
At the North Jersey District Water Commission, Murphy created a $175,000-a-year deputy executive director post for Assemblyman Tim Eustace, but kept Christie’s guy, former Bergen County Freeholder Todd Caliguire, as executive director.
Howard served as an assistant counsel to Christie, while Hasenbalg had been deputy chief of staff. Caliguire, who sought the Republican nomination for governor in 2005, is a longtime ally of Republican National Committeeman Bill Palatucci.
In 2013, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Barbara Buono placed Delgado-Polanco on her final short list of Lt. Governor candidates, along with Montclair Councilman and NJEA vice president Sean Spiller and the eventual candidate, SEIU leader Milly Silva. Delgado-Polanco became Buono’s pick for state party vice chair.
Before joining the carpenters, she was executive director of the SEIU New Jersey Council.