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Senate President Steve Sweeney. (Photo: by Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe)

Sweeney ousts Stack, Gill from Judiciary Committee

Reshuffling gives Gopal committee chairmanship

By David Wildstein, December 27 2018 2:13 pm

Senate President Steve Sweeney is reshuffling some Senate committee assignments, removing Brian Stack (D-Union City) and Nia Gill (D-Montclair) from the Judiciary Committee and replacing them with Joseph Lagana (D-Paramus) and Troy Singleton (D-Palmyra).

Stack is also losing his seat on the Budget and Appropriations Committee.

Singleton will become the chairman of the Community and Urban Affairs Committee.  He will replace Jeff Van Drew (D-Dennis), who is resigning from the Senate next week to take his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“New Jersey’s communities – whether urban, rural or suburban – continue to face unique challenges which require innovative solutions,” said Singleton. “I am honored to serve in my new role as Chair of the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee to ensure that future policies are not only well intentioned, but also have a positive impact.”

Vin Gopal (D-Long Branch) will replace Singleton as chairman of the Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

Gopal, who defeated three-term State Sen. Jennifer Beck last year, has seen a meteoric rise in the Senate.  He was named Majority Caucus chairman after Bob Gordon resigned to join the Board of Public Utilities and is now poised to take on a committee chairmanship.|

“I am honored to take on this new, important role as Chair of the Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee,” said Gopal. “I look forward to continuing my support of the service members in New Jersey who have fought for our state and our country. These men and women deserve the utmost care from our communities and I plan on facilitating that as best I can.”

State Sen. Nellie Pou (D-North Haledon) will succeed Gill as vice chair of the Judiciary panel.

The move against Stack comes after the Hudson County Democrat, once a staunch Sweeney ally, sided with Gov. Phil Murphy during the state budget battle and on legislative redistricting.

“It’s never been about the titles or the committees.  It’s always about the people,” Stack told the New Jersey Globe.  “I am honored to be the senator from the 33rd.”

The changes means that Sweeney will now have selected the most diverse team of committee chairs in Senate history, with 40% of the Senate chairmanships will be held by Black, Hispanic and South Asian senators.

“Heading into the new year with the most diverse set of committee chairs in New Jersey history, I am inspired and hopeful for what’s to come,” said Sweeney. “We are an extremely diverse state and it is critical those in power and sitting at the decision making table reflect that fact. Having committee chairs with different backgrounds and life experiences will allow us to pass legislation which takes into account the concerns of all New Jerseyans.”

Sweeney has also increased the size of the Education Committee from five to seven senators.  State Sen. Sandra Cunningham (D-Jersey City) will join the committee, and Sweeney has added an additional Republican seat  that Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean, Jr. will fill.

Joseph Vitale (D-Woodbridge) will join the Environment Committee, replacing Linda Greenstein (D-Plainsboro).    Greenstein will replace Vitale on the Senate Labor Committee, where Lagana will now serve as vice chair.

Teresa Ruiz (D-Newark) will replace Paul Sarlo on the Higher Education Committee.

Shirley Turner (D-Lawrence) will serve on the Economic Growth Committee, taking Gopal’s seat.  She will also join the Military and Veterans Affairs Committee.

Stack has been given Turner’s seat on the State Government Committee.  Nilsa Cruz-Perez (D-Barrington) will serve as the committee vice chair.

Gill will get a seat on the Senate Legislative Oversight Committee — which is not connected to the special joint committee investigating Al Alvarez’s hiring.  She will replace Singleton on that panel.

Sweeney has reserved spots on the Budget and Appropriations Committee and the Military and Veterans Affairs Committee for the new 1st district Senator who will be appointed in January to fill Van Drew’ Senate seat.

This story was updated at 2:19 PM with comment from Sweeney, Singleton and Gopal, and at 3:05 PM with comment from Stack.

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