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Former Summit Councilman Richard Sun. (Photo: Richard Sun).

Murphy transportation aide switching to Schumer

Richard Sun, a former Summit councilman, is moving to Washington to work for U.S. Senate Majority Leader

By David Wildstein, September 15 2023 11:54 am

A top transportation policy advisor to Gov. Phil Murphy is leaving to take on a similar role on the staff of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer.

Richard Sun is heading to Washington later this month to become Schumer’s counsel on transportation issues, a move that shifts the Union County Democratic rising star from a state largely opposed to congestion pricing to one that backs the policy.

Sun, 32, had worked as a White House intern during Barack Obama’s presidency and for McKinsey & Company and Google Sidewalk Labs after graduating from Columbia University.

In 2015, at age 24, Sun sought an at-large seat on the Summit Common Council in.  He won with 63% of the vote against Republican Andy Smith, running five points ahead of his party’s mayoral candidate, Nora Radest.  The Republican incumbent, Gregory Drummond, did not seek re-election.

He entered Harvard Law School in the fall of 2017, commuting between Cambridge and Summit to finish his term as a councilman.  He didn’t run again in 2017, and another Democrat, Beth Little, held the seat.

Sun spent nearly a year as a senior advisor to the New Jersey Transit president before moving to the governor’s office in March 2021.

Working for Schumer, the most powerful Democrat on Capitol Hill, puts Sun in a position to influence transportation policy in the metropolitan region.

Sun’s intellectual heft has kept him atop shortlists for high office down the road; some Democrats viewed him as a potential Democratic legislative candidate in the future.  Working for Schumer, who has a history of helping former staffers move high atop the political ladder, could enhance his own network, particularly in the fundraising arena.

But in the meantime, Sun will need to navigate transportation agendas between the two states that are sometimes in sync and sometimes not.  Murphy has filed a lawsuit against New York in an attempt to prevent the implementation of congestion pricing.

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