Click play for audio version of this story
A sixth powerful Democratic State Senator today said that Kevin O’Toole should remain as chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and said she would like to see Gov. Phil Murphy nominate the first Latino New Jersey Commissioner to the massive bi-state transportation commission.
“Many of my colleagues have expressed their support for Chairman Kevin O’Toole and I would be remiss if I did not take the opportunity to lend my voice to a friend,” said Senate President Pro-Tempore Teresa Ruiz (D-Newark). “Kevin is a professional who has a deep love for New Jersey. His leadership on the Port Authority is rooted in those principles. We need a strong advocate who understands politics and government to protect the Garden State’s interests.”
The support of key state senators is critical for Murphy if he wants to fill three open seats on the Board of Commissioners. It has become increasingly clear that the Senate will not confirm any Port Authority nominees without a commitment by Murphy to retain O’Toole, a former Republican senator, as chairman.
Murphy nominated Amy Rosen, a former New Jersey Transit board member from Montclair, to the Port Authority fourteen months ago. The Senate has not moved to confirm her.
Ruiz, who has senatorial courtesy over all gubernatorial appointments from Essex County, praised Rosen as a “consummate professional,” but said her top priority is to see a Latino commissioner from one of the urban areas impacted by the Port Authority.
“If the Port Authority is not truly reflective of the state of New Jersey, I think it is my responsibility to see that it happens,” Ruiz told the New Jersey Globe. “The administration is always talking about more equality and more diversity, so here’s an opportunity.”