Labor leader Raymond Pocino is retiring after 19 years as a commissioner of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, opening up another seat on the bi-state panel for Gov. Phil Murphy.
Pocino also resigned as a commissioner of the New Jersey Turnpike Authority. He’s in his fifth term and has served there over for over 25 years, including a stint as chairman.
He has submitted his letters of resignation, the New Jersey Globe has confirmed, notifying Murphy that he will be moving out of state before the end of this month,
“I would be willing to serve in a holdover capacity for a limited period of time .. should that be legally permissible,” Pocino said.
Otherwise, his resignation is effective immediately.
“It has been by honor to represent the working mena and women of the Port Authority, whose mission is so vital to the economic health of this state and our region,” Pocino said.
Pocino is one of the most influential union officials in the state as eastern regional manager and vice president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America.
“Ray has been a close friend and a trusted adviser since before I took office. While I am sad to see him leave the boards of the Port Authority and the Turnpike Authority, I know that both organizations are better off today because of his guidance and counsel over the past two decades,” Murphy said. “Ray has been a strong and true voice for working families in New Jersey for more years than I can count. I wish him the best in his future endeavors and I am grateful for the extensive public service that he provided to the people of New Jersey.”
Pocino was originally nominated by Gov. James E. McGreevey in 2002 and has served through five New Jersey governors.
There is speculation that Union County has been eyeing Pocino’s Port Authority seat, with Elizabeth Mayor Christian Bollwage considered as potential candidate. The Union County Democratic Chairman, Nicholas Scutari (D-Linden), is the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and anyone Murphy picks to fill the Pocino vacancy would have to go through him.
Murphy filled three open seats on the Port Authority earlier this year as part of a deal to keep Kevin O’Toole, a former Republican state senator, as chairman.
Two of the seats went to Hudson County: attorney Robert Menendez, Jr. and Michele Richardson. The third seat went to Cliffside Park Councilwoman Dana Martinotti.
That leaves Union County as the only county with a Port Authority facility that has no representation on the Board of Commissioners.
Murphy can’t formally nominate anyone to fill Pocino’s replacements until after the Senate reconvenes following the November general election.
This story was updated at 7:39 PM with comment from Murphy.