Home>Campaigns>Burgess is top candidate to replace Rice in 28th district Senate seat

Irvington Council President Renee Burgess. (Photo: Renee Burgess).

Burgess is top candidate to replace Rice in 28th district Senate seat

Irvington Council President gains support from enough municipal chairs to give her a clear path to win special election convention

By David Wildstein, September 02 2022 10:47 am

Irvington Council President Renee C. Burgess has emerged as the top candidate to replace Ronald Rice in the New Jersey State Senate, the New Jersey Globe has confirmed.

Democrats in the 28th district will hold a special election next Friday to replace Rice, who resigned from the Senate after nearly 36 years for health reasons.

Burgess appears to have the votes to win the special election convention as Rice’s interim replacement and to become the Democratic nominee to run in a November special election to fill the remainder of the term.

Starting with the support of Irvington Mayor Tony Vauss and Democratic municipal chair Baseemah Beasley, Burgess quickly added backing from party leaders in Bloomfield, Glen Ridge and Nutley, along with the North and Central wards of Newark.

The South and West wards of Newark preferred Assemblywoman Cleopatra Tucker (D-Newark), the New Jersey Globe has learned.  Rice, who is still the West Ward Democratic chair, had wanted Tucker to succeed him.

It’s not clear if Tucker will challenge Burgess next week.  She had told the New Jersey Globe that she was waiting to be asked to run by party leaders.

The 51-year-old Burgess began her political career 22 years ago when she won a Democratic county committee seat.  She served on the Irvington Board of Education from 2003 to 2014 and spent two years as board president before her election to an at-large seat on the township council in 2014.  She was re-elected in 2018 and 2022 and has been council president since 2019.

Burgess worked at in the private sector at Merck, CIT Capital and Newark Liberty International Airport before becoming a payroll and purchasing specialist for the Irvington Housing Authority.  She founded the Thurgood Marshall Area Block Association and a member of the Union Gospel Tabernacle in Newark.

This could mean both of the Newark-based legislative districts could be represented entirely by women after the 2023 election, with Burgess running with Assemblywoman Mila Jasey (D-South Orange) and Tucker.  The 29th district is represented by Senate Majority Leader Teresa Ruiz (D-Newark) and Assemblywomen Eliana Pintor-Marin (D-Newark) and Shanique Speight (D-Newark).

It will also be the first time the 28th district Senate seat went to a Democrat from outside Newark since Martin L. Greenberg (D-South Orange) resigned in 1979 and was replaced by Newark Fire Director John Caufield.

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