Today’s return of the State Senate from its summer recess came with the swearing in of the body’s newest member: State Sen. Renee Burgess (D-Irvington), representing the 28th legislative district.
“I have just been elevated to a level in my life where I have been granted the opportunity to do something I love and desire so passionately: helping others,” Burgess said in her inaugural remarks on the Senate floor. “I look forward to working with everyone inside and outside this building to make New Jersey and the 28th district, a better place to live, work, worship, and just be happy.”
Burgess, the former president of the Irvington City Council, won a special election convention three weeks ago to succeed State Sen. Ron Rice (D-Newark), a legendary legislator who stepped down in August due to health issues. Her election victory was unopposed; murmurings that a Newark-based candidate such as Assemblywoman Cleopatra Tucker (D-Newark) might jump in to challenge her did not come to fruition.
Burgess will take Rice’s committee assignments on the Community and Urban Affairs Committee and the Health, Human Services, and Senior Affairs Committee.
There will be a special election this November to complete the rest of Rice’s term, but while Burgess has drawn a Republican opponent in Newark South Ward Republican vice chair Joy Freeman, she stands no chance of losing in her deep-blue district.
For now, Burgess’ counterparts in the Assembly will be Tucker and Assemblyman Ralph Caputo (D-Nutley), but that won’t last long. Caputo’s hometown was moved into the 34th district on the state’s new legislative map, which will go into effect for the 2023 elections, and he’ll be replaced in the 28th district by Assemblywoman Mila Jasey (D-South Orange).
Assuming all of Burgess, Tucker, and Jasey run for and win re-election, they’ll be one of just two all-female legislative delegations in the state, alongside that of the neighboring 29th district.