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Assemblywoman Annette Chaparro at Gov. Phil Murphy’s FY2024 Budget Address. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe).

Chaparro will close Assembly career with a committee chairmanship

Coughlin taps outgoing Hoboken assemblywoman to replace Caputo

By David Wildstein, May 25 2023 12:28 pm

A lame duck lawmaker from Hoboken will spend the rest of the legislatve session as chair of the Assembly Tourism, Gaming and the Arts Committee after Speaker Craig Coughlin gave her the post.

Assemblywoman Annette Chaparro (D-Hoboken) replaces Ralph Caputo (D-Nutley), who resigned in March to join the board of directors of Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey.

Coughlin will designate a new chair next year, assuming Democrats retain control of the legislature.

Chaparro, who served as vice chair of the panel, is set to leave the legislature in January.  The Hudson County Democratic Organization decided not to support her for re-election to a fifth term after Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla requested that one of his top political allies,  John Allen, get the Hoboken seat in a dramatically redrawn 32nd district.

In 2015, then-Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer and Hudson County Democrats decided to dump Carmelo Garcia (D-Hoboken) after just one term and replaced him with Chaparro, a clerk at city hall.  Bhalla did not replace Chaparro in 2019 or 2021.

It’s possible that Coughlin will assign Caputo’s interim replacement, Jackie Yustein (D-Glen Ridge), to fill his seat on the panel.  Yustein, the winner of a special election convention, is scheduled to be sworn in this afternoon.

It’s not clear who Coughlin will designate as the new vice chair, if anyone.  Another Democrat on the Tourism, Gaming and the Arts Committee, James Kennedy (D-Rahway), chairs the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee;  the panel’s other Democrat is William Sampson (D-Bayonne).

Yustein was elected as a caretaker and is not seeking a full term in the Assembly this fall.

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