Assemblywoman DeAnne DeFuccio (R-Upper Saddle River) was sworn in today to fill the 39th district seat left vacant when Holly Schepisi (R-River Vale) resigned to become a state senator.
DeFuccio won a special election convention on March 31, defeating Saddle River Councilman John Azzariti by seven votes. She will serve the remaining nine months of Schepisi’s term.
Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin administered the oath in a small ceremony today.
“The new assemblywoman requested that the Speaker conduct her swearing in as soon as possible,” said Kevin McArdle, a spokesman for Coughlin. “The Secretary of State has already signed the Certificate of Selection provided by the Republican State Committee.”
McArdle said that Assembly Clerk Dana Burley will file DeFuccio’s paperwork the next time the lower house meets.
“The purpose of the swearing-in was so she may get to work now rather than wait for the next scheduled quorum on May 5,” McArdle said. “This decision is not reflective of any new policy or procedure. It’s historically been done on quorum dates largely out of convenience with all parties present.”
DeFuccio and Assemblyman Bob Auth (R-Old Tappan) are candidates for a full-term in the June GOP primary. They face challenges for Arizziti and former Saddle River Republican Municipal Chairman Jon Kurpis.
Today represents a return to the New Jersey Legislature for her family for the first time in 47 years.
Her grandfather, William F. Kelly, represented Hudson County in the State Senate for 16 years.
Kelly was elected to the State Senate in 1957 at a time when each county had just one senator. He sought the Democratic nomination for governor in 1969, finishing second in six-candidate field. Former Gov. Robert Meyner, seeking a comeback, defeated him by a 45%-23% margin.
A former Jersey City municipal court judge and Hudson County Sheriff, Kelly served in the Senate until his retirement in January 1974. He served in Meyner’s cabinet as president of the New Jersey Civil Service Commission in the 1960s and was the Hudson County Democratic Chairman from 1971 to 1973.
DeFuccio resigned her seat on the Upper Saddle River Borough Council to join the legislature.
Because the vacancy occurred after the filing deadline, there will be no primary election to fill her council seat. Instead, county committee from both parties will pick nominees to run in a November special election for her unexpired term.
In the meantime, Republicans will pick an interim council member to fill her seat.
An attorney, DeFuccio was appointed to the borough council in March 2020 after 90-year-old Councilman Roger Bernadine stepped down.
In 2020, DeFuccio won a full term on the council by 1,021 votes against Democrat Richard Medina.
Once a Republican stronghold, Joe Biden won Upper Saddle River by two votes over Donald Trump last year.
Schepisi was elected to the Senate earlier this month following the death of Gerald Cardinale, who had served in the Senate for nearly 40 years.