Home>Highlight>Drennan to leave Senate, Scutari names Accettola as new executive director

Kevin Drennan. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

Drennan to leave Senate, Scutari names Accettola as new executive director

Top Sweeney aide had remained to help new Senate President’s transition

By David Wildstein, April 06 2022 2:16 pm

Kevin Drennan will end his tenure as executive director of the New Jersey Senate Majority Office on April 18 and will be replaced by Alison Accettola.

His departure was expected after Senate President Steve Sweeney lost his own seat in November 2021, since Senate President’s typically pick their own executive director.

Drennan had been looking to move on from the legislative staff anyway but agreed to remain in the post to allow the new Senate President, Nicholas Scutari, to transition into the role.

“Kevin Drennan has served as Executive Director with integrity and steadfast commitment to the Legislature, gaining the trust of the Senators, the respect of those who interacted with the Senate and the allegiance of the staff,” Scutari said. “Kevin was prepared to leave at the beginning of the year and I appreciate that he assisted me as I transitioned into the role as Senate President. I thank him for his decade of service at the highest level of the Senate Majority Office. His presence will be missed.”

Accettola, the general counsel to the Senate Democrats since 2015, had also been the top staffer to the Senate Judiciary Committee, where Scutari was the longtime chairman.  She had spent eight years as a state public defender before Drennan hired her to work in the Senate in 2015.

“Alison Accettola is a talented attorney who possesses a strong understanding of the Legislature,” said Scutari. “Alison has the skills and abilities needed to advance the policies of the Senate Democrats as we work to address the priorities of the people of New Jersey. My Senate colleagues share my confidence in her judgement and professionalism.”

Scutari also announced that Elizabeth Mahn will serve as Budget and Policy Director and Rose Farias as senior policy advisor to the Senate Democrats.

“There are very few in this space that have a keen eye, sensibility and knowledge of policy the way Kevin does. His understanding of the process and the implications it holds is hard to find,” said Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Ruiz (D-Newark). “We are lucky to have Alison stepping into this role, as someone who is a longstanding staff member and has earned the respect of both her colleagues in the Senate Majority Office and the Senators. I look forward to seeing her excel in this space and am appreciative Kevin is staying on to assist in her transition and see us through the budget process.”

Drennan had worked in the Senate for most of the last decade and served as Sweeney’s top staffer from 2014 to 2017 and again since 2018.

He worked for the New Jersey Democratic State Committee, as a field representative for Gov. James E. McGreevey, as a projects director for U.S. Senate Jon Corzine, and as the deputy political director for Corzine’s 2005 gubernatorial campaign.  Later, he served as GOTV Director for the state party and  U.S. Senator Bob Menendez’s 2006 campaign.

Drennan worked in the governor’s office for Corzine and as executive director of the New Jersey Commerce Commission before joining Sweeney’s staff in 2012.

This story was updated at 3:21 PM.

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