For Victoria Kuhn to win Senate confirmation as the state corrections commissioner, she must first receive signoff from State Sen. Edward R. Durr (R-Swedesboro), who now has senatorial courtesy over all gubernatorial nominations from Gloucester County.
Durr will interview Kuhn at his office on Friday. He’s invited State Sen. Jean Stanfield (R-Westampton), who led the legislature’s criticism of Commissioner Marcus Hicks and his management of the Edna Mahan Women’s Correction Facility, to join him.
“I take my obligations of advise and consent very seriously,” Durr said. “I’m looking forward to having that meeting.”
After a national search, Murphy picked Kuhn, the acting commissioner since Hicks was forced out last June after an independent report depicted him as clueless about leadership issues at the embattled women’s prison for almost three months before a January 2021 incident where inmates were assaulted. Several corrections officers have been charged with crimes.
Kuhn, a Mullica Hill resident, served as Hicks’ chief of staff.
If Durr isn’t reassured that Kuhn had no role in Hicks’ missteps, he has the option of not signing off on her nomination. That won’t change much – she is currently running the department – but it could keep the acting title in front of her name for the duration of her tenure.
Durr told the New Jersey Globe that he has not decided on Kuhn’s nomination.
“We spoke on the phone last week,” he said. “It was a pleasant conversation. I’m reading up on her.”
Stanfield is a former Burlington County sheriff and assistant prosecutor, and Durr said her participation in the interview will help him make his decision.
The other senator from Gloucester County, Fred Madden (D-Washington) was invited to join Durr and Stanfield, but he declined. Madden must also sign off on Kuhn’s nomination.