More than a week after the fate of his Assembly seat was publicly announced, Assemblyman Pedro Mejia (D-Secaucus) at last said today that he won’t run for re-election this year.
“Serving the people of the 32nd district in the State Assembly has been a wonderful honor and I am so proud of the difference we have made in the lives of the people of New Jersey,” Mejia announced in a statement. “Due to the changes in the district lines, I will not be running for re-election this year.”
Mejia added that he intends on “fully supporting” the Hudson Democratic slate in the new 33rd district, which consists of State Sen. Brian Stack (D-Union City), West New York Mayor Gabe Rodriguez, and North Bergen Commissioner Julio Marenco; Marenco will take what is essentially Mejia’s current seat.
The first Dominican American to serve in the New Jersey Legislature, Mejia was first elected in a 2018 special election convention to replace former Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Secaucus).
Mejia, a businessman who had not been heavily involved in politics prior to 2018, wasn’t Hudson Democrats’ first choice for the seat. But their initial option, Antonio Suarez, fell through before the convention, and Mejia’s identity as a Latino from Secaucus – which has held a seat in the legislature since former Assemblyman Anthony Impreveduto (D-Secaucus) was elected in 1987 – made him an ideal fallback.
Once in the Assembly, Mejia turned out to be a strong campaigner and an asset in heavily Spanish-speaking parts of the county, most notably during State Sen. Nicholas Sacco’s contested 2019 re-election campaign as mayor of North Bergen.
But legislative redistricting proved to be Mejia’s undoing. With the three large, Hispanic-majority towns of North Bergen, Union City, and West New York all now concentrated in the 33rd district, Secaucus is set to finally lose its legislative representation for the first time in decades.
Hudson Democrats officially unveiled their 33rd district slate on January 7, but when approached last week, Mejia would not comment on whether he was running for re-election. His announcement today, though, is merely confirmation of the inevitable; few expected him, or any other deposed Hudson incumbent, to run off the line.
Mejia’s two running mates, Sacco and Assemblywoman Angelica Jimenez (D-West New York), are also headed for the exits. Sacco will depart the Senate and run for re-election as mayor of North Bergen after being drawn into the same seat as Stack, while Jimenez is running for West New York Town Commissioner and will be succeeded on the party line by Rodriguez.
The neighboring 32nd district will also send two new faces to the Assembly, with Assemblyman Raj Mukherji (D-Jersey City) running for the Senate and Assemblywoman Annette Chaparro (D-Hoboken) stepping down after losing party support. They’ll be replaced on the county line by Jessica Ramirez and John Allen.
The slate in the final Hudson County-based legislative district, the 31st, is still unsettled thanks to State Sen. Sandra Cunningham (D-Jersey City)’s health issues. Cunningham isn’t expected to run for re-election, but the question of her successor and the status of her two Assembly running mates, Assemblymembers Angela McKnight (D-Jersey City) and William Sampson (D-Bayonne), has yet to be resolved.