Home>Highlight>New Jersey will have record number of women legislators on Monday, but only for 50 days

Assemblywoman Josephine Margetts (R-Harding) In 1968. Ace Alagna collection courtesy of the Monsignor William Noé Field Archives & Special Collections Center, Seton Hall University Libraries, South Orange.

New Jersey will have record number of women legislators on Monday, but only for 50 days

Aura Dunn will become 7th Morris County woman legislator

By David Wildstein, November 22 2019 10:51 am

With the election of Aura Dunn to the State Assembly, Morris County now has two women legislators for the first time since 1973, when Josephine Margetts (R-New Vernon) and Ann Klein (D-Morris Township) served in the legislature.

BettyLou DeCroce (R-Parsippany) has been the only women in the Morris County legislative delegation since she took office in 2012.  Three other women who live in other counties represents small parts of the county.

When Dunn takes office on Monday, she will be the seventh Morris County woman to serve in the New Jersey Legislature.

The first was Margetts, a Republican who was elected in 1967.  She was followed by Klein, who ousted two-term incumbent W. Allen Cobb (R-Denville) in 1971.

For eleven months in 1972, there were only three women in the State Assembly: Margetts, Klein, and Millicent Fenwick (R-Bernardsville), who resigned in December to become state Consumer Affairs Director.

Margetts and Klein both left the Assembly in 1973.

Margetts ran for the State Senate, but lost by a 53%-47% margin to Democrat Stephen Wiley in the Watergate landslide.

Klein ran for governor and finished second in the Democratic primary, losing to Brendan Byrne by a 45%-27% margin.

Rosemarie Totaro (D-Denville) won an Assembly seat in 1973 on a ticket with Wiley and Gordon MacInnes.  She lost it in 1975, won it back in 1977, and lost it again in 1979.

Leanna Brown (R-Chatham) was elected to the Assembly in a 1980 special election.  She moved up to the Senate in 1983 when she defeated incumbent James Vreeland (R-Montville) in the Republican primary.

After Brown’s resignation from the Senate in 1993 to become a member of the Casino Control Commission, she was succeeded by Robert Martin (R-Morris Plains).  Carol Murphy (R-Montville) won a special election convention to replace Martin in the Assembly.

Between Murphy’s 2001 resignation to join the state Board of Public Utilities and DeCroce’s election in 2012, Morris County had no women legislators.

Dunn will become the 38th woman in the New Jersey Legislature – the greatest number of women legislators in state history.

But that number will drop to 36 just 50 days later, when Dunn leaves office – perhaps just for a couple of weeks — after the expiration of her seven-week term.

Assemblywomen Amy Handlin (R-Middletown) and Patricia Egan Jones (D-Barrington) end their service in the Legislature on January 13.   Assemblywoman-elect Jean Stanfield (R-Westampton) will take office the following day.

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