Democrat Sadaf Jaffer will become the first Asian American woman and the first Muslim to serve in the New Jersey Legislature when she takes office this afternoon.
While seniority has little importance in Trenton, Jaffer will take office just before two new assemblywomen from the 37th district. By tradition, freshmen lawmakers are sworn in in order of their districts – and in alphabetical order if an Assembly district has more than one new lawmaker.
Jaffer will take office just before Shaima Haider (D-Tenafly), who is a South Asian Muslim of Pakistani descent, and Ellen Park (D-Englewood Cliffs), who is Korean American.
Brandon Umba (R-Medford), who will take office as an assemblyman from the 8th district, will become the first Pacific Islander to serve in the legislature. Umba and Michael Torrissi, Jr., a Hammonton councilman, will replace Jean Stanfield (R-Westampton) and Ryan Peters (R-Hainesport). Stanfield will be sworn into the Senate today and Peters did not seek re-election. Torrissi will take his oath immediately before Umba.
Also joining the State Assembly today: Don Guardian (R-Atlantic City); Claire Swift (R-Margate); Bethanne McCarthy Patrick (R-Mannington); Beth Sawyer (R-Woolwich); Kimberly Eulner (R-Shrewsbury); Marilyn Piperno (R-Colts Neck); Vicky Flynn (R-Holmdel); Rev. Reginald Atkins (D-Roselle); Michele Matsikoudis (R-New Providence); Christian Barranco (R-Jefferson); and William B. Sampson IV (D-Bayonne).
Jaffer, a former mayor of Montgomery, won the open seat in the 16th legislative district vacated by Andrew Zwicker (D-South Brunswick). Zwicker, a three-term assemblyman, will be sworn into the State Senate today to replace Christopher Bateman (R-Branchburg). Bateman didn’t seek re-election after fourteen years in the Senate and fourteen in the Assembly.
In addition to Stanfield and Zwicker, three new members of the New Jersey State Senate will take office today: Edward R. Durr (R-Swedesboro), who defeated Senate President Steve Sweeney; Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield), who won the open seat of Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean, Jr. (R-Westfield); and Gordon Johnson (D-Englewood), who will succeed retiring Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg.
The legislature will get new leadership for the first time since 2012.
Nicholas Scutari (D-Linden) will become Senate President, a post Sweeney held since 2010. Teresa Ruiz (D-Newark) will become the first Latina Senate Majority Leader in New Jersey history; Weinberg held the post for ten years.
Steve Oroho (R-Franklin) is the new Senate Minority Leader, replacing Kean, who held the post since 2008. Bramnick gave up the Assembly Minority Leader job to run for Senate; his replacement after 10 years is John DiMaio (R-Hackettstown).