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Rev. Reginald Atkins. (Photo: Reginald Atkins.)

Rev. Atkins gets nod for Holley Assembly seat

Former Roselle mayor, councilman will run with Cryan

By David Wildstein, March 03 2021 9:26 am

Union County Democrats have picked Rev. Reginald Atkins, the Roselle Democratic Municipal Chair and a former interim mayor, as their candidate for State Assembly in the 20th district.

He will replace Jamel Holley (D-Roselle), who is giving up his seat to mount an uphill fight for State Senate against incumbent Joseph Cryan (D-Roselle).

Atkins will run with Cryan and Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (D-Elizabeth) on the Union County organization line on a ticket headed by Gov. Phil Murphy.

“There is nothing more important than family and community and I believe it is imperative to work in the service of others,” Atkins said.  “Public service and volunteer work is not about accolades, it is about working towards the betterment of your community and making sure no one is ever left behind.”

The senior pastor and founder of the Zion Family Worship Center Church, Atkins has served on the Roselle Board of Education and on the Borough Council.

In 2016, Atkins was labeled “Reverend Hero” after he chased down and tackled a man he saw stealing property.

Atkins had been viewed as the front runner for the Assembly seat.

Democrats had a wide field of potential candidates, including Union County Commissioner Angela Garretson and a brother and sister from Hillside who both serve in local office: Hillside Councilman George L. Cook III and school board member Kimberly Cook.

If he wins, Atkins would be the only clergyman in the New Jersey Legislature.

From time to time, there have been some ministers in the Legislature.

Former Assembly Speaker S. Howard Woodson (D-Trenton) was the pastor of the storied Shiloh Baptist Church in Trenton for 53 years.

Lester Clee (R-Newark), the 1937 Republican nominee for Governor, served as Assembly Speaker and as the State Senator from Essex County.  He was the pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church in Newark for 25 years.  After retiring, Clee moved to Mendham Borough and served as mayor.

Charles Eaton (R-Watchung), a Baptist minister, represented Central Jersey in Congress from 1933 to 1954 and chaired the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

“I am proud to have the opportunity to work with Senator Cryan and Assemblywoman Quijano because they have been fighting hard every day for Roselle and the 20th district, and their sacrifice and dedication for our families no matter the challenge is consistent with what I consider to be my mandate,” said Atkins.

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