Assemblyman Sterley Stanley (D-East Brunswick) was sworn in Wednesday, becoming the first legislator of South Asian descent from Middlesex County.
“I’m honored to have been entrusted to represent New Jersey’s 18th district,” he said in a brief speech from the Assembly floor. “I’m tremendously grateful for the opportunity and eager to begin the work of serving all the residents of this diverse district and help build a policy that will benefit our wonderful state.”
Stanley fills the seat left vacant by Nancy Pinkin when she left the Assembly to become Middlesex County Clerk earlier this month.
The Middlesex County Democratic Committee backed him for the seat in an 184-135 vote over Edison Councilman Joseph Coyle on Jan. 12.
The two-term East Brunswick councilman will represent the district with the highest percentage of Asian Americans of any legislative district in the state. He’ll serve the remainder of Pinkin’s unexpired term, which ends in January 2022.
Stanley struck a bipartisan note in his first speech as a legislator.
“From the onset, I’ve emphasized the importance of listening to and learning from one another. We’re living in a time of extreme and daunting challenges,” he said. “The best way to implement necessary complex solutions and to combat the divisions that often plague our society is to work tirelessly to understand one another’s viewpoints and engage in a substantial and nuanced discussion.”
Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin performed the swearing in.
Stanley will need to secure support of Middlesex County Democrats to win organizational support to run for a full term in November. The district is safely Democratic. Republicans haven’t won an Assembly race there since 1993, though the GOP held the district’s Senate seat until 2002.
“I’m ready to begin the work ahead, together, whether we have known each other for years or we’ve only recently met,” Stanley said. “We’re all on the same team. Disagreement is one of the most constructive parts of democracy, and I will always greatly value input from those who hold viewpoints different than my own.”