Acting Secretary of State Tahesha Way was approved unanimously by the Senate Judiciary Committee today, clearing her for another Senate-confirmed term in the job she’s held throughout Gov. Phil Murphy’s entire tenure as governor.
Way, a former Passaic County Freeholder, was renominated by Murphy in January to serve a second term as Secretary of State; along with Attorney General, Secretary of State is one of two state cabinet roles that needs to be reconfirmed every four years even if the nominee is the same.
But State Sen. Kristin Corrado (R-Totowa), who represents Way’s hometown of Wayne, held up Way’s nomination for months via senatorial courtesy. Corrado never publicly said why she held off on giving Way courtesy; after today’s meeting, Corrado said that she was waiting to meet with Way before signing off.
“I had wanted to meet with her and talk with her about some of the things that happened in past elections, and we had an opportunity to do that,” she said. “Once we did that, I signed off.”
During her remarks, Way outlined the work she’s done in her first four and a half years on the job, and noted how her own identity as a Black woman intersected with her role.
“Barely a century ago, I wouldn’t have been allowed to cast a ballot, but today, I have the distinct honor of serving as New Jersey’s chief election official,” she said. “Since I took office, automatic voter registration and online voter registration have been implemented; barriers to registration for those serving parole or probation have been eliminated; we have worked with local, county, and federal election officials to strengthen election security; we upgraded the state voter registration system; and we funded programs to modernize voting machine technology.”
Also clearing the committee today were seven Superior Court nominees, once again reducing the state’s daunting number of judicial vacancies. The seven nominees – Jorge Coombs, Jennifer Critchley, Amy DePaul, Karina Fuentes, Angela Gunter Foster, Jodi Rosenberg, and Cynthia Santomauro – all passed unanimously.
Critchley and DePaul, both Verona residents, had a long wait to get to a committee vote. First nominated in January, they had to get signoff from State Sen. Joe Pennacchio (R-Montville), whose Morris County-based district includes Verona.
The nominees approved today are likely the last to make it through the Senate before the legislature breaks for the summer on June 30; all will presumably come before the full Senate later this week. A number of vacancies – including two, soon to be three, on the state Supreme Court – remain outstanding, a problem that Judiciary Committee Chair Brian Stack (D-Union City) has said he will schedule summer committee meetings to address.
This story was updated at 4:40 p.m. with comment from State Sen. Corrado.