Assemblyman Jerry Green, a popular and powerful player in New Jersey politics for four decades, passed away on Wednesday evening. He was 79.
Green has faced a series of health issues since last year. He resigned as Union County Democratic Chairman in January and has not been in Trenton since he was re-elected to a 14th term in the State Assembly last fall. He and Assemblyman David Wolfe (R-Brick) were the longest-serving member of the Assembly.
Green began his political career in 1982, winning a seat on the Union County Board of Freeholders when Democrats swept four seats that year. Green won the two-year unexpired term of Rose Marie Sinnott, who resigned to become Union County Surrogate. He defeated Hillside Township Committeeman John Kulish by 8,846 votes.
He lost re-election in 1984 but returned to the Freeholder Board in 1988.
In 1991, Green was elected to the New Jersey State Assembly, running in the old 17th district, which included New Brunswick and Plainfield. Running on a ticket with Bob Smith, they won easily despite a Republican landslide throughout much of the state. Smith has been re-elected thirteen times.
Green served as Deputy Speaker from 2002 to 2003, as Deputy Speaker Pro-Tempore from 2004 to 2007, and as Speaker Pro-Tempore since 2008. He is the chairman of the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee.
He became the Union County Democratic Chairman following the resignation of Charlotte DeFilippo in 2013.
As an Assemblyman, Green sponsored legislation to enhance school safety and to require sprinkler systems in college dormitories. In 2015, he was the sponsor of a bill signed into law by Gov. Chris Christie that established new criminal record expungement procedures that helped former prisoners find jobs.