Incoming Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin plans to make the reappointment of LeRoy Jones to a seat on the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority (NJSEA) a priority once he takes office tomorrow, according to sources.
Jones, the Essex County Democratic Chairman, holds the one seat appointed directly by the Speaker. Last week, Prieto replaced him with a Hudson County ally, North Bergen Police Chief Robert Dowd — reportedly in retaliation to Jones’ decision to support Coughlin in a successful bid to oust him. Dowd has a three
Coughlin plans to ask Gov.-elect Phil Murphy to appoint Jones to one of the other open seats at the Sports Authority, and the sources say that he is prepared to use the leverage of the lower house to assure that Jones is quickly returned. That would put Jones in the position of being Prieto’s boss, if Murphy follows through on a commitment to replace NJSEA President/CEO Wayne Hasenbalg with Prieto.
This should not be a heavy lift for Murphy, since most of the Commissioners are on holdover status and some seats remain unfilled by Gov. Chris Christie. Most insiders believe that Murphy will almost certainly replace Christie’s NJSEA Chairman, former Republican Congresman Mike Ferguson. Former Bergen County GOP Chairman Bob Yudin is also on holdover status.
The Senate President’s appointee to the NJSEA is Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura — perhaps additional evidence of the South Jersey/Essex alliance.