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Gov. Phil Murphy, left, with Kevin O’Toole, the chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

O’Toole wins 6th term as Port Authority chairman

Former N.J. senator continues control of bi-state agency

By David Wildstein, February 10 2022 10:36 pm

Kevin J. O’Toole was unanimously re-elected to a 6th term as chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey on Thursday.

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O’Toole, a former Republican state senator originally named to the bi-state post by Gov. Chris Christie, has outmaneuvered any hope of replacing him over the last four years through close relationships with his former colleagues on the Democratic side.

The agency also retained Rick Cotton as executive director.  Cotton was a longtime ally of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, but his successor, Gov. Kathy Hochul, announced her intention to keep him on at a dinner celebrating the Port Authority’s centennial at Cipriani last fall.

One New Jersey seat on the Board of Commissioners has been vacant since September, when Raymond Pocino announced his retirement after 19 years in office.  One of the most influential union officials in the state, Pocino is the eastern regional manager and vice president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America.

There has been speculation since last fall that Elizabeth Mayor Christian Bollwage is under consideration for that seat.  Union County is the only county with a major Port Authority facility that has no representation on the board.

The election of Nicholas Scutari, the Union County Democratic Chairman, as Senate President has strengthened Bollwage’s chances, and the likelihood that O’Toole will remain in office.

Gov. Phil Murphy could have a second vacancy later this year if Commissioner Robert J. Menendez is successful in his bid for the open 8th district congressional seat.  His term expires in 2025.

O’Toole became a commissioner in July 2017 and chairman one month later following the resignation of John Degnan.  He has subsequently been re-elected chairman five times.

He writes a weekly column for the New Jersey Globe, “The O’Toole Chronicles.”

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