It was as if the General Assembly chamber in Trenton had a mechitza down the middle. But instead of separating the genders, it separated the festive atmosphere on the Democratic side from the mostly empty Republican side.
The occasion was the opening of the lame duck session, highlighted by the swearing in of the newest member of the body, Troy Singleton.
Video below. More text after the fold.
Singleton is no stranger to the chamber. He served as chief of staff to former speaker Joe Roberts, who was in attendance along with other Garden State dignitaries. Blue Jersey writer Senator Loretta Weinberg was in the audience along with Singleton’s predecessor, former Assemblyman Jack Conners. Several other senators were spotted along with Blue Jersey alumnus Jason Springer, now the Democrats’ communications guru. But in an ominous sign that the progressive wing of the party is diminished, both Assemblyman Joe Cryan and Senator Barbara Buono were nowhere to be seen.
While most of the freshman Assemblypersons who were elected earlier this month will be sworn in come January, Singleton got a head start, being appointed to Conners’ seat. Conners resigned earlier this year after his home town of Pennsauken was moved out of the district. (Conners is now working vererans’ issues for Camden County.)
Of course, Singleton’s wife and children were there to witness the occasion. After remarks by Speaker Oliver and representatives of both parties, Singleton was overcome by emotion about joining his former colleagues in a proactive voting role instead of a support role.
Also sworn in today was Republican Geraldine Nardello, former Mount Laurel mayor, to sit in the lame duck session until newly elected Assemblyman Chris Brown is sworn in this January. Nardello was appointed by the GOP to replace Pat Delany who recently resigned from the legislature. So even though Singleton defeated the current Mount Laurel mayor, Jim Keenan, a former mayor from the same town will sit on the other side of the aisle – at least for the next seven weeks.
I know I won’t agree with Singleton on every issue, especially some of the key education issues that will be discussed in the Assembly. But I’m thrilled that a man of character, intelligence, and energy is going to Trenton to represent the Seventh District. Best of luck, Troy.