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Statements on Senate President Sweeney

TRENTON – Senate colleagues and community leaders issued the following statements on Senate President Steve Sweeney’s leadership as the longest serving Senate President in New Jersey history:

“Senate President Sweeney has been a true partner in some of the most important social justice reforms of our time,” said Richard Smith, President, New Jersey NAACP. “From bail reform to expungement, the legalization of marijuana, fair housing and efforts to make police departments more diverse, Steve was the driving force in the Legislature. These reforms would not have happened without him. He always valued my input and always respected the perspective of the NAACP and those we represent. His departure from the Senate will be a real loss, but the progress he was so instrumental in achieving will be long lasting.”

“Steve Sweeney was the most consequential Senate President in New Jersey history, and my partner in pushing through a broad array of important and progressive legislation,” said Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen). “Senator Sweeney fought for the restoration of funding for women’s healthcare, the $15 minimum wage, paid family leave, earned sick leave, pay equity, workplace protection against harassment and discrimination, marijuana legalization, bail reform and other social justice issues. He had a unique ability to marshal coalitions of moderates and liberals to get things done, and he and I shared a stubborn willingness to fight for what we believed in, regardless of the political consequences. Neither of us is going away.”

“I am incredibly grateful I had the opportunity to work with Senate President Sweeney, who has not only been an ally but also a friend. He had the confidence to appoint me as Chair of the Education Committee, and later, as a partner on his leadership team,” said Senator M. Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex). “For the last decade he has been a strong voice for our caucus and a tireless advocate, fighting to ensure fair funding for our schools, adequate services for students with disabilities and more than anything equitable opportunities for the children of our state. Together, we have advanced countless pieces of legislation to improve the lives of families in New Jersey which would not have been possible without Senator Sweeney’s steadfast leadership and dedication to serving the residents of this state.”

“For the past several years, New Jersey has been at the forefront of criminal justice reform, which would not have been possible without the support and advocacy of Senate President Steve Sweeney,” said Senator Sandra Cunningham (D-Hudson). “It has been a privilege to serve on his leadership team and have him in my corner as we fought to ban the box, enact bail reform, improve reentry services and expand expungement. Throughout his tenure, he has undoubtedly helped to make New Jersey a better, more just place to live for everyone who calls it home.”

“Senator Sweeney has a record of responsibility on fiscal issues that is unparalleled among state leaders,” said Senator Paul Sarlo (D-Bergen), the chairman of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. “I worked with him to bring fiscal reforms to state finances that have saved money for taxpayers, reduced expenses for state government and made public services more efficient. We put the state’s pension system on firm footing, which will result in long-term benefits for everyone. We also worked effectively to promote economic growth with an emphasis on jobs and expanded opportunities, especially for small businesses, which are vital to communities across the state. Senator Sweeney’s influence and impact will be long lasting.

“No one has done more for the disability community than Steve Sweeney,” said Thomas Baffuto, Executive Director of The Arc of New Jersey. “I know this was personal to Steve, but he fought for the rights of everyone with a developmental disability, the needs of the families and the ability of organizations and their workers to provide the support they need. He elevated this issue to the forefront of policy makers and the public’s conscience. He even established the Legislative Disability Caucus to ensure that the issues of importance to the disability community are addressed on an ongoing basis. On a personal level, Steve and his daughter Lauren have become personal friends. These are friendships I will always value.”

“Senate President Sweeney has been a strong and conscientious leader not only in our Legislature but across our state,” said Senator Nellie Pou (D-Bergen/Passaic). “It has been my privilege to work beside him and to witness firsthand his extreme sensibility in making sure first-class programs and services were made available to residents with disabilities, and for those in need of mental health services. I have also seen his leadership when it came to passage of the Economic Recovery Act, which has gone a long way toward helping to revitalize communities in great need, such as those in my district in the City of Paterson. Steve came to our city, and toured its neighborhoods, walked its streets and saw its vacant properties, all in order to see exactly what was needed to provide these communities with more housing, health care and opportunity. I am going to miss his friendship, and our great working relationship, that includes a mutual respect that’s so important in the work that we do. We might not always have agreed, but I always knew that he respected my opinion and was willing to hear me out. He not only led, he led with sensibility and empathy. To me that is the mark of a true leader.”

“Steve has dedicated the past two decades of his life to representing working men and women in the Legislature,” said Senator Troy Singleton (D-Burlington). “In addition, he has been a forceful advocate on behalf individuals who have special needs and for the entire South Jersey region. His unwavering leadership, sharp policy acumen, and willingness to compromise have made his tenure as Senate President one of the most productive. In addition to being my colleague, he has more importantly been my friend for more than 20 years, and I will certainly miss seeing him in the Senate Chamber and at our Caucus table.”