HARRY HURLEY OPINION EDITORIAL

I take no pleasure in writing this because New Jersey State Senate President Steve Sweeney is a friend and I know that he’s a good man.

Sweeney has also been a great friend to Atlantic County. That makes his current blatantly political actions all the more surprising.

It is inexcusable to delay the official swearing-in of Senator Vince Polistina, R-2, until after the November 2, 2021, General Election.

The residents of Atlantic County deserve to have their duly selected representative officially installed into office without delay.

With the technology that is readily available, Sweeney could effortlessly assemble the State Senate by video conference. No one would have to burn a drop of gasoline.

It is sadly apparent that Sweeney has chosen to “protect” Polistina’s opponent Vince Mazzeo, in favor of doing the right thing.

The political calculus is that denying Polistina being seated helps Mazzeo in the General Election.

This is very out of character for Sweeney to behave in this manner.

Senate President Steve Sweeney speaks at the budget signing ceremony on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020 (Edwin J. Torres/Governor's Office)

It should be noted that we have confirmed that Sweeney was not consulted during the entire former Senator Chris Brown discussions about Brown taking a full-time position within the Governor Phil Murphy administration.

That was wrong. He should have been brought into the process. But, that has nothing at all to do with Polistina, or, filling the 2nd District Senate vacancy.

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I have confirmed that Sweeney and Polistina talked yesterday. Polistina would not disclose much of the details, except to say that Sweeney would not be calling the Senate back into session prior to the General Election and that Sweeney was pleasant during their talk.

“We had a good cordial chat, but we have a difference of opinion. I believe the Senate needs to be dynamic and adapt to changes - the people of the district deserve to have a Senator for the next 12 weeks … but he thinks because he adjourned there is no reason to go back,” said Polistina.

I still remain confident that Polistina can seek immediate legal remedy and be sworn into office without Sweeney’s “blessing.”

No one person should have the right to deny tens of thousands of New Jersey residents their right to have their legislator both properly and promptly seated.

Throughout New Jersey history, the average time from a Senator being appointed, to the actual swearing-in ceremony in the State Senate Chambers has been an average of 38 days.

This was before the advent of digital technology becoming available.

The Polistina delay would be in the neighborhood of 120 days. That is disgraceful and unacceptable.

Polistina should not allow a purely Democrat political ploy to succeed. He has legal remedies at his disposal.

Regardless of how this ultimately plays out over the next 3 months, Polistina is The Senator and he has already gone to work, despite the blatant partisan interference that regretfully is in full effect.

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