State Director, Environment New Jersey
State Director, Environment New Jersey
Trenton – Environment New Jersey released its full slate of endorsements for the state legislative elections, as well as targeted county and mayoral endorsements, as it makes a final push for the public to cast green ballots leading up to Election Day on November 7.
Environment New Jersey released its full slate of legislative, county and mayoral endorsements. Receiving the group’s endorsements are 14 State Assembly and Senate legislative champions spanning 13 legislative districts across the state. The organization endorsed 9 State Senators and Senate candidates with a record of marked environmental leadership, including Senator Patrick Diegnan (D-18), Bob Smith (D-17), Senator Andrew Zwicker (D-16), Senator Linda Greenstein (D-14) and Senator Vin Gopal (D-11). The organization also endorsed the Senate candidacy of Asm. Raj Mukherji (D-33), Asm. John McKeon (D-27), Christine Clarke, the Democratic challenger in the 25th District and Caren Fitzpatrick, an Atlantic County Commissioner running in the 2nd District.
The organization endorsed 5 Assembly members and candidates with a record of marked environmental leadership or working in their communities to address environmental threats. They include Asw. Lisa Swain (D-38), Asm. Clinton Calabrese (D-35), Asm. Jim Kennedy (D-22), Chair of the Assembly Environment Committee, Asm. Stanley Sterley and Asm. Rob Clifton (R-12). These legislators and candidates range in experience from young legislators to Trenton veterans. But they are united in their desire to protect the environment, protect their local communities from environmental hazards, including pipeline projects, and are willing to stand up for the environment in Trenton.
“These leaders are environmental champions in the Legislature,” said Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey. “They have fought for the environment and worked to advocate for a green agenda. Although they face spirited challenges, they have not shied away from standing up for clean air and water, open spaces and clean energy. We need their continued leadership more than ever because we need legislators who lead with the environment.”
This legislative term, our endorsed legislative leaders successfully advocated for the funding for a pilot electric school bus program across the state, implementation of the ban on single-use plastics, including plastic bags and polystyrene, and expanding community solar options for all communities, especially those without previous access to solar. This is in addition to previous support for legislation to expand testing, notification and replacement of lead service lines for schools and homes across the state suffering from lead contamination in their drinking water.
“We urge voters who care about the environment not to sit this election out,” said O’Malley. “Environmentally-minded voters in key districts across the state need to know how critical their vote is this year and why these legislators should be elected to stand up for our air and water and defend against environmental attacks. This year, your vote will count – stand up for the environment inside the voting booth and on your ballot.”
Environment New Jersey also endorsed Dan Benson for Mercer County Executive based on his local advocacy for environmental protections and clean energy, and especially based on his record as Chair of the Assembly Transportation Committee, where he has championed transit funding for all straphangers, as well as more micro-mobility options, including electrification of NJ Transit’s bus fleets. The organization also endorsed Dunellen Mayor Jason Cilento, who has been a climate leader and has built a strong blueprint for local climate resiliency in the face of rising waters from the Rahway River as well as championing expanded transit via the construction of the Gateway Tunnel.
“Every election is important for the environment, but especially an election where every seat in the New Jersey Legislature is up. This is an on-year election for the environment, and we’re going to remind our supporters about the need to cast a green ballot by Election Day,” said O’Malley. “We want to send a clear message to our supporters and the public that their vote matters on the environment and these environmental champions deserve your vote.”
Environment New Jersey is a project of Environment America, Inc., a citizen-based environmental advocacy group based in New Brunswick.
State Senate Endorsed Candidates Background
Assemblyman Raj Mukherji (D-33) is the Assembly Appropriations Vice Chair and has been willing to be an outspoken champion for Hudson County’s environment, including protecting Liberty State Park from privatization, fighting for Jersey City over the NJ Turnpike Authority’s plan to massively expand the Turnpike Extension expansion through the heart of Jersey City and working to championing better transit access across Hudson County. He has been a strong voice for a dedicated source of funding for NJ Transit.
Assemblyman John McKeon (D-27) is a long-time environmental champion and Assembly Environment Committee member. He was a prime sponsor for the successful legislation to ban single use plastic bags, polystyrene containers and single-use plastic straws. He has been a long-time advocate to protect Barnegat Bay and a lead sponsor of successful legislative efforts to give towns and counties the authority to create stormwater utilities to tackle run-off water pollution. He was a prime sponsor of a groundbreaking bill that establishes financing for offshore wind energy off the Jersey Shore and supports a mandatory state policy that would cut energy demand by 20%. The Assemblyman has consistently worked against and voted against bills that would weaken environmental protections, including previous efforts to weaken the Highlands Act, flood plains protections and our waterways. He has been one of the most consistent and reliable voices for environmental protection in the Assembly and is now running for the State Senate.
Senator Patrick Diegnan (D-18) is the chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, and is a crucial voice on funding for NJ Transit and an electric school bus champion. Senator Diegnan is the most respected voice on transportation and transit issues in the Senate. He championed passage of $45 million in funding for electric school buses via the pilot legislation, budget resolutions in both 2022 and 2023 and multiple events with electric school buses this year and last. He has also championed funding for electric buses at NJ Transit and worked to achieve dedicated stable funding for NJ Transit.
Senator Bob Smith (D-17) is the long-standing chair of the Senate Environment Committee. Throughout his tenure in the Senate, he has developed a well-earned reputation for proceeding over the most interesting committee in the Legislature and his legislative record, dating to his prime sponsorship of the Highlands Act to the more recent achievements of the passage of the electric vehicle omnibus bill, the ban on single-use plastic waste and legislation to increase the recycled content of plastics to expanding energy efficiency investments for businesses and increasing appliance efficiency standards. Senator Smith has a sterling environmental legacy.
Senator Andrew Zwicker (D-16) is the proud heir to the environmental tradition of Mercer County Congressman Rush Holt – an environmental and scientific leader. Donning a lab coat for his quirky TV ads, he touts the split benefits of being a physicist and legislator. He has supported a broad set of legislative initiatives to reduce dangerous climate pollutants like methane and supporting electrification of our transportation sector. Sen. Zwicker has been a huge supporter of guiding state environmental decisions based on science – whether it be supporting legislation to tackle climate change, expand clean energy, drinking water standards or the document the ecological impact of the now-defeated PennEast pipeline. He has quickly become of the Legislature’s top environmental leaders.
Senator Linda Greenstein (D-14) is a long-time vice-chair of the Senate Environment Committee. She was a prime sponsor of legislation to clean up PFAS forever chemicals, in addition to past support of an omnibus electric vehicle bill and the ban on single-use plastics and is a instrumental voice in bills that appear before the committee. She has a 20-year record of advocating for more clean, renewable energy, opposing fossil fuel projects and support preservation of New Jersey’s natural resources. Sen. Greenstein has consistently opposed bills that would weaken environmental standards and has one of the most consistent pro-environmental voting records in the Legislature.
Senator Vin Gopal (D-11) has represented his Shore district well, putting environmental and public health concerns high on his legislative list of priorities. He has been a supporter of offshore wind and opposing offshore oil drilling, and directly advocated for an end of the annual raiding of the New Jersey Clean Energy Fund. He was a sponsor of legislation to eliminate lead service lines across the state and he supported electric vehicle legislation, including the omnibus bill, and has championed eliminating single-use plastic waste through the state ban on plastic bags.
Christine Clarke is an environmental activist and a Democratic candidate in the 25th Legislative District. She is a member of the Jersey Renews Steering Committee, the New Jersey March for Science and a former Environmental Director for Action Together New Jersey and a proud mother of four who has forcefully campaigned for a 100% clean, renewable energy future to stave off the climate crisis. The incumbent in the district, Sen. Anthony Bucco (R-25), has a clear anti-environmental voting record and is often one of the few votes against environmental protections in the Senate.
Caren Fitzpatrick is a current Atlantic County Commissioner. She has established herself as a leading South Jersey environmental voice during her term in office on the Atlantic County level. Over her three terms, she has been a strong advocate for offshore wind and has introduced multiple resolutions on offshore wind and been a strong supporter for expanding wind off Atlantic City, including the current Ocean Wind 1 project. Environment New Jersey has partnered with her on numerous events, including electric vehicle ride-and-drives, radio shows and Time For Turbines and she has consistently been strong on our issues. Her opponent, Vince Polistina, has become an outsized voice opposing offshore wind off Atlantic City and has organized public opposition to the offshore wind projects.
State Assembly Endorsed Candidates Background
Assemblywoman Lisa Swain (D-38) is the chair of the Assembly Appropriations Committee who has established herself as a key environmental voice, advocating for full testing and notification of lead contamination in homes and school water supply, as well as replacement of lead service lines by utilities. She has also advocated for testing for PFAS family of forever chemicals in plastics, a full ban of asbestos products, the electrification of transit buses, measuring the full impact of methane pollution (the most potent greenhouse gas) and advocating for a bottle bill for container deposits. She is a clear voice for the environment.
Assemblyman Clinton Calabrese (D-36) is in his third term representing portions of Bergen and Passaic Counties. A Cliffside Park native, the Assemblyman made an early environmental mark with his support for a clean energy economy and public health by opposing the proposed Meadowlands Gas Plant. His legislative record in Trenton has backed up his local environmental advocacy, most notably with his prime sponsorship of legislation to restrict the use of bee-killing neonic pesticides, which is still waiting for final passage in the Assembly. He has already established a strong environmental record in the Assembly since he took office in 2018.
Assemblyman James Kennedy (D-22), as Chair of the Assembly Environment Committee, has been a long-time environmental ally beginning years before he entered the Legislature. He was a prime sponsor of the omnibus electric vehicle bill and is passionate about public health and reducing air pollution, especially reducing its impacts on urban residents. He has supported bills this session to more strongly regulate climate pollutants and to ban single use plastics and cares deeply about moving towards a clean energy economy to fight the impacts of climate change.
Assemblyman Stanley Sterley (D-18) is the Vice Chair of the Assembly Environment Committee. Assemblyman Sterley is in his second term, but he has clearly made the environment one of his priorities. He championed this session the passage of $45 million in funding for electric school buses via the pilot legislation, budget resolutions in both 2022 and 2023 and multiple events with electric school buses this year and last. He has also been a champion against restricting bee-killing neonics pesticides and he has supported composting and right to repair bills.
Assemblyman Rob Clifton (R-12) is a seasoned legislator who works to represent the environment with his voting record, has been willing to buck the party line on key environmental votes and he has worked to try to fix the clear deficiencies with the environmental and public safety impacts of gas pipelines in the state, most notably the Southern Reliability Link (SRL) in his district by working on legislation focused on pipeline safety and siting, adequate notice and reduced takings. The Assemblyman has supported clean, renewable energy initiatives, open space preservation and efforts to fight climate change by reducing carbon pollution, as well as legislation to eliminate lead service lines and the omnibus electric vehicle bill.
Mercer County Executive
Assemblyman Dan Benson (D-14) is running for Mercer County Executive. He has served as Chair of the Assembly Transportation Committee, has been a critical leader in advocating for the expansion of electric vehicles and EV charging infrastructure across the state as the prime sponsor of the omnibus electric vehicle bill. Asm. Benson has a sterling environmental record, especially on clean, renewable energy because of his professional background in energy efficiency, and has been a consistent advocate for NJ Transit straphangers, as well as advocating for stronger protections for our drinking water, including stricter oversight of Trenton Waterworks. He has consistently been a powerful and thoughtful voice for environmental protection in the Assembly.
Endorsed Municipal Candidate Background
Mayor Jason Cilento, (R-Dunellen) is a Leader for Climate Accountability mayoral supporter and has built a strong blueprint for local resiliency plan from floodwaters, clean energy and transit and a visible supporter for climate action. He has publicly touted the need for investments in transit through the Gateway Tunnel, better plans to respond to climate change and flooding (including the Rahway River in his town) and been willing to call out climate polluters for their role in climate change and the need for them to pay. He frames his work in a nonpartisan fashion and works to show other towns how they can follow his lead.
Paid for by Environment New Jersey, a project of Environment America, Inc., 335 George Street, Ste. 4, PMB 1046, New Brunswick, NJ 08901. This expenditure was not made with the cooperation or prior consent of, or in consultation with, or at the request or suggestion of, any candidate, or person or committee acting on behalf of the candidate.