Newark Lawmaker Becomes First Latina Elected State Senate Majority Leader

“I want to thank my colleagues for electing me to serve as the Senate Majority Leader for the upcoming legislative session. I am honored to be the first Latina to hold this position,” Ruiz said. "Together with Senator Scutari, Senator Cunningham and the entire Democratic Caucus, we can work to create policy and improve government that works for everyone who calls New Jersey home.”

The change in Senate leadership was prompted by surprising Election Day upset in New Jersey's third legislative district, where Sen. Steve Sweeney was toppled by Republican Edward Durr, a trucker from Gloucester City. Sweeney had been the Senate President since 2010, making him the longest serving Senate leader in New Jersey history. He previously served for two years as majority leader.

Ruiz's assent to the top ranks of leadership in the Senate drew praise from elected leaders in Newark and around the state.

Mayor Ras Baraka, who is also president of the New Jersey Urban Mayors Association, said Ruiz has always fought for Newark families and the growth of the city. 

"She exemplifies fearless leadership and is committed to changing policy that impacts black and brown communities and our urban centers," Baraka said. "She has always been at the forefront of passing audacious, progressive, legislation, which has justly benefitted our entire state, especially the City of Newark."

New Jersey Democratic State Committee Chairman LeRoy J. Jones, Jr., called Ruiz a strong, determined, and progressive leader.

"Senator Ruiz has always advocated for New Jersey’s working families, for Black and brown communities, and for our most vulnerable populations," said Jones, who served as chair of the Essex County Democratic Committee, which Ruiz served as co-chiar. "I am confident that with her leadership, as well as the leadership of Senate President Scutari and the rest of his diverse and experienced team, Governor Murphy, and Assembly Speaker Coughlin, New Jersey will continue to lead the way on pursuing a bold policy agenda that delivers the kind of meaningful progress for working and middle class families that we must strive for.”

Sen. Cory Booker and Robert Menendez both congratulated Ruiz on her new position. On Twitter, Booker called her a history maker who has made Essex County proud. 

Menendez said having a Latina in a top leadership position will ensure New Jersey’s  Latino community has a strong voice advocating for them in Trenton.

“For well over a decade, I have seen firsthand the level of commitment Senator Ruiz has for her constituents and the passion she has for advancing causes from education and social justice to immigration and women’s health care," Menendez said. "I know her grit and determination, as well as her fiery, no-nonsense Newark attitude will serve her well in this role and will help ensure that bold, progressive policies that will have a real impact on hardworking families across New Jersey make it to the Governor’s desk.

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published this page in News and Politics 2021-11-15 03:41:09 -0800