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One of the more important local government jobs is county prosecutor – the top law enforcement official in all 21 counties.
Politics, naturally, has a lot to do with who gets these jobs, and in some cases, how people lose them.
In Morris County in 2012, then-prosecutor Robert Bianchi enjoyed the job so much he refused to leave. Eventually, he was removed by the state Attorney General’s Office. This was more than a year after his term officially ended.
Bianchi, a Democrat, was replaced by Republican Fred Knapp, whose five-year run is ending this summer. Knapp has been there since late 2012, having served as “acting prosecutor” until he was officially confirmed more than a year after he took the position.
This type of stuff is common. Many prosecutors are “acting,” or “holdovers,” because state officials are not always as prompt as they should be in filling the position.
The governor makes a nomination, which is then considered by the state Senate. The governor hardly works in a vacuum. Many influence the selection, including the local party leader and the local state senators, who must “sign-off” on the nominee. The name for this archaic and rather un-democratic tradition – one senator can gum up the works – is “senatorial courtesy.” All this can take time.
At any rate, sources say names being considered for the Morris job include Maggie Calderwood, a more than 20-year veteran of the office who is now Chief Assistant Prosecutor, and Sabrina Comizzoli, who has been with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Jersey since 2002.
There may be other individuals under consideration as well, but the names surfacing already suggest Morris may be in line to get its first female county prosecutor. Welcome to 2019.
Full Disclosure: The writer of this article served as Public Information Officer for the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office for seven months in 2017.