Senators Bid Goodbye to Their Own, Among Them Governor Codey

State senators this afternoon paid tribute to ten of their retiring colleagues on their last day of service in the New Jersey Senate. Chief among those retiring lawmakers to receive a ceremonial resolution was Senator Dick Codey, former governor and former senate president.

Codey thanked his wife, former New Jersey First Lady Mary Jo.

“She has the patience of a saint, and has no interest in politics,” said the Essex-based senator from Orange.

“I was raised on the third floor of a funeral,” he added, choking up. “I’ve lived a life, long and full. You never know in life. The biggest people come down to dealing with government.

“Never forget the less fortunate,” he said.

Codey served in the senate for 50 years.

“A lifetime full of helping others,” summed-up state Senator Joe Cryan (D-20). “He’s a protege of Senator Pat Dodd of West Orange. The thing that always surprised me was Pat Dodd was a gregarious guy who owned a tavern and Senator Codey never took a drink in his life.”

Codey always paid attention to the person in front of him, Cryan added.

Perhaps most significantly, the senator from Union County noted, Codey became governor and served with distinction in the aftermath of James McGreevey’s resignation. “He brought us back and along the way he made us aware [of those in our midst suffering the stigma, and challenges of mental health],” Cryan said.

“The most important person in the room is the person who needs to talk to ‘the Guv,'” he added. “He taught us a lesson about listening. …So many people in this state are better off because they met Dick Codey.”

Cunningham
Cunningham

Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Ruiz (D-29) lauded her friend Senator Sandra Cunningham (D-31).

“Sandy Cunningham was a stalwart democratic individual. She’s really a cowgirl. She loves horses and spending time on a ranch,” Ruiz said. “People say in politics you don’t make friends. That is certainly not true. Senator Cunningham is my friend.”

“What fun we had,” said Senator Bob Singer (R-30). “She cared about individuals throughout New Jersey, especially those from Jersey City.”

“She certainly made a mark on the higher education spectrum and as someone we will miss here,” said Senate President Nick Scutari (D-22).

Next, “It is with great pride and affection that I take this opportunity to pay tribute to my friend,

Gill
Gill

Senator Nia Gill (D-34),” said state Senator Shirley Turner (D-15). “It is hard to imagine what the last 30 years would be like without her. Her fashion sense was second to none and so was her commitment to the people of the 34th District.”

“Senator Gill and I served together,” Singer said of Gill. “What fun times we had. Someone who cared about other senators and what we thought. She always reminded us of what we should be careful and what we should be doing. …Too many times we don’t debate things fairly. Senator Gill did.”

Turner and Singer especially noted Gill’s commitment to the poor and downtrodden.

In his own tribute to the former governor, state Senator Tony Bucco, Jr. (R-25) said to Codey, “You have had a brilliant career. …You have had the courage over the course of your career to step out of the comfort zone.”

Said Singer of Codey, “Dick and I are friends. Dick and I used to race together, trotters. We had fun. There were eight of us who were in trotters. Imagine us at the Meadowlands, driving the horses. Of course, Dick always had the best horses, that’s why he always won.”

Madden

Bucco said to retiring Senator Fred Madden (D-4), “You’re the kind of person you want to have a beer with.”

Madden got a big hand.

A retired state policeman, the South Jerseyan soaked up the applause.

“You took me down memory lane,” Madden told the senate president, with whom he first assumed the oath of office 20 years ago. “[In the senate], I saw people who put their heart and soul into everything they do. …That’s been a great experience.”

Senator Madden on the floor of the Senate today.

 

Senator Vince Polistina (R-2) honored retiring state Senator Jean Stanfield (R-8).

“She has had a lifetime of public service… becoming the sheriff of Burlington County,” Polistina said.

Jean Stanfield
Stanfield

“That was the bulk of her career. …She thought she was going to be out again and she won [the senate seat].

“A kind and giving person,” said Polistina. “We’re going to miss her, but we may pull her in one last time.”

Senator Troy Singleton (D-7) likewise honored Stanfield.

“Those of us in Burlington County have known Jean for a long time, not for her title but because of her Midwestern charm,” Singleton said. “She has your back because of a word of kindness. …Her time here was short but her impact was great.”

“She had time to vote for me,” said Scutari.

Sacco
Sacco (photo by Al Sullivan)

Next came Senator Nick Sacco (D-32).

“It’s a pleasure to rise on behalf of Senator Sacco today,” said Senator Brian P. Stack (D-33) of Union City, honoring his neighbor in North Bergen. “Nick, you’ll be missed in the senate here.”

Singer:

“I had the honor of serving with him [Sacco] on transportation. What a wonderful man. …There’s a sadness when people with that knowledge and understanding [notably service as a mayor, retire]. Understanding local government and bringing that to the table here means so much. … Senator Sacco, you’ve done a great job. God bless you and all you’ve done.”

Scutari:

“He [Sacco] stuck with me.”

There were no tears from the ever-phlegmatic Sacco.

“I’m so happy to be gone; after 30 years, it’s time,” he said.

Sacco gives his farewell.

Senator Sam Thompson (D-12) was up next.

“There’s always a home for you here,” Senator Vin Gopal (D-11) told Thompson, who ends his career as

Thompson
Thompson

a Democrat, not a Republican, the party that dumped him.

“Political party never really mattered [to Thompson],” added Gopal.

Employed by the New Jersey Department of Health for 20 years, Thompson “even in this past 12 months was always prepared,” said Scutari. “Deemed to be extraordinarily reliable to me and to the Democratic Party.”

“I was born in Mobile, Alabama during WWII,” said Thompson, a retired research scientist. “You’ve all been such wonderful friends. Thank you for your support.”

Thompson

Next rose retiring Senator Chris Connors (R-9).

Connors

“Chris brought something to the senate a little different – he is a true environmentalist,” said Singer.

Quiet.

But effective.

Bucco chose those words to characterize his friend and colleague.

The senate president was similarly laudatory.

“I was coming out of my shore house, and I was trying to find a way to go.” Scutari recalled. “I had a pretty souped-up car.”

He chased Connors’ late father through the Pine Barrens to find his way back to civilization.

“I have mixed feelings about leaving. When you can’t give 100%, it’s time to step aside and let someone else serve the people,” Connors said.

He implored his colleagues in the name of public service collegiality, “Don’t let Trenton become what Washington has become.”

Bucco rose next to bid farewell to Senator Ed Durr (R-3).

“You exploded onto the scene here in the senate, probably like no other, after beating one of the most

Durr

powerful elected officials in the state at the time,” said the Republican leader.

Durr defeated Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) in 2021.

Then he lost last year to Sweeney slate mate former Assemblyman John Burzichelli (D-3).

One and done.

“You’ve only been here a short time, but you’ve left your mark on our caucus, you’ve left your mark on the senate… and on the state,” said Bucco of the over-the-road truck driver.

“Ed ‘The Trucker’ Durr,” mused state Senator Joe Pennacchio (R-26). “The political pundits gave him no chance. He proved the pundits wrong. But he also proved our founding fathers right. … Senator Durr showed all of us that the impossible can be made possible. His efforts were for the people, by the people, and of the people.”

Durr received a big standing ovation.

“My staff,” said the retiring Republican senator, with gratitude.

He thanked Republicans and Democrats alike.

“In the immortal words of the Terminator, ‘I’ll be back.'”

Durr

 

Oroho
Oroho

[Senator] Steve Oroho [R-24] is probably the classiest person anyone of us has served with,” said Senator Declan O’Scanlon (R-13).

Tremendous knowledge and conviction.

Zero arrogance.

“Steve is the only person I know… the smartest guy in the room and the most humble man as well,” O’Scanlon said.

“You’ve had a very consequential legacy here,” chimed Scutari. “You epitomize what we try to do here. You’re going to be missed.”

“Compassionate and very bright,” offered state Senator Paul Sarlo (D-36). “For me personally, when you leave here, you will have a friend for life.”

A standing ovation ensued.

“It’s a little surreal,” said Oroho. “It’s probably the closest thing to being awake at your own funeral. It’s been such an honor to be here for 16 years.”

Oroho

 

The full list of retiring (or retired, as the consequence of an election) senators:

Chris Connors

Steve Oroho

Sandra Cunningham

Dick Codey

Nia Gill

Ed Durr

Fred Madden

Nick Sacco

Jean Stanfield

Sam Thompson

 

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3 responses to “Senators Bid Goodbye to Their Own, Among Them Governor Codey”

  1. Two (2) terms for NJ Senators, whether Dims or Republicans, is too long. The reason why the State is in such dire straits is you have Democrats, mostly, in office 20,30, 50 years of destruction of the State. People complain about NJ politics being corrupt. This is why. New Jersey has been wrecked by over 25 years of Democrat control of the Legislature by long-term Democrat legislators who want Socialism and total power that comes with it (totalitarianism).

    New Jersey property taxes were supposed to be substantially reduced over the past 50 years, with the promises of enacting the sales tax, income tax, lottery, horse betting, off-track betting, casino gambling, on-line gambling, and now legalizing marijuana (illicit drugs). It has been a total lie for the past 50 years. And, guess who has been in charge of this lie? The Democrats!!!!

  2. I’m sad to see these dedicated public servants retire. Senator Codey has been a beacon of hope for the people of New Jersey and has worked tirelessly to make our state a better place. His legacy will be remembered for years to come. Thank you for your service!

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