State Sen. Nia H. Gill (D-34) announced her candidacy for Senate president on Saturday. Gill is seen addressing a crowd in June during a celebration of the life of Montclair barber and mentor Celess Young. (KATE ALBRIGHT / FILE PHOTO)

By TALIA WIENER
wiener@montclair.news

Montclair resident and state Sen. Nia H. Gill (D-34) is looking to fill the Senate president spot left open by Sen. Stephen Sweeney’s defeat on Election Day.  She announced her candidacy for the seat on Saturday, Nov. 6.

Sweeney, a Democrat and the longest-tenured state Senate leader in New Jersey history, lost his District 3 seat to Ed Durr, a Republican truck driver who has never held elective office. He had served as Senate president since 2010.

“On Tuesday, the voters spoke, and with their voices, resoundingly rejected the business of  politics as usual,” Gill, who won her election Tuesday with more than 78% of the district vote, said in a Saturday press release. “This past election resulted in a mandate for change from the voters. We must meet that mandate and reestablish transparency and accountability within the Statehouse.”

State Sen. Nick Scutari (D-22), whose district is in Somerset, Middlesex and Union counties, is also running for the position and has already secured the necessary votes, New Jersey Globe reported Friday. Legislative and political sources told NJ.com that Scutari had emerged as the frontrunner for the position

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Black and Latino leaders have called on the Legislature to select a person of color as the next Senate president, and state Sen. Ronald L. Rice (D-28) said he supports Gill for the position, according to Inside NJ

Gill has represented the 34th District in the Senate since 2002. 

With 99.34% of precincts reporting as of 9:30 a.m. Sunday, Gill bested Republican challenger Scott Pollack 35,443 to 9,721, NJ.com reported. Montclair voters similarly backed Gill, giving her 12,076 votes and Pollack 1,702 as of 9:30 a.m. Sunday.

Those results are unofficial, and do not include provisional ballots or mail-in votes that hadn’t yet been processed.

“We are at a pivotal moment for the future of the State of New Jersey,” Gill said in the press release. “As Senate president, I look to lead our chamber in a way that reflects and is responsive to meet our state’s rich diversity of needs.”

Gill served in the New Jersey General Assembly from 1994 to 2001, where she was minority whip from 1996 to 2001, according to her biography on the Legislature’s website. She first ran for and won a seat in the state Senate in 2002 and served as Senate president pro tempore from 2010 to 2017. She is a member of the Legislative Oversight, Law and Public Safety and Transportation committees. 

Gill ran unsuccessfully as a candidate for Congress in the 2012 primary election.