Coughlin chosen as Assembly Speaker


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TRENTON — Assemblyman Craig Coughlin (D-Middlesex), the next New Jersey Assembly Speaker come January, has vowed to help the working middle class by finding new ways to grow the economy.

“That’s why I will create a new standing committee, the Science, Technology and Innovation Committee, that will create legislation designed to put New Jersey at the forefront of emerging industries, utilizing our universities, high schools and business leaders,” he said.

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The incoming Assembly Democratic Majority chose Coughlin on Nov. 13 to replace Assemblyman Vincent Prieto (D-Hudson), who has served the role as speaker since January 2014.

Coughlin, of Woodbridge, received 25,373 votes, in the Nov. 7 election to garner his fifth term in the Assembly, which he has served since 2010.

He will become the 216th Assembly Speaker in January and preside over the 80-member General Assembly.

Democrats have held the majority since 2002 and are expected to hold a 54-28 majority in the 2018-19 legislative session, which will be the largest Democratic majority since 1978.

“I am extremely grateful for the support of my colleagues and am honored by their confidence in me at this crucial time,” Coughlin said. “We have a lot of work ahead to improve our state after the last eight years, and I look forward to working with Gov.-elect [Phil] Murphy, Senate President [Stephen] Sweeney and a unified Democratic Party to stand strong for middle-class New Jerseyans.”

Coughlin said he intends to be a Speaker who leads by consensus and who implements strong communication with my members, so that every voice is heard, regardless of region.

“State government is three prongs and I will ensure that the General Assembly is treated as a co-equal house,” he said.

Coughlin thanked Speaker Prieto for his service.

“[I am] excited by this opportunity to play a key role in building a better future for our state,” he said. “The voters showed their confidence in Democrats, and I can assure everyone that we will be working hard in The People’s House to continue earning that confidence.”

Coughlin, an attorney, received his bachelor of sciences degree from St. John’s University and his law degree from St. John’s University School of Law. He has served as township attorney for Woodbridge Township for more than two decades.

The assemblyman began his public service by serving on the South Amboy school board from 1983 to 1987. He then was elected to the South Amboy Borough Council in 1987, serving until 1993.

He became a Municipal Court judge in Edison Township in 2005, serving until 2009, when he joined the Assembly, representing the 19th Legislative District, which includes Carteret, Perth Amboy, Sayreville, South Amboy and Woodbridge in Middlesex County.

Coughlin has been serving as chairman of the Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee, and has been a leading advocate for controlling out-of-network health care costs that have burdened New Jersey residents.

The assemblyman has also sponsored efforts to create new manufacturing jobs, make higher education more affordable, turn polluted sites into redevelopment areas and help local governments control property taxes by saving on health care costs, shared services and purchasing. He also worked to help promote the job-creating microbrewery industry in New Jersey.

Coughlin has also been heavily involved in community efforts, serving as volunteer fireman in South Amboy from 1976 to 1982 and on the executive board of the Fords Clara Barton Baseball League from 1996 to 2010.

His annual bowling event in partnership with the Raritan Bay Medical Center Foundation and the Middlesex Water Company raises money for local food pantries. Since 2010, the event has raised more than $140,000.

Coughlin and his wife have three sons.

The Assembly’s reorganization is set for Jan. 9.

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