After the death of Essex County Democratic Party Chair Phil Thigpen, the county has a new Democratic chairman in LeRoy Jones. Now taking over where Thigpen left off, Jones told NJTV News Managing Editor Mike Schneider that he is honored to take on the role.
“It is quite an honor to a man like Chairman Thigpen,” said Jones. “You know Phil, as I fondly refer to him, he’s been a friend and a mentor to me for years on end, leaves very, very big shoes to fill and as I said at the outset, it’s an honor and a privilege just being considered for the opportunity to continue his work.”
As the new Democratic chairman in Essex County, Jones says he will build from where Thigpen left off. He would like to be recognized as a person that takes on the issues that the county has to deal with on a day-to-day basis.
During the gubernatorial race between Gov. Chris Christie and Democratic challenger Barbara Buono, Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo had been accused by members of his own political party of not showing any loyalty to Buono.
“Well those are decisions that Joe made as an individual and obviously he was very grounded with those positions that he took and with respect to him, he dealt with them with his own set of reasoning,” said Jones.
Within the New Jersey Legislative Assembly, Speaker Sheila Oliver will be leaving her position as Assembly speaker and Vinny Prieto has been selected by the Assembly to become her successor. Jones has some concern with Oliver leaving the position but expects to have a good working relationship with Prieto.
“It was a very good thing for Essex County,” said Jones. “Sheila Oliver is a personal friend and a very distinguished leader in her own right. Is it a loss for Essex County? Yes it is. Her successor Vinny Prieto — good guy, good legislator, good budget chair. Do we expect a good working relationship with incoming Speaker Prieto? Yes we do.”
When Jones was selected to fill the Essex County Democratic chairman position, he drew praise from Passaic County Democratic Chairman John Currie. There has been discussion about whether Currie would stay as chairman, but Jones would like to see Currie remain in the position. Jones says Currie has done a good job and is respected all over the state.