His name is Christopher J. Connors. He’s spent over 21 years in the legislature, and he’s Galloway Township’s new New Jersey Senate representative.
For township purposes, Connors takes the place of Jim Whelan, the Democratic Senator from District 2 who represented Galloway until the municipality was redistricted into District 9 on Sunday.
Now, Galloway has a Republican Senator who is eager to begin representing his new township.
“I actually met with members of the council, including Mayor Keith Hartman, (Monday night) at the convention,” Connors said. “I told them I will make a pilgrimage to Galloway Township to learn about their challenges and how I can help them. I intend to have a very strong presence in Galloway.”
No timetable has been set, but Connors plans to meet with the members of council in an effort to make the transition into its new district as seamless as possible for Galloway.
“Senator Connors has been in a long time,” Hartman said. “He’s a leader and a great guy. He’s done a fantastic job representing his district.”
Connors and Hartman both said they were surprised to see Galloway changed to District 9 on Sunday when the new legislative map was released. Galloway and Tabernacle replaced Hammonton and Folsom.
“I didn’t expect it,” Connors said. “It wasn’t being considered in any of the scenarios I’d seen, but the people who work on the redistricting keep the map very close to their chest.”
“We’ve spent quite a bit of time forging relationships (in District 2) and now we have to bring (the District 9 representatives) up to speed,” Hartman said. “I’m encouraged with the fact that they’re eager to sit down and talk to us about what balls we have in the air and make sure our interests are represented in Trenton.”
Hartman is most concerned about the NextGen Project.
“We just need to be sure they’re all up to speed,” Hartman said. “They are engaged in Trenton, and they’re going to make sure Galloway doesn’t slip through the cracks. That’s the stuff I have my finger on the pulse of.”
The total population of District 9 is now down 17,000 people, to about 220,000. The district is the third largest in New Jersey, and covers parts of Atlantic and Burlington counties, with a majority of its municipalities in Ocean County.
Galloway, formerly the second biggest municipality in District 2, now becomes the second biggest municipality in District 9, and Hartman believes Galloway will have the most delegates based on Republican voter population.
Connors said the fact that District 9 is heavily focused on Ocean County shouldn’t discourage anyone who was considering running for office when Galloway was in District 2.
“Any individual who feels compelled to run for office is welcome to do so,” Connors said. “ … There’s a lot to get familiar with. It’s no easy task.”
Hartman, who had shown interest in running for Vince Polistina’s open assembly seat, is now in no position to do that after being moved to another district. He said his desire to serve in the legislature hasn’t diminished, but his decision to run for any seat now depends on circumstances in District 9.
The council must now pay attention to what is happening in both Atlantic and Ocean counties.
“We’re used to Atlantic County,” Hartman said. “We know who they are. Now, we’re dealing with completely different people. … We were at the (Atlantic County Republican) convention (Monday night) and 90 percent of the people in the room were looking at (the Atlantic County representatives) and we weren’t. We felt like a fish out of water, like maybe we should be at the Ocean County convention.”
Connors is hoping to help ease the transition and make Galloway feel as welcome in the district as the other municipalities do.
“Constituent service is a hallmark of our office,” Connors said. “We are responsive to the people. We return all phone calls and we respond to every letter and email.
“I’m very proud to have the opportunity to represent Galloway,” Connors said. “ … Many municipalities have had to do more with less, and Galloway seems to have been able to do that in a responsible way. People tend to gravitate toward those who represent the right choice, and look for people that represent them the right way. They’ve done that in Galloway.”
Hartman sees the advantage of being in a new district with a Republican representative while having a close relationship with a possible future senator in his former district. Polistina will challenge Democratic Senator Jim Whelan in November.
“Over the weekend, I felt like I was losing one of my best friends who’s no longer my representative (Vince Polistina), but if I was going to pick someone else, it would be (Connors). … If you’re going to find a silver lining, it would be that we’re (possibly) getting two senators that represent our interests.
"Vince is not walking away from Galloway Township. This is his hometown. He will work closely with (the District 9 representatives) to help make the transition easier. We will not let Galloway just go away."
Connors earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, and served in the Assembly from 1989-2007 before becoming a Senator in 2008.
Brian E. Rumpf has been an Assemblyman in District 9 since 2003, and has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from The Catholic University of America.
DiAnne Gove has been an Assemblywoman in District 9 since 2009, and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Service from Cabrini College.
At this time, it is unknown who their opponents will be in the November election.