Governor-elect Phil Murphy nominated four women for key positions in his cabinet this week, including a Lawrence native who formerly served as the head of the New Jersey Turnpike Authority.
Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti has been nominated to serve as the next New Jersey Commissioner of Department of Transportation, overseeing 2,700 miles of state roadways and nearly 3,900 employees.
Gutierrez-Scaccetti, 58, worked at the New Jersey Turnpike Authority for 21 years, retiring in 2010 as executive director. Since 2011, she has served as executive director of the Florida Turnpike Enterprise. Raised in Lawrence, Gutierrez-Scaccetti holds degrees from the University of Connecticut and Rutgers University.
“I don’t think we can possibly overstate how important this job is, or, how challenging it will be. But I also can’t overstate how qualified Diane is to meet these challenges as the head of the Department of Transportation,” Murphy said in announcing the nomination. “We need Diane’s leadership to ensure we are building strong, new connections between our communities, not just putting down more band-aids. We will need her to work alongside our partners at the Port Authority, our friends in New York and Pennsylvania, and our federal government. And, we need her to take hold of the national disgrace that is NJ Transit, turn it upside down, and shake it up, so that we can make it right again.”
Gutierrez-Scaccetti said her goal will be to make sure no resident wake ups wondering if their trip to work will made worse by bad roads or failing rail service — a tall order in recent years as delays have become commonplace on NJ Transit trains. “The job won’t be easy, and we won’t fix everything overnight, but we’re going to get back on track,” she said.
Murphy has nominated Catherine McCabe to Lead the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. McCabe has served as a deputy assistant administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, as a judge on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Court of Appeals, as the deputy and acting regional administrator for Region 2, and as the acting administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. She previously spent 22 years working on environmental issues at the United States Department of Justice, and was named deputy chief of the environmental enforcement section in 2001.
“Catherine has been recognized throughout her career as a strong advocate and leader, and I am asking her to reassert New Jersey’s leadership on the national and global stages” Murphy said. “New Jersey needs a commissioner who understands fully the threats we face, who is tough on polluters, who is understanding of those living in environmentally sensitive areas, and who recognizes that our twin goals of a resilient and responsible future and a strong and fair economy aren’t mutually exclusive. She is the leader we need to make policy based on scientific fact, not politics.”
McCabe, 66, holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental science and a law degree, both from Columbia University. She said she would focus on restoring “essential principles” of following the best science and the law to ensure the department’s fundamental duty to protect both the environment and public health.
Murphy said he will look to McCabe to help develop a new energy master plan for the state that would put New Jersey on the path to 100-percent clean energy reliance by 2050.
He nominated New Jersey Assemblywoman Marlene Caride of Ridgefield to lead the Department of Banking and Insurance. If her nomination is confirmed, she would be first Hispanic to hold the position
“New Jerseyans need a watchdog at the Department of Banking and Insurance to look out for them,” Murphy said. “They need a Commissioner who will ensure their health insurance policy is worth the paper it’s printed on, to ensure the banks where they save for their futures or where our small businesses go to grow our economy are stable and viable, and to have their backs when they make the most important and largest purchase in their lives – a home. Assemblywoman Caride will be that watchdog.”
Murphy said Caride also will help him establish a public bank for New Jersey.
“As a small business owner, I know how difficult it can be to grow without the necessary financial backing or expand in a weak economy. We need to encourage small businesses to grow and we need to help provide them with the tools to grow,” Caride said. “I’m pleased to have the opportunity to work with our governor-elect to establish a public bank for New Jersey that will help our economy grow and support our small businesses, help our college students with reasonable and low interest school loans, and support small-scale infrastructure projects.”
Caride, 54, has served in the New Jersey General Assembly since 2012, where she represents the 36th Legislative District, which includes parts of Bergen and Passaic counties. She is chair of the Assembly Education Committee, a member of the Appropriations, Financial Institutions and Insurance committees, and sits on the Intergovernmental Relations Commission. She earned her bachelor’s degree in education from Fairleigh Dickinson University and her law degree from the California Western School of Law. She a partner in private practice with the firm of Gonzalez & Caride and currently serves as the municipal prosecutor in Ridgewood. She was born in Weehawken to Cuban immigrant parents.
Murphy nominated Tahesha Way, a former New Jersey Administrative Law Judge and Passaic County Freeholder, to serve as Secretary of State, overseeing a portfolio of state agencies that includes the New Jersey Division of Tourism and the Division of Elections, as well as all state historic and cultural commissions.
Way, a resident of Wayne, earned her undergraduate degree from Brown University and her law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law.
“There are few positions in my cabinet where the twin goals of building a stronger and fairer economy intersect more than that of Secretary of State,” Murphy said. “New Jersey’s Department of State has a broad mandate, overseeing everything from state tourism and voting, to cultural heritage and history, to the commissions which strengthen our international partnerships. Having a Secretary of State who will give equal importance to each and every facet of these divisions, agencies, and commissions is of the utmost importance. It requires a leader who understands both business and law, who respects the vast cultures which make our state a melting pot, and who has the tested leadership skills necessary for guiding a Department with such broad and varied mandates.”