Christie taps Kyrillos for transition team

State senator will play role in shaping N.J.’s executive branch


District 13 state Sen. Joseph Kyrillos will sit on Gov.-elect Chris Christie’s transition team, a group of 10 people who will oversee the passing of the torch between administrations.

Sen. Joseph Kyrillos Sen. Joseph Kyrillos Kyrillos, a 21-year Republican state legislator who served as Christie’s campaign chairman, is a member of a bipartisan team that will help Christie assume executive duties from the outgoing administration of Gov. Jon Corzine.

“I’m going to help the governor-elect prepare in any way I can to lead the state government and lead New Jersey to a better time,” Kyrillos, of Middletown, said in a brief interview Nov. 13.

Joining Kyrillos on the transition team are David Samson, an attorney general under former Gov. Jim McGreevey; Susan Cole, president of Montclair State University; Democratic state Sen. Sandra Cunningham; Debra DiLorenzo, president of the Chamber of Commerce of Southern New Jersey; Michael DuHaime, a political strategist who worked on Rudy Giuliani’s and Sen. John McCain’s presidential bids; George Gilmore, chairman of the Ocean County Republican Party; Jon Hanson, a chairman of Prudential Financial Corp.; Alfred Koeppe, executive director of the Newark Alliance; and John Mc- Cormac, the Democratic mayor of Woodbridge.

The transition team will oversee subcommittees assigned to specific areas of the state government, Kyrillos said. The team will make recommendations on who will fill those subcommittee positions, he said.

Kyrillos said he will focus his efforts in areas of the state budget, spending, taxes and personnel. These are all areas Christie stressed during his campaign, vowing to cut taxes and spending in the state. Christie also spoke at length about shrinking the size of government in New Jersey.

Kyrillos would not say which areas of government residents should expect to see significant changes in.

“I can’t forecast how things in New Jerseywill look in six months or a year,” he said.

Matawan Councilman and Republican campaign strategist Tom Fitzsimmons said a transition team’s main responsibilities are generally to staff the administration and gather information so that new leaders can hit the ground running.

“At the local level, oftentimes newly

elected leaders will be allowed to sit in on council discussions. At the state level, you can multiply the complexity of those issues by a factor of 100,” Fitzsimmons said.

In order to accomplish many of his goals, the Christie administration will have to work with Democrats who control the Assembly and state Senate. Both Kyrillos and Fitzsimmons expect that that will not pose a problem.

Kyrillos said Democrats would work with Christie because of the constitutional powers of the governor’s office. New Jersey has one of the strongest governors in the country with the ability to fully select a cabinet, pending approval by the state Senate, and the power of the line item veto.

“With those tools and the strength of his personality, and a mandate for change and not owing special interest groups anything, you will see significant differences,” Kyrillos said. Fitzsimmons reached the same conclusion, but pinned it more on the turnout of the election.

“I think there’s one thing politicians can do: they know how to count,” he said.

Christie won the race by roughly 100,000 votes, and state legislators will have to take notice, he said.

“They realize the winds shifted a little bit. Because of that, you will see a willingness to cooperate,” he said.