SPARTA, NJ – Members of the Sussex, Warren, and Morris County Republican Committees, gathered today at the Sussex County Vocational Technical School, filling up most of the front section of the school’s auditorium, to choose the next person to fill the vacated spot in New Jersey Legislative District 24. This action followed the resignation of Gary Chiusano, who was appointed by Governor Chris Christie, to take over as Sussex County Surrogate, after the retirement of surrogate Nancy Fitzgibbons in Dec. 2012.
Parker Space was their choice.
“It is with absolute great pleasure that I announce Parker Space as our next assemblyman,” remarked Ailish Hambel, Sussex County Chairwoman of the Republican Committee.
Hambel reported out of 158 votes, Space won with 103 votes, followed by the other nominees, Bader Qarmout, with 49 votes, John Wrobleski with four votes, and Mark Quick carrying two of the votes.
It’s bittersweet, it’s also an opportunity for a larger area of people to give back to,” Space told The Alternative Press, after hearing the announcement. “Everything you do in life is a learning experience.”
Space said he expects to report to Trenton on Tuesday.
Space is currently the Freeholder Director, on the Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders, having served since June 2010.
Come election time, Space will be required to be elected to his seat. Like Chiusano, he will be in his post currently until the end of 2013, and will go through the election process.
Members of the committee began arriving at noon, and the event was delayed until after 12:30 p.m., with some members prevented from arriving due to an accident on Route 94. Once the process was underway, it was debated by some of the members about whether or not write-in candidates could have been accepted for today. Some members said they were not notified of the event by mail, and thus preventing the possibility of being a candidate (with 20 signatures minimally required to be gathered in advance of seven days), and other countered, the rules had not been voted as of today, so they were not in existence.
Space suggested a “friendly amendment,” to the rules previously set in place.
“If you want to open it up to other candidates, I’m amenable to that,” Space said.
The idea was embraced, and then seconded.
Space received the first and second nominations from assemblywoman Alison Littell McHose (R-24), and senator Steve Oroho (R-24), with whom he will now be working with.
Littell McHose described Space with many favorable words, including, “ethical, family-oriented, and unselfish.”
Oroho lauded Space for his service as past mayor of Wantage, member of the township’s land use board, and his role as chief of the Wantage Fire Department.
“Being a chief, you have to know your apparatus,” Oroho said. “Mr. Parker Space was chosen to lead his department.”
At the podium, where the four candidates shared their platforms, Space told the crowd his family has been in Sussex County since the 1700’s. In 1927, his family started Space Farms Zoo & Museum, which he owns and operates with his family.
“I can’t do and be who I am without my wife, Jill,” Space acknowledged.
The Spaces have recently celebrated 20 years of marriage.
“I know all the trials and tribulations, we work hard every day,” Space added.
He said he and Jill have been Republicans since they became old enough to vote, and are involved in with the State and County Republican Committees.
Space said his grandfather started the Wantage Fire Department, and he is a member of the board of directors of Sussex Rural Electric Cooperative.
After serving as mayor of Wantage from 2004 through 2009, he became a county freeholder in 2010. He has served as liaison on the finance and library services, sheriff, budget committee, child advocacy center, Sussex County Technical School, planning board, Sussex County Community College board of school estimate, Sussex County Technical School board of school estimate, and the New Jersey Association of counties.
Space also focused, during his speech, on his second amendment stance, as a lifetime member of the NRA, and about making responsible, common sense rules, for gun ownership. He also honed in on “watching out for our citizens,” in terms of the issue of illegal aliens.
Assemblyman Jon M. Bramnick (R-21) was also present at the event, to recognize Chiusano for his service.
“It was the most moving meeting in the State House,” said Bramnick of Chiusano’s departure, as he said Chiusano recognized and said goodbyes to all of the workers there.
“I look forward to going down with Alison and Steve, to carry on Gary’s hard work,” Space said.
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