(Editor’s Note: New Jersey is comprised of 40 Legislative Districts; the 18 Legislative District includes over 130,000 registered voters in the Middlesex County communities of East Brunswick, Edison, Helmetta, Highland Park, Metuchen, South River and South Plainfield. Election Day 2015 is Tuesday, Nov. 8.)
SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Democrat Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr., a lifelong resident of South Plainfield, is running to fill the one-year term remaining on the 18th L.D. Senate seat he was appointed to last May. If elected, he will have to run again in November 2017 for his own, four-year term.
Diegnan is a private practice attorney for over 40 years, was serving the beginning of his eighth consecutive term in the Assembly when he was appointed to the Senate seat vacated by Peter Barnes six months ago. As a member of the Senate, Diegnan sits on the Budget and Appropriations and the State Government, Wagering, Tourism & Historic Preservation committees and is also vice chair of both the Law and Public Safety and Joint Commission on Public Schools.
“Since there are only half as many members of the Senate, I find that legislative debate and movement of bills takes place more efficiently,” Diegnan said. “As a member of the State Senate, I feel I have the opportunity to be a more effective advocate for my constituents.”
Over the past five months, Diegnan has been the primary sponsor of nearly two-dozen Senate bills. Among them are bills to: increase the STARS program to give greater financial support to our top performing high school students; expand the veterans preference for civil service positions to all those who have served our country in the military; and provide state funding for necessary improvements to schools to protect children from armed threats. Most recently, Diegnan also worked to form a task force to look into the lack of medical coverage options for those who suffer from hearing loss.
“You’d be amazed of all the costs not covered. I am making it a priority to once and for all address why things such as initial exams, follow ups and hearing aids are not covered,” said Diegnan. “Is it that those who suffer from hearing lost haven’t had a good advocate in the past? The first thing I want to figure out why and then, obviously, address it.”
During his tenure on the Assembly, Diegnan served as Parliamentarian of the General Assembly for 10 years and as Deputy Speaker from 2008 to 2015 as well as vice chair of Consumer Affair, a member of Regulated Professions, and chair of the Education Committee. Although he does not currently sit on the Senate’s education committee (through the appointment he assumed Barnes’ committees), many of the bills Diegnan sponsored in the Assembly prior to leaving – several pertaining to education – have just made their way to the Senate, offering him a second chance to vote.
“We still need to address the issues with charter schools and find a way to bring people together, and we have to deal with this craziness with PARCC. It’s just so divisive and needs to be figured out,” he said.
Diegnan said he always had an interest in politics so running for public office for the first time 15 years ago just seemed like the right thing to do. “My dad was an Irish immigrant and he always told us that to be part of the solution you have to get involved and he always encouraged all of us,” Diegnan told TAPinto South Plainfield last year.
Throughout his political career, Diegnan said he has always followed one simple rule – ‘work to improve the lives of all of the residents of this great state.’ He feels residents of the 18th L.D. should return him to the Senate seat based on his reputation, years of experience and track record.
“Putting humility aside, I think people should look at my record over the past 15 years,” he said. “I do not want to stand on my record; I want people to really look actually look at my record. I have always strived to do what is right and I am not going to change that now.”
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