(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 2017 is Tuesday, Nov. 7.)
SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Democrat Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr., a private practice attorney for over 40 years and a lifelong resident of South Plainfield, is seeking to retain his seat in the 18th L.D.
In May 2016, Diegnan, who previously served 14 years in the Assembly, was appointed to fill the Senate seat vacated by Peter Barnes; last November, Diegnan sought election the remaining year on Barnes’ term and is currently seeking elected to his own four-year term.
As a member of the Senate, Diegnan serves as vice chair of both the Law and Public Safety Committee and is also a member of both the Joint Commission on Public Schools, Budget and Appropriations, and the State Government, Wagering, Tourism & Historic Preservation Committee.
“It is particularly helpful to my constituents that I serve as a member of the Budget and Appropriations Committee. Virtually every department of government reports to that committee during budget time,” said Diegnan, adding, “It was because of that unique access that I was able to work with motor vehicles to replace the inspection station in South Plainfield.”
During his tenure in the legislature, 118 bill sponsored by Diegnan have been signed into law, including 20 that were passed during a single term under a Republican governor. Additionally, in his first year and half in the Senate, Diegnan has been the primary sponsor of nearly 116 bills, including key education bills.
Among them include a law to reform the state’s antiquated charter school law and one mandating that computer science instruction be offered to every high school student.
He was also the sponsor of a bill to establish a grant program for school districts to develop dual language immersion programs for students to compete in a computer driven and multilingual global economy. In the past year, Diegnan has also been the primary sponsor of three bills geared specifically toward student safety. They include designating a school safety specialist within in the Department of Education, including intramural sports in the state student athlete head injury safety program, and establishing an annual Concussion Awareness Day.
Although currently a member of the Senate’s Education Committee – during his years in the Assembly Diegnan chaired this committee – issues pertaining to education remain among top priorities for the senator. “Education continues to be my top priority. I look forward to working with our new governor to properly fund our public schools,” said Diegnan. “In addition, our vocational schools, which I believe should be named ‘career academies,’ and our county colleges are hidden jewels of our state.”
In 2016, Diegnan was named Legislator of the Year by both the Association of Schools and Agencies for the Handicapped and the New Jersey Biliteracy Association and was the recipient of the Education Law Center’s Morheuser Humanitarian Award. Additionally, earlier this year, he received the Champion in Trenton Award from the NJ Gasoline, C-Store, and Automotive Association.
As a member of the Senate, Diegnan said he feels he can play a larger role in improving the Garden State. “Although I enjoyed my time in the State Assembly, I find that I have a stronger voice in the Senate,” he said, adding, “The challenge is to forget about party labels and work with everyone to do what is best for New Jersey.”
Diegnan said he is ‘proud’ of his ‘record in the legislature’ and feels residents should return him to the Senate seat so he can continue serving the 18th L.D.
“Anything that I have accomplished is, to a large measure, based on my upbringing in my hometown of South Plainfield. If I am blessed to continue to serve in the Senate, I will always try to do what’s right for the people I am honored to represent,” Diegnan said.