Cortes is first Latina to serve as Middlesex County Surrogate and first Latina constitutional officer in Middlesex County history
MIDDLESEX COUNTY, NJ – Following confirmation and swearing in by the New Jersey State Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday, Claribel Cortes was sworn in today by Middlesex County Clerk Nancy J. Pinkin to serve as Middlesex County Surrogate. With her confirmation and swearing in, Surrogate Cortes becomes not only the first Latina to serve as Middlesex County Surrogate, but the first Latina constitutional officer in Middlesex County history.
In her new position, Surrogate Cortes will touch the lives of nearly all Middlesex County residents. The County Surrogate acts as the judge of the Middlesex County Surrogate’s Court, which is responsible for probating wills; processing adoptions, contested probate matters, and alleged incompetents; filming and recording all probate proceedings; investing minors’ funds; appointing guardians of minors; and handling the administration of estates without wills.
“Today is an important day not only for Claribel Cortes, but is a historic one for Middlesex County,” said Middlesex County Commissioner Director Ronald G. Rios. “We are honored to have her take on the role of County Surrogate, a position which will see her directly impact the lives of countless Middlesex County residents. On behalf of the Board of County Commissioners, I offer my sincere congratulations and a warm welcome to Surrogate Cortes. I look forward to working together on behalf of the people of Middlesex County.”
Surrogate Cortes joins the County with a long record of public service. She currently serves as a member of the North Brunswick Township Council, where she is the communications' liaison. Since 2017, she has been a vice-chair and board member of the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey, which represents more than 119,000 Hispanic-owned businesses throughout the State of New Jersey. From 2017 to 2020, Surrogate Cortes was a member of the North Brunswick Township School Board, where she chaired the Board’s Community Relations Committee. She is also a past member of the Board of Trustees for Middlesex College.
In addition to her time as a public servant, Surrogate Cortes is a media executive with nearly three decades of experience working for such companies as Fox News, ABC News, and, most recently, the Associated Press. As director of digital media for the Associated Press, she managed a global news division, securing partnerships with Warner Brothers, Sony, and Disney.
Since 2017, Surrogate Cortes has served as the co-founder and president of The Setroc Group, a New Brunswick-based, minority- and veteran-owned business that assists mid- to large-size firms and government agencies in expanding their media footprint in the Hispanic market via digital and broadcast media.
Surrogate Cortes takes over the position of County Surrogate left vacant by former Surrogate Kevin J. Hoagland, who retired in December after 28 years of service. The Office of the County Surrogate will be on the ballot in the November 2021 General Election.