Burgess wins special election for state Senate

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IRVINGTON, NJ — Renee Burgess, former president of the Irvington Town Council, has won a special election to remain a New Jersey state senator. This makes her the first state senator to hail from Irvington. She represents the 28th Legislative District, filling the seat vacated by longtime state Sen. Ronald L. Rice, who retired in August due to health concerns. 

In the Nov. 8 election, Burgess beat Republican Joy Bembry-Freeman for the open seat. Burgess will serve through the rest of Rice’s term, which expires in January 2024. 

County Clerk Christopher Durkin certified the election on Nov. 17; all Essex County results listed came from the clerk’s website on Nov. 17.

According to the clerk’s office, with all districts reporting, Burgess received 30,535 votes, or 77.58 percent, and Bembry-Freeman received 8,825 votes, or 22.42 percent.

In addition to serving on the town council, Burgess, 51, served on the Irvington Board of Education from 2003 to 2014. 

“It feels almost impossible to adequately express my gratitude to everyone who has given me this extraordinary honor to serve as senator for the 28th Legislative District, but here we go,” Burgess said in Senate chambers after being sworn into office in September. She thanked God, as well as elected officials and state leaders; she especially thanked her daughter for her support and her church family at Union Gospel Tabernacle in Newark. 

“I am feeling overwhelmingly excited this morning. Some would say, ‘Of course. You’ve just been sworn in as a senator.’ And yes, this is true. However, this moment is bigger than that,” Burgess said. “I have just been elevated to a level in my life where I have been granted the opportunity to do something I love and desire so passionately: helping others. No matter race, creed, color or background, it is my responsibility to everyone who has made it possible for me to be here to just simply listen to our people, feel and hear their hearts, because they are hurting, they are needing a helping hand so that they can enjoy the simple things in life, and that’s living their God-given purpose here on earth. 

“So, I understand my assignment and it will be executed accordingly,” she continued. “I look forward to working with everyone inside and outside this building to make New Jersey, the 28th District, a better place to live, work, worship and to just be happy by supporting laws that will efficiently and effectively help build our communities according to their needs.”

Photos Courtesy of Tony Vauss