Alixon Collazos-Gill

Montclair’s Alixon Collazos-Gill is remaining in the race for State Assembly. Her husband, Brendan Gill, will seek re-election as Essex County Commissioner.

“I stand before you humbled,” said Essex County Commission Brendan Gill. “And I stand here to tell you, that after a week of reflection and many conversations, especially those at home with Alixon, I will not be seeking nomination for state assembly. I ask you to please continue to support Alixon who has my undying support going forward, as well as Senator McKeon and the entire legislative 27th district.”

Gill announced the news Thursday night to a shocked audience in West Orange at a meeting of Essex County committee members and voting district leaders. Many believed Collazos-Gill, who had already won the primary, had decided to step down.

At the meeting, Livingston councilwoman Rosaura Bagolie was nominated for the other assembly seat, joining Collazos-Gill and John McKeon (D-West Orange) on the ticket. McKeon, an 11-term assemblyman, is replacing longtime Senator Richard J. Codey, who announced his retirement on Facebook on August 14, after a 50-year career, causing the most recent shakeup on the ticket.

Last week, Collazos-Gill, in a Montclair Democratic Commitee email, surprised supporters when she wrote: “As many of you may have heard, I have decided not to pursue the Assembly seat for LD 27.  The recent retirement of Governor Codey has given me an opportunity to reflect on my own future and I have decided to withdraw my name from the ballot.

Let me be clear, no one speaks for me other than me.  My decision is based on what I believe is in the best interest of our community and my family.”

An Ever-Changing Ticket

It wasn’t the first shakeup for this ticket. Back in March, when longtime Assemblyman Thomas Giblin said he would not seek a 10th term after 18 years in office, Collazos-Gill was tapped to step in and replace Giblin on the ticket with Codey and McKeon.

Alixon Collazos-Gill getting a congratulatory call from Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill at Just Jake’s in Montclair after her primary win in June.

Codey, McKeon and Collazos-Gill won their primary in June, with Codey defeating another incumbent, State Sen. Nia Gill (D-Montclair), by 20 percentage points. Redistricting had led to the race between Codey and Nia Gill; the new 27th District includes Montclair, Clifton, West Orange, Livingston, Millburn, and Roseland.

During Gov. Murphy’s first campaign, Collazos-Gill served as the director of the Latino Outreach Program where she helped design and execute the successful outreach program for the first time candidate. Under her leadership, the campaign established a series of Latino Policy Forums allowing for early input from the Latino community on the campaign’s policy agenda.

In 2015, Collazos-Gill was part of the second graduating class of Emerge New Jersey, a non-for-profit organization that trains Democratic women to run for public office. She also serves on the executive board of the New Jersey Hispanic Research and Information Center (NJHRIC) and Latinas United for Political Empowerment Fund (LUPE Fund).

Liz George is the publisher of Montclair Local.