Democrats vote in new N.J. Assembly leader

 Assembly Speaker-elect Vinnie Prieto and Majority Leader Lou Greenwald discuss their priorities for the next legislative session. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

Assembly Speaker-elect Vinnie Prieto and Majority Leader Lou Greenwald discuss their priorities for the next legislative session. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

The Democratic majority in the New Jersey Assembly has officially selected a new speaker.

Assemblyman Vinnie Prieto, who chairs the budget committee, said he was honored and humbled to be chosen by the Democratic caucus to replace Speaker Sheila Oliver when the new legislative session begins Jan. 14.Prieto’s objectives for the Democrats include focusing on property taxes, job creation and making higher education more affordable.

“We’re going to continue with our Democratic values fighting for the working class, the middle class of the state of New Jersey, the working poor and the most vulnerable,” he said. “Their voices are normally not heard, and that’s something we’re going to focus on.”

Assemblyman Lou Greenwald, who will remain majority leader, said Democrats also plan to examine what he calls a broken tax structure in New Jersey and what can be done to lower property taxes.

“What we are advocating for is a responsible approach to look at what is working in 49 other states that all have lower property taxes than we do,” said Greenwald of Camden County. “And to take the best of those states and bring those solutions to New Jersey.”

Democrats and Republicans need to keep working together, said Prieto of Hudson County.

He said time will tell if he ends up having the same kind of frequent meetings with Gov. Chris Christie that Senate President Steve Sweeney has used to develop a working relationship on key issues.

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