Top N.J. education official’s move may end stalemate over confirmation

After serving in an acting capacity for more than a year, Chris Cerf may soon get the official title of New Jersey Education Commissioner.

Sen. Ron Rice, D-Essex, has been using a procedure known as senatorial courtesy to block Cerf’s nomination. Now that Cerf has moved from Montclair to Montgomery Township in Somerset County, Sen. Kip Bateman, R-Somerset, expects he’ll be confirmed.

“He’s done a good job as acting commissioner, and I know that he want to implement some of the governor’s programs,” Bateman said Thursday. “They obviously can’t block him anymore because I’ve already signed off on it. So now the next step is to get him up on the Senate Judiciary Committee agenda as soon as possible.”

Bateman said Cerf moved to be closer to state offices in Trenton, not because of the battle with Rice.

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Sen. Dick Codey, D-Essex, however, anticipates questions at Cerf’s confirmation hearing.

“I think everybody has got to look at this once, twice, three times over. I mean I’ve seen other instances where people tried to escape senatorial courtesy doing this and they were rebuffed,” Codey said. “So it’s going to be an interesting hearing.”

Codey also said he doubts the end of the senatorial courtesy fight over Cerf will resolve a dispute with Gov. Chris Christie who has been refusing to nominate judges to fill vacant positions in the Essex County courts.

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