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Daily Record - Alex DeCroce, Assembly Minority Leader, dies at Statehouse
Daily Record - Alex DeCroce, Assembly Minority Leader, dies at Statehouse

Star Ledger - N.J. Assemblyman Alex DeCroce collapses, dies in Statehouse after long legislative session...N.J. Assemblyman's death prompts Gov. Christie to postpone his State of the State address

GSCS greatly regrets the passing of Assembly Minority Leader Alex DeCroce who cared so strongly for the well-being of the people of New Jersey and who tirelessly devoted so many years of his life to public service.

 Daily Record - Alex DeCroce, Assembly minority leader, dies at Statehouse

·         1:52 AM, Jan. 10, 2012      

·         Michael Symons

·         TRENTON – Alex DeCroce, the longest-serving member currently in the state Assembly, collapsed and died at the Statehouse late Monday night, at the end of the final meeting of the legislative session.

·         DeCroce, 75, the leader of the Republican minority in the Legislature’s lower house, reportedly collapsed in a hallway between the Assembly chamber and his caucus’ offices at nearly 11:30 p.m. Efforts to revive him by first responders, assisted by Assemblyman Herb Conaway, a doctor, were unsuccessful.

·         Stunned lawmakers and staffers stood mostly silent and milled around the vestibule and stairs by the Democratic and Republican caucuses’ offices absorbing the news. A short time after midnight, Gov. Chris Christie arrived, hugged Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, and the group walked into the Senate Democrats’ office. About a half-hour later, Christie headed to his office.

·         “Tonight I lost a dear friend, colleague and mentor -– Assembly Republican Leader Alex De Croce,” Christie said in a prepared statement released at 1:30 a.m.

·         “I have known Alex for nearly 20 years,” the governor said. “He helped to give me my start in elective politics in Morris County in 1993. He was one of the most kind, considerate and trustworthy people I have ever had the pleasure to know. He was an enormously accomplished legislator and a tremendous servant to the people of New Jersey.

·         “Mary Pat and I offer our heartfelt condolences to his wife, Department of Community Affairs Deputy Commissioner Betty Lou De Croce, and to Alex’s entire family,” Christie said. “This is an enormous loss for our state and for me personally.”

·         Lawmakers will take the oath of office to begin the new term today at noon, which is required by the New Jersey Constitution, but there will not be a formal ceremony.

·         The Assembly had expected thousands of guests at its ceremony at the Trenton War Memorial, and the Senate was planning to move its ceremony to the larger Assembly chamber. Instead each house will hold a small, informal swearing-in in their regular chambers.

·       “No speeches, no pomp and circumstance, beyond maybe bagpipes and some prayers,” said Tom Hester Jr., the Assembly Democrats’ spokesman. “… Nothing at the War Memorial. People who were invited to the War Memorial should not go there tomorrow.”

·         Christie is expected to make brief remarks to the Legislature in the Assembly chamber at 1 p.m. but not deliver the scheduled State of the State address.

·         The New Jersey Constitution requires the governor to “communicate to the Legislature, by message at the opening of each regular session … the condition of the State.” Conceivably, Christie could deliver a message on paper to meet the requirement.

·         DeCroce, of Parsippany-Troy Hills, was appointed to fill a vacancy in the Assembly in January 1989, then won election to the seat 11 times. He has been minority leader since 2003 and was scheduled to be sworn in for another term in that position at reorganization ceremonies today.

·         Before becoming the Republicans’ leader in the Assembly, DeCroce has made his mark on the transportation committee as its chairman when the GOP controlled the Legislature in the 1990s. He sponsored laws that renewed the state’s Transportation Trust Fund and dedicated gasoline taxes for construction projects.

·         DeCroce was a Morris County freeholder from 1984 to 1989. He is president of Gallo-DeCroce Inc., a Parsippany real estate firm he founded with Dean Gallo, a former congressman who had also served as the state Assembly’s minority leader. He is a graduate of Boonton High School and attended Seton Hall University.

·         The assemblyman’s wife, Betty Lou, has been employed by Gov. Chris Christie’s administration since 2010 as deputy commissioner of the state Department of Community Affairs. She is a former municipal clerk in Roxbury Township.

 

Star Ledger - N.J. Assemblyman Alex DeCroce collapses, dies in Statehouse after long legislative session

Published: Tuesday, January 10, 2012, 1:09 AM Updated: Tuesday, January 10, 2012, 2:24 AM

By Statehouse Bureau StaffThe Star-Ledger

 

TRENTON — Longtime Assemblyman Alex DeCroce, the leading Republican of the state’s lower house who represented Morris County for 23 years, collapsed and died in a bathroom inside the Statehouse late Monday night, just moments after the 214th Legislature held its final voting session.

DeCroce, 75, of Parsippany, began serving the 26th Legislative District in the Assembly in 1989 and was the Republican minority leader since 2003.

In a statement released early this morning, Gov. Chris Christie expressed sadness over the loss of "a dear friend, colleague and mentor" whom he has known for nearly 20 years and who helped give him his start in politics.

"He was one of the most kind, considerate and trustworthy people I have ever had the pleasure to know," Christie said. "He was an enormously accomplished legislator and a tremendous servant to the people of New Jersey."

He added: "This is an enormous loss for our state and for me personally."

ALEX DeCROCE BIOGRAPHY

Born: June 10, 1936
Hometown: Parsippany
Education: Seton Hall University
Occupation: Realtor, ERA Gallo & DeCroce
Political career: State Assembly 1989-2012, representing the 26th District in Morris County; Assembly Republican Leader, 2003-2012; Deputy Speaker of Assembly, 1994-2001; Republican Conference Leader, 2002-2003

Source: New Jersey Legislature

State Police Lt. Stephen Jones said a legislator died shortly before 11:30 p.m. in a first-floor restroom of the Statehouse. He said a physician on hand attended to the legislator but that he was found to be dead. Lawmakers said Assemblyman Herb Conaway (D-Burlington), the Legislature’s only doctor, was the one who attended to DeCroce.

An emotional Christie — wearing a suit jacket over a Notre Dame T-shirt, no socks and loafers — showed up at the Statehouse at midnight with four staffers. He hugged Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-Essex), Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) and Sen. Steven Oroho (R-Essex) outside party offices and then held a meeting.

Legislative sources early this morning said Christie will not deliver his anticipated State of the State address, which had been scheduled for 3 p.m. today. Instead, they said, the governor expects to meet his constitutional requirement to address the Legislature with a brief talk that may eulogize DeCroce.

Spokesmen for Senate and Assembly Democrats said the state will hold an informal swearing-in for new lawmakers and a reorganization of party leadership at noon at the Statehouse. The swearing-in ceremony was supposed to attract hundreds of family and friends, but now lawmakers are urging them to stay home.

The spokesmen said they would have delayed the events, but they are required to hold them under the state Constitution.

Word of DeCroce’s death began circulating among lawmakers through calls and text messages about 11:30 p.m., almost immediately after the Senate wrapped up its marathon lame-duck session. Assemblyman Jon Bramnick (R-Union), the highest ranking Republican under DeCroce, was seen in a Statehouse hallway crying.

Michael Drewniak, a spokesman for Christie, said he was at a loss for words.

"What a shocking loss," Drewniak said. "He was the state’s finest elder statesman."

Staffers lined the staircases outside the party offices and exchanged hugs in stunned silence. Sen. Kevin O’Toole (R-Essex) said DeCroce was "the most unselfish leader."

"I’m absolutely heartbroken by this," O’Toole said. "The state will miss this guy for a long time. Everybody loved him. Wherever you went, anyone who interacted with Alex absolutely loved him."

DeCroce was born in Morristown in 1936 and graduated from Boonton High School before attending Seton Hall. DeCroce was selected to fill a vacancy and sworn in to his Assembly seat 1989. He was elected to his first full term in November of that year.

DeCroce attended Seton Hall University and worked as a realtor for ERA Gallo & DeCroce, his legislative biography said. Among the committees he was recently serving on were the Bipartisan Leadership Committee, where he served as the co-chairman, and the Legislative Services Commission.

DeCroce was a Morris County freeholder from 1984 to 1989 and served on both the Morris County Tax Board and Board of Elections, according to his legislative biography. He was also the chairman of the County College of Morris Board of Trustees.

Among his achievements, DeCroce sponsored a law that renewed the state Transportation Trust Fund, dedicated motor fuels tax for transportation projects, and amended the state Constitution to protect and strengthen the rights of crime victims, his biography said.

Oliver and Assemblyman Louis Greenwald (D-Camden) said in a joint statement that they were "saddened beyond words."

"He was always someone ready with a handshake and a laugh, no matter the circumstance, and his devotion to the people of New Jersey was unwavering," they said.

By Christopher Baxter and Jarrett Renshaw/Statehouse Bureau

 

Star Ledger - N.J. Assemblyman's death prompts Gov. Christie to postpone his State of the State address

Published: Tuesday, January 10, 2012, 2:50 AM Updated: Tuesday, January 10, 2012, 2:56 AM

By Jarrett Renshaw/Statehouse BureauThe Star-Ledger

Chris Christie is postponing his State of the State address, which had been scheduled for 3 p.m. today.

TRENTON — Gov. Chris Christie will postpone his annual State of the State address today but will still pay a visit to the Legislature to eulogize his close friend, Assemblyman Alex DeCroce, who died suddenly Monday night.

DeCroce, a longtime Assemblyman and leading Republican of the state's lower house, collapsed and died in a bathroom inside the Statehouse late Monday night, just moments after the 214th Legislature held its final voting session.

A teary-eyed Christie made a visit to the legislative offices shortly after DeCroce died, hugging lawmakers before discussing the revised schedule.

Christie was expected to tout his achievements and lay out his agenda for 2012 in the State of the State address, but he postponed within hours of DeCroce's death.

The governor is required by the state’s Constitution to address both houses of the Legislature on the opening day of each regular session, which is today. The speech was scheduled for 3 p.m., but now the eulogy is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m., according to Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak.

The last time a State of the State address was postponed was in 1996, when then Gov. Christie Whitman delayed her speech for two days because of a blizzard.

It's unclear when Christie will deliver the address.

Democrats in the Senate and the Assembly will also scale back their speeches surrounding their swearing-in ceremonies and party reorganizations. They are also urging lawmakers to tell their family and friends to remain at home.

Hundreds of family and friends were expected to descend on Trenton for the events, some renting buses, officials said.

 


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