Gov. Phil Murphy announced Sept. 19 that his longtime Chief of Staff George Helmy would depart at the end of this month.
In a statement, Murphy said he does not know where his administration would be without Helmy, who has served in the key role since 2019.
Prior to serving as chief of staff, Helmy was a key aide to both U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and his predecessor, the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J. He also worked in the private sector with two Fortune 100 companies.
“Simply put, you cannot write the history of our administration without recognizing George’s singular role in leading our team for over four and a half years,” said Murphy. “His unique mix of public and private sector experience, strong management skills, and deep relationships across the political spectrum made him uniquely capable to excel in this job. From managing our all-of-government response to a once-in-a-century pandemic to driving nearly every single one of our legislative goals to completion, George has put his heart and soul into serving the people of New Jersey.”
Helmy said that it has been the honor of his life to serve the governor and his administration.
“When I started this job in early 2019, I had no idea what to expect,” said Helmy in a statement. “From dealing with a global pandemic to negotiating six on-time state budgets, I’ve approached every challenge with gratitude for the trust and confidence that the governor and first lady have placed in me. I tried to approach every issue we faced by upholding the high moral and ethical standards the governor set for us and by leading with the same compassion and empathy the Murphys brought to governing every day.”
Praise and thanks for Helmy’s work and service flew in around the Garden State from lawmakers, business leaders and others.
Senate President Nick Scutari, D-22nd District, said that his departure is a real loss for the state.
“He served with distinction in a role that was pivotal in the effective management of government during challenging times,” said Scutari. “George was a trusted advisor for Gov. Murphy and strong advocate for the administration’s agenda. He was instrumental in cultivating a productive working relationship with the Legislature that led to countless accomplishments, I enjoyed working with George and wish him all the best in his future.”
“George is a well-respected and kind-hearted individual who bridged relationships with many members of the Legislature during his tenure,” said Senate Republican Leader Anthony Bucco, R-25th District. “From a legislative perspective, George had a unique ability to work across the aisle and manage diverse relationships. I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know George during his time as the governor’s Chief of Staff and I wish him the best in all of his future endeavors. I’m confident that his tenacity and positive work ethic will bring him success wherever he goes.”
Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-19th District, described Helmy as a trusted partner who worked closely with legislative leadership.
“George provided valuable insight as the Murphy Administration and Legislature worked together on shared goals,” said Coughlin. “His expertise was essential to so many victories for the people of New Jersey. George exemplified the best in leadership in state government and I will miss him both personally and professionally.”
New Jersey Chamber of Commerce President Tom Bracken said that when it comes to chiefs of staff, George Helmy is the GOAT (greatest of all time).
“In my 50-plus-year career, during which I have interacted with many governors and their chiefs of staffs, George Helmy has been truly exceptional,” said Bracken in a statement. “He is responsive, professional, objective, respectful – and has been a true asset to Gov. Murphy and the state. We have not agreed on all issues, but there has been a mutual respect between us in dealing with our differences. I will miss my conversations with George – and I wish him the best of luck as he enters a new chapter. I hope our professional paths cross again.”
Michele Siekerka, New Jersey Business & Industry Association (NJBIA) president and CEO, said that her organization will miss Helmy’s professionalism and engagement.
“He has had an open door and open ear to the business community. Though we may have not always agreed on the end game, George always engaged the business community in discussions and took time to understand the issues affecting our employers,” said Siekerka. “He also played a big role in the sunset of the corporate business tax (CBT) surtax, which makes New Jersey more competitive. George prides himself on the fact that his family came from the business community, and that he understood the value of boots on the ground. That was a great value to us, as well. We wish George all the best in his endeavors, and we thank him for his service to New Jersey.”
The governor plans to name a new chief of staff later this year, noting that Helmy will continue to play a key role as a point person for the administration’s key relationships with national and state level political leaders.
“I wish him well in his next chapter, and I look forward to continuing to rely on his wise counsel as not only a trusted colleague, but more importantly, a close friend,” Murphy added.
“I look forward to continuing to support the governor and first lady during the remainder of the second term and beyond,” said Helmy.