Senate confirms 3 Murphy nominees to Port Authority board

Matthew Fazelpoor//February 28, 2023

Senate confirms 3 Murphy nominees to Port Authority board

Matthew Fazelpoor//February 28, 2023

The New Jersey State Senate unanimously confirmed three nominees to the Board of Commissioners of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, including two key aides to Gov. Phil Murphy.

The Feb. 27 confirmations include: George Helmy, chief of staff to Murphy; Joseph Kelley, deputy chief of staff for economic growth in the Governor’s Office; and Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage.

The confirmation process to the powerful post came together at a dizzying pace.

The trio were nominated about three weeks ago by Murphy. Their names were quickly added to the Senate Judiciary Committee agenda over the weekend. And following a unanimous vote by the committee earlier Monday, they were unanimously approved by the full Senate later in the day.

Murphy applauded the confirmations to the bi-state Board of Commissioners, which establishes the policies of the Port Authority and is responsible for adopting strategic plans, capital plans, and budgets of the agency.

“Building on our world-class transportation infrastructure is critical to our economic growth and resilience as we shape the future of our region,” said Murphy in a statement. “It is essential that these efforts are led by officials who will stand up for the interests of our state and our residents. These individuals have dedicated their professional lives to public service and bring decades of experience in urban policy, economic development, and large-scale infrastructure project.”

During the Monday hearing, all three committed their support for the continued leadership of Kevin O’Toole, who has served as chairman of the board of commissioners since 2017.

George Helmy, chief of staff to Gov. Phil Murphy

Helmy, a key Murphy ally, is the first Arab American to serve on the board. He said he is honored to serve and looks forward to the chance to build upon the progress already being made.

“New Jersey is the heartbeat of our region and our infrastructure is the lifeblood that keeps both our economy and people moving,” he said in a statement. “New Jersey is making transformative investments that will shape the future for generations.”

Joe Kelley, deputy chief of staff for economic growth, New Jersey Office of the Governor

Kelley, another key ally of the governor, oversees major economic policy initiatives, manages large economic development projects and works with Murphy on marketing the state to businesses around the world. He was also a point person on the COVID-19 economic recovery.

“Reliable transportation infrastructure and a high functioning transit network are key to a growing economy,” said Kelley in a statement. “Gov. Murphy’s commitment to this mission has enabled us to attract entirely new industries and expand others considerably. I’m extremely honored by the opportunity to build upon this progress and continue to serve the state I am proud to call home.”

Elizabeth Mayor Christian Bollwage

Bollwage has served as Elizabeth’s mayor for 30 years. He also serves as an adjunct professor at Kean University.

“I am honored to serve on the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Board of Commissioners and want to thank Gov. Murphy for the opportunity to shape the future of our transportation infrastructure,” said Bollwage in a statement. “I am proud to have dedicated my professional life to improving our state and the lives of those who reside here, and I look forward to advocating on their behalf in this role.”

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