Sussex County Commissioner Chris Carney does not plan to run for a state Assembly seat this year.
He has endorsed fellow Commissioner Dawn Fantasia, who last week said she is running with Chester Township Mayor Mike Inganamort.
Two seats in District 24 are open because Assemblymen Parker Space and Hal Wirths, both Republicans, are not seeking re-election.
Carney was elected director of the Board of County Commissioners at the annual reorganization meeting earlier this month. He was deputy director in 2022.
“I am honored to lead the commissioner board this year,” he said in a statement. “We have many critical issues that need attention and I look forward to working collaboratively with my board colleagues to address them for the betterment of our county.”
He cited the budget and tax stability; renegotiating contracts with the county union workers; and the disbursement of federal funding under the American Rescue Plan Act as the most pressing issues before the board.
“As these matters greatly impact county residents, they require my complete attention, especially as I step into the role of board director this year. As such, I will not be able to commit the time to simultaneously make a serious run for an open Assembly seat in Legislative District 24.”
He added, “I have been giving the thought of running for Assembly very serious consideration and I am sincerely grateful to those who expressed support, but I feel it is better and more influential to focus my attention on county business at this time.”
On Jan. 18, Fantasia and Inganamort said they intend to run as a Republican ticket.
“Northwest New Jersey faces unique challenges that the Murphy Administration consistently turns a blind eye to,” said Fantasia, a native of Ogdensburg who previously served on the Franklin Borough Council.
“The state’s largest long-term-care facility, its patients and its staff – located in Sussex County – were criminally neglected by this administration during the pandemic, leading to scores of tragic deaths. Our rural schools receive inequitable funding, crippling our ability to mitigate learning loss directly caused by Murphy’s Draconian lockdowns. The senseless delay in the implementation of the comprehensive black bear management policy led to severe property damage, loss of pets and livestock, and attacks on humans. And now the Murphy administration is flouting the Constitution to severely restrict our right to firearms to protect our homes and families.
“Assemblymen Space and Wirths have been courageous fighters for us. Mike and I are ready to carry the torch and protect who and what we love and our special way of life in Sussex, Morris and Warren counties.”
Inganamort, a native of Sparta, is in his sixth year on the Chester Township Council. He was a longtime aide to former Rep. Scott Garrett, R-5.
Fantasia and Inganamort also were endorsed by Sussex County Commissioner Jill Space.
Another candidate is Josh Aikens, president of the Lafayette Board of Education, who plans to kick off his campaign Thursday, Feb. 9 with a fundraiser at 7 p.m. in the Grand Rotunda at Crystal Springs in Hardyston.
Fantasia has a fundraiser planned at noon Saturday, Feb. 11 at the Branchville Fire Department.
After redistricting last year, the 24th District includes all of Sussex County; the Morris County towns of Chester Borough, Chester Township, Mount Olive, Netcong, Roxbury and Washington Township; and the Warren County towns of Allamuchy and Independence.
“Assemblymen Space and Wirths have been courageous fighters for us. Mike and I are ready to carry the torch and protect who and what we love and our special way of life in Sussex, Morris and Warren counties.” - Sussex County Commissioner Dawn Fantasia