The nomination of Louis Goetting of Point Pleasant to the New Jersey Turnpike Authority Board would mean long-overdue advocacy for the Jersey Shore, say state lawmakers who are pushing to turn shore representation into a requirement.

Flickr User Dougtone

Forked River-based Senator Chris Connors and Assembly members Brian Rumpf and DiAnne Gove (R-9) have carried a bipartisan measure for South Jersey representation on the Authority through several legislative sessions.

NJ Senator Chris Connors (R-9) (Facebook)

The Senate version has won full approval. The Assembly version is in the Transportation and Independent Authority Committee.

Connors and Cape May Democrat Jeff Van Drew (D-1) are the primary sponsors of the upper house bill, along with Burlington County Republican Diane Allen (R-7).

Rumpf and Gove co-sponsor the Assembly bill, which has primary sponsors in Cape May Democrats Bob Andrrzejczak and Bruce Land (D-1).

The Turnpike Authority governs and manages New Jersey's two toll roads, the Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway. The roads were managed by separate agencies that stemmed from the New Jersey Highway Authority, established in 1952, until they were merged during the administration of Governor James McGreevey in 2003.

Lack of a South Jersey voice on the Authority has long nettled municipal and county leaders throughout the region, claiming no input for decisions that  affected their jurisdictions.

Goetting served as Governor Chris Christie's deputy chief of staff, leaving the post in 2014 to return to the private sector, after having assisted the Governor's transition team in 2009 and taken an appointment as Christie's cabinet secretary the following year.

Sign for the Garden State Parkway (Lakewood Scoop)

He also served as Assistant State Treasurer and Deputy State Treasurer during Governor Christie Whitman's administration.

Connors, Rumpf and Gove issued a statement following disclosure of Goetting's nomination:

"While we would have preferred that a local area resident have been nominated years ago, certainly our Delegation is pleased with Mr. Goetting's nomination to the Turnpike Authority Board. That said, we are confident that Mr. Goetting understands our area's need for a strong voice and will act in the best interest of local commuters.

"Representation on the Turnpike Authority Board is an important issue to our constituency and, accordingly, to our Delegation, especially following the Corzine toll increases. Simply stated, our constituents are forced to pay more in tolls and, therefore, want a greater say in how this revenue is used on projects that impact their commutes, communities and businesses.

"Like any important issue, it's always an uphill battle with Trenton. Fair representation is all our constituency has asked for only to see this area of the state bypassed when it came to the Turnpike Authority Board.

"Though Mr. Goetting's nomination is a step in the right direction, our Delegation, nonetheless, will still be working to advance our legislation to require at least one member of the New Jersey Turnpike Authority is a South Jersey resident. Without question, it's better to have a statutory requirement than rely on the good graces of Trenton."

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