Nia Gill

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Nia H. Gill
Nia Gill 2008.jpg
Gill in 2008
Member of the New Jersey Senate from the 34th Legislative District
Assumed office
January 8, 2002
Preceded by Norman M. Robertson
President Pro Tempore of the New Jersey Senate
Assumed office
January 12, 2010
Preceded by Shirley Turner
Member of the New Jersey General Assembly from the 27th Legislative District
In office
January 11, 1994 – January 8, 2002
Preceded by Robert L. Brown
Stephanie R. Bush
Succeeded by Mims Hackett
John F. McKeon
Personal details
Born (1948-03-15) March 15, 1948 (age 74)
Glen Ridge, New Jersey
Political party Democratic
Residence Montclair, New Jersey
Alma mater B.A. Upsala College (History/Political History)
J.D. Rutgers University
Occupation Attorney
Website Legislative web page

Nia H. Gill (born March 15, 1948; Glen Ridge, New Jersey) is an American Democratic Party politician, who has been serving in the New Jersey State Senate since 2002, where she represents the 34th Legislative District. She ran unsuccessfully as a candidate in the June 2012 primary election to fill the seat in Congress left vacant by the death of Donald M. Payne, the former U.S. Representative for New Jersey's 10th congressional district.


Gill received a B.A. in History/Political History from Upsala College and was awarded a J.D. from the Rutgers University School of Law.[1] Before her legislative career, she served as a law clerk for Essex County Superior Court Judge Harry Hazelwood, Jr. and as a public defender in Essex and Passaic counties.[2] She is an attorney with the firm of Gill & Cohen, P.C. together with former Assembly member Neil M. Cohen of the 20th Legislative District.[3]

Before her service as State Senator, Gill served in the lower house of the New Jersey Legislature, the General Assembly, from 1994 to 2001, where she was Minority Whip from 1996 to 2001.[3] She also served in the Assembly on the Speaker's Education Funding Task Force and on several committees including, the Assembly Democratic Senior Citizen Task Force (as Co-chair) and the Assembly Advisory Committee on the Arts, History and Humanities.

Gill became a candidate for State Senate in District 34 after some of the municipalities she had represented in the Assembly were shifted into the district. Most of the communities added to District 34, which at the time was a Republican stronghold and had been for nearly two decades prior, were heavily Democratic and contributed to Gill's landslide victory over first-time incumbent Norman M. Robertson.[4] In the 2003 primaries, LeRoy J. Jones, Jr. was given the party line opposing Gill. Despite being outspent by Jones in the heavily Democratic district, Gill won with 55% of the vote.[5] Senator Gill has been re-elected twice, winning elections in 2003 and 2007. Gill, along with the other 39 state senators, was required to run for her seat after two years due to the election cycle set forth in the New Jersey Constitution requiring a two-year Senate term after decennial redistricting.

Gill serves in the Senate on the Commerce Committee (as Chair), the Legislative Oversight Committee (as Vice-Chair), the Legislative Services Commission and the Judiciary Committee.[3] She has served as the Senate President Pro-Tempore since January 12, 2010.

Gill is a sponsor of the measure recently signed into law to criminalize the deprivation of civil rights by public officials, making racial profiling a state crime. She has also sponsored the New Jersey Civil Rights Act, which would give individuals a remedy whenever one person deprives another person of any rights, privileges or immunities or interferes with another's civil rights. Additionally, she sponsored a resolution to formally rescind an 1868 effort by the New Jersey Legislature to withdraw New Jersey's support for the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and its due process and equal protection provisions.

Gill sponsored legislation that provides a $3,000 income tax deduction for certain families providing home care for an elderly relative, legislation that abolishes the death penalty in New Jersey, and has also sponsored legislation allowing PAAD recipients freedom of choice in selecting a pharmacy and prohibits the imposition of a mail order system. The Senator also sponsored legislation that establishes a central registry of domestic violence orders for use in evaluating firearm permit applications, sponsored legislation to upgrade crimes of the third degree. In addition, Senator Gill is the first African American and the first woman in the history of New Jersey named to serve on the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee.

Gill is generally recognized as being one of the leading abortion rights advocates in New Jersey politics. One significant example is her opposition to the override of then-Governor Christie Whitman's veto of the New Jersey Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 1997 in the New Jersey Assembly.

Senatorial courtesy

On June 4, 2007, Governor Corzine announced and filed his intent to nominate Stuart Rabner to be the next Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court, replacing James R. Zazzali, who was nearing mandatory retirement age.[6] Prior to the formal nomination, two members of the New Jersey Senate from Essex County, where Rabner resides, were said to be blocking consideration of his confirmation by invoking "senatorial courtesy", a Senate tradition that allows home county legislators to intercede to prevent consideration of a local nominee. On June 14, 2007, Governor Corzine officially nominated Rabner for the post. State Senator Ronald Rice withdrew his objections to Rabner's nomination on June 15, 2007, after a meeting with the governor.[7] Fellow Senator Gill dropped her efforts to block Rabner's confirmation on June 19, 2007, after meeting with Rabner. While she did not respond to initial media requests to explain the nature of her concerns, anonymous lawmakers cited in The New York Times indicated that the objection was due to Rabner's lack of bench experience and Governor Corzine's failure to consider a minority candidate for the post.[8]

At the conclusion of confirmation hearings, the Senate voted on June 21, 2007, to confirm Rabner as Chief Justice by a 36-1 margin, with Gill casting the lone dissenting vote, citing Rabner's lack of judicial experience and the fact that he had never argued a case in New Jersey's courts. Anne Milgram was confirmed by a 37-1 Senate vote to succeed Rabner as Attorney General.[9]

District 34

Each of the forty districts in the New Jersey Legislature has one representative in the New Jersey Senate and two members in the New Jersey General Assembly. The other representatives from the 34th district for the 2014-2015 Legislative Session are:[10]

Other offices sought

New Jersey Governor-elect Jon Corzine said on November 11, 2005, that he would consider appointing Gill to fill his vacant seat in the United States Senate following his resignation to become Governor of New Jersey.[11] He later chose Bob Menendez to fill the seat.

Gill was a candidate in the June 5, 2012, primary election to fill the seat in Congress left vacant by the death of Donald M. Payne, the former U.S. Representative for New Jersey's 10th congressional district. Also competing for that nomination were Dennis R. Flynn of Glen Ridge, Newark Councilmen Donald Payne Jr. (son of the congressman), Ronald C. Rice (son of State Senator Ronald Rice), Irvington Mayor Wayne Smith, and Cathy Wright of Newark.[12][13] Payne won in a landslide, garnering 60% of the vote. Rice received 19%, Gill came in third with 17% and the other three candidates split the remaining 5% of the vote.[14][15]

Election history

New Jersey State Senate elections, 2013[16]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Nia H. Gill (incumbent) 27,132 73.1
Republican Joseph S. Cupoli 9,972 26.9
Democratic hold
New Jersey State Senate elections, 2011[17]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Nia H. Gill (incumbent) 17,118 79.6
Republican Ralph Bartnik 4,386 20.4
Democratic hold
New Jersey State Senate elections, 2007[18]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Nia H. Gill (incumbent) 17,178 100.0
Democratic hold


  1. Senator Nia H. Gill, Project Vote Smart. Accessed December 13, 2007.
  2. Manual of the Legislature of New Jersey - Two Hundred and Eleventh Legislature (First Session) (PDF). Skinder-Strauss Associates. 2004. p. 241. Retrieved July 4, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Assemblywoman Gill's legislative web page, New Jersey Legislature. Accessed April 7, 2008.
  4. Gohlke, Josh; and Hughes, Jennifer V. "District 34", The Record (Bergen County), November 7, 2001. Accessed July 9, 2008. "Four-term Assemblywoman Nia Gill, D-Montclair, was well ahead of freshman Sen. Norman Robertson, R-Clifton, in the race for the district's Senate seat. With most districts reporting, Gill was overwhelming Robertson with more than 80 percent of the vote. "
  5. Fitzgerald, Barbara. "Reflections on a Glass Ceiling", The New York Times, August 10, 2003. Accessed June 7, 2010.
  6. "Source: Corzine picks Rabner as chief justice, Milgram as AG", Courier News, May 31, 2007. Accessed May 31, 2007.
  7. Associated Press. "Opposition Ebbs on Corzine Judge", The New York Times, June 15, 2007. Accessed June 20, 2007. "Ronald L. Rice, an Essex County Democrat and state senator, said yesterday that he would no longer block Gov. Jon S. Corzine’s nomination for chief justice of the State Supreme Court."
  8. Jones, Richard G. "Senator Drops Objections to Corzine Court Nominee", The New York Times, June 20, 2007. Accessed June 20, 2007. "Senator Gill had delayed Mr. Rabner’s confirmation hearing by using “senatorial courtesy” — an obscure practice through which senators who represent the home county of nominees may block consideration of their confirmations."
  9. Jones, Richard G. "After One Objection, Senate Confirms Corzine’s Choice for Chief Justice", The New York Times, June 22, 2007. Accessed June 22, 2007. "The Senate voted 36 to 1 to confirm Stuart Rabner, who has been attorney general since September 2006 and was Mr. Corzine’s chief counsel before that. It also confirmed Anne Milgram, Mr. Rabner’s first assistant, to succeed Mr. Rabner as attorney general.... A short time later, she was the only one of 40 senators to vote against Mr. Rabner."
  10. "Legislative Roster 2014-2015 Session". New Jersey Legislature. Retrieved July 4, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Corzine Leaning Toward Black Woman to Take N.J. Seat in Senate", Fox News Channel, December 1, 2005. Accessed May 16, 2007. "Shortly after being elected New Jersey's governor, Democrat Jon Corzine speculated aloud that he might appoint a woman to fill out his unexpired Senate term. Then he singled out black state Sen. Nia Gill, calling her an 'extraordinarily capable woman.'"
  12. Moss, Linda; and Porter, Mark S. "Nia Gill to run for Payne's Congressional seat ", The Montclair Times, March 20, 2012. Accessed April 8, 2012. "Gill, a Montclair resident, is one of three candidates who now have publicly declared that they will seek to fill Payne's vacant Congressional seat. In addition to Gill, Ronald Rice, a Newark Councilman, and Payne's son, Newark Councilman Donald Payne Jr., had also announced they are running for the 10th District seat."
  13. Candidates for Special House Election For PRIMARY ELECTION 06/05/2012 Election, New Jersey Department of State, April 12, 2012. Accessed June 25, 2012.
  14. Giambusso, David. "Donald Payne Jr. wins Democratic nomination for House seat in N.J.'s 10th District", The Star-Ledger, June 5, 2012. Accessed June 25, 2012. "With nearly all of the ballots counted last night, Payne received 60 percent of the vote. His nearest challenger, Rice, received 19 percent while Gill received 17 percent. The other candidates, Irvington Mayor Wayne Smith, Cathy Wright and Dennis Flynn, combined for about 5 percent of the vote."
  15. Unofficial List Candidates for House of Representatives For PRIMARY ELECTION 06/05/2012 Election, New Jersey Department of State, June 6, 2012. Accessed June 25, 2012.
  16. "Official List Candidates for State Senate For GENERAL ELECTION 11/05/2015 Election" (PDF). Secretary of State of New Jersey. December 4, 2013. Retrieved July 4, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. Official List Candidate Returns for State Senate For November 2011 General Election, p. 34, New Jersey Department of State, December 14, 2011. Accessed April 8, 2012.
  18. Official List Candidate Returns for State Senate For November 2007 General Election, p. 34, New Jersey Department of State, December 3, 2007. Accessed April 8, 2012.

External links

New Jersey Senate
Preceded by
Norman M. Robertson
New Jersey State Senator
34th Legislative District

January 8, 2002 — present
Succeeded by
New Jersey General Assembly
Preceded by
Robert L. Brown
Stephanie L. Bush
27th Legislative District

January 11, 1994 – January 8, 2002
With: LeRoy J. Jones, Jr.
Succeeded by
Mims Hackett
John F. McKeon