(TRENTON) – Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey were sworn in as the newest members of the 11th Legislative District in the New Jersey General Assembly on Tuesday.
Houghtaling and Downey took their oaths of office during the Assembly’s reorganization meeting at the War Memorial, giving District 11 its first Democratic legislators in more than two decades.
“This election made it clear that Monmouth County residents were looking for something different. I am thankful to the voters who put their trust in us,” said Houghtaling. “I have been privileged to serve the residents of Neptune as mayor and currently as a member of the township committee, and look forward to working with Joanne and the rest of my colleagues in the Assembly to tackle the issues affecting middle-class working families in Monmouth County and the state.”
“I am thrilled that our message resonated with the voters of Monmouth County and that we get to put into practice our vision for the region and the state,” said Downey. “I am eager to start working with Eric and my colleagues in the Assembly to make New Jersey more affordable for middle-class families, preserve and protect our open spaces and bodies of water, and ensure the future viability of our roads and transportation network to grow our economy and create new jobs.”
Downey, who is an attorney in private practice, said she decided to run because she wants to help create a Monmouth County her young daughters will proudly call home one day.
The daughter of a New Jersey State Trooper, Downey is a former Deputy State Attorney General who prosecuted cases of child abuse and neglect. Downey, who lives in Freehold with her family, received her undergraduate degree from Rutgers University and her law degree from New York Law School. She also holds a Masters’ degree in social work from Boston University.
A career electrician and lifelong resident of Neptune Township, Houghtaling gained his middle-class values from his parents — his father a mechanic, his mother a local school cafeteria worker — who stressed the importance of hard work and family. Houghtaling served as mayor of Neptune Township and currently sits on the township committee, where he has been at the forefront of efforts to control local property taxes while improving the quality of life for residents.
Houghtaling said he wants to work so that middle-class families will have the same opportunities that allowed him to live, work, and raise a family in Monmouth County.
Houghtaling is a 38-year member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 400, where he has been an elected officer for 9 years, and also a representative to the Monmouth and Ocean Counties Central Labor Council for 14 years. His work with labor has given him a keen understanding of the issues facing working families, including the need for good jobs at good wages, reining in the cost of education, and keeping communities affordable for the next generation.
District 11 covers Allenhurst, Asbury Park, Colts Neck, Deal, Eatontown, Freehold Borough, Freehold Township, Interlaken, Loch Arbour, Long Branch, Neptune, Neptune Township, Ocean Township (Monmouth), Red Bank, Shrewsbury Borough, Shrewsbury Township, Tinton Falls and West Long Branch.