- Associated Press - Monday, December 15, 2014

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - The New Jersey state Senate has a new member.

Nilsa Cruz-Perez was sworn in Monday. She fills the 5th Legislative District seat vacated by Donald Norcross, who resigned after he was elected to the House of Representatives last month.

Cruz-Perez will hold the seat through next year, when a special election will be held in November for the final two years of Norcross’ term.

After Senate President Steve Sweeney swore her in, Cruz-Perez promised to work hard for her constituents.

“New Jersey is a great state and together we will make it better,” she said in a brief speech to the chamber.

An Army veteran who currently heads the Camden County constituent services department, Cruz-Perez previously represented the district in the Assembly. She was the first Hispanic woman to serve in the New Jersey Legislature when she was elected in 1995 to the Assembly, where she served until 2010.

Democrats and Republicans warmly welcomed Cruz-Perez, pointing out her previous service as a lawmaker.

“Nilsa has always been a tireless advocate for Camden and south Jersey, and I am excited to have her back in the Legislature and look forward to working with her in the Senate,” Sweeney said in a statement.

Democratic county committee members from Camden and Gloucester counties unanimously agreed Saturday to have Cruz-Perez fill the seat.

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