Updated: Joe Danielsen Ready To Succeed Chivukula In State Assembly

Joe danielsen1

Joe Danielsen, the township Democratic Party chairman, is set to succeed Upendra Chivukula in the state Assembly.

Update 2: Danielsen will be sworn in in the Assembly chamber at 1 p.m. on Oct. 16.

Update: Danielsen was elected to fill Chivukula’s seat on Oct. 5.

Original Story: Barring any last-minute surprises, township Democratic Party chairman Joe Danielsen will become the 17th Legislative District’s newest state Assemblyman.

Danielsen is expected to win a special party election to fill the seat being vacated by Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula. Chivukula’s appointment to the state Board of Public Utilities was approved by the state Senate on Sept. 22, which means he will have to give up his Assembly seat.

“It seems to me that I have the lion’s share of support” among Democrats in the district’s five towns, Danielsen said Sept. 22. “But I’m not taking that for granted. Anything can happen in politics.”

Danielsen, a self-employed IT tech consultant, is also a volunteer fireman and served for six years as a Fire Commissioner for Fire District 1. A lifelong Franklin resident, he was also a member of the township Planning Board.

Danielsen said he’s confident in his ability to be an effective legislator.

“I think I’d be a great legislator,” he said. “I think I have excellent skills and attributes to represent the best interests of the district.”

Danielsen said he thought the biggest issue facing the district – which encompasses Franklin, Piscataway, New Brunswick, North Brunswick and Milltown – is the biggest issue facing the state: the budget.

“We have a mountain of long-term debt obligations and the problem seems to be spiraling downhill,” he said. “With a lack of consensus between the executive and legislative branches, it’s going to get worse.”

“Politicians need to be creative and courageous,” Danielsen said. “There’s no other way. They’re going to have to bite the bullet.”

Consensus-building is one of Danielsen’s strong suits, he said.

“It’s all about bringing everybody to the table, getting everybody involved, finding out where the consensus is and then defending that consensus,” he said. “That’s the recipe, whether it’s five people or 5,000 people.”

Danielsen said he’s not worried that he may not yet be well-klnown outside of the township.

“People find out who you are by you being busy and working hard and the integrity you use to work for everybody,” he said.

While he knows of no opposition to his candidacy, Danielsen said nothing will be certain until after the Oct. 5 vote.

“It’s a week and a half away, that’s a lifetime in politics,” he said.

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