(TRENTON) – Assembly Speaker-elect Vincent Prieto on Friday announced Steve Gardner will serve as the Assembly Majority Office’s executive director, Mary Alice Messenger as Chief of Staff to the Speaker in Trenton and Cosmo Cirillo as a senior advisor to the Speaker.
The moves are effective when the Assembly reorganizes on Jan. 14.
“I’m very excited to announce this team,” said Prieto (D-Hudson/Bergen). “With Steve, Mary and Cosmo, I know I will have the best team in Trenton, and that it will prove to be a force when it comes to advocating for the people of our state and the Assembly Democratic Majority caucus. I look forward to seeing their hard-work paying off for everyone’s benefit.”
Gardner, a graduate of Syracuse University and Rutgers-Camden Law School, is currently a deputy executive director at the Assembly Majority Office and senior advisor to Majority Leader Lou Greenwald (D-Camden/Burlington).
The Hamilton resident previously worked as Director of Government Affairs for the New Jersey Laborers’ Employers’ Cooperation and Education Trust, which is the public affairs arm of the Laborers’ International Union of North America. Gardner worked there for 12 years. He started his career as aide to Assemblymen Herb Conaway M.D. and Jack Conners.
“Steve is a veteran of many policy battles, and I am thrilled he’s agreed to serve as executive director of the Assembly Majority Office,” Prieto said. “His entire career has been devoted to helping working families thrive and succeed, and that’s the mindset I want the Assembly to thoroughly embrace during my tenure as its leader. That makes Steve the perfect fit for this role, and I know his diligence, stellar experience and strong background will serve the majority caucus – and the people of New Jersey – well.”
Messenger will serve in the vital role as Prieto’s Chief of Staff in Trenton. She has served as executive director, deputy executive director and led the office’s budgeting efforts.
The College of William and Mary graduate and Bordentown City resident has been responsible for the preparation, deliberation and execution of the Assembly’s legislative budget review process, helped craft more than 25 state budgets and led the office’s research activities and committee operations. She has also undertaken many special projects for the caucus.
“I can think of no one more valuable to serve as my chief of staff than Mary,” Prieto said. “Her institutional knowledge and experience navigating the inner workings of state government and policy are, quite simply, unmatched. Mary is an expert when it comes to policy, so she is the person I want helping me craft policy and push our agenda forward. I couldn’t be more thrilled to have her serving in an important leadership role. Her loyalty, hard work and talents have made her a key player on every single thing we’ve done, and I’m excited that will continue.”
Cirillo will serve as a senior advisor to Prieto. The West New York resident graduated from Seton Hall University with a degree in political science. He also has a masters of public administration degree from Seton Hall.
Cirillo has worked for Assemblywoman Angelica Jimenez (D-Hudson/Bergen) since 2012, overseeing and managing district office employees, researching and coordinating legislative initiatives and handling constituent relations. He previously served in several key roles in West New York, including Board of Education president, aide to the mayor, deputy municipal clerk and secretary to its Alcoholic Beverage Control board.
“Cosmo will bring a great perspective to the office, and I’m excited to have this outstanding talent come aboard,” Prieto said. “His energy, enthusiasm and unique experience and abilities will be a key part of our effort as we drive our agenda forward for the benefit of New Jersey. His knowledge and experience with legislation, constituent relations, education and municipal government will make him an invaluable addition to the Assembly Majority Office.”