I can’t say that I knew John Adler well, but since I follow New Jersey government and politics, I was well aware of his activities as a State Senator and U.S. Congressman. His death at age 51 is a tragedy – not only for those who knew him much better than I did, but also for the New Jerseyans he served as an elected official.
The reaction to his passing – from both Democrats and Republicans – is sincere and provides a badly needed reminder that, even in today’s world of partisanship and polarization, a sense of camaraderie and decency still remains.
The one personal memory I have of John Adler took place late in 2008 when he was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. One of the Hall Institute trustees had been nominated to the State Board of Education, and I sat in on the session to make certain everything ran smoothly, and for our purposes, it did.
But I also had an opportunity to watch Adler deal with a variety of more controversial nominations. He conducted the hearing with class, and he treated everyone fairly, whether the speaker was a powerful attorney, a sitting judge, an influential state official or just an average citizen with a gripe. In fact, he took great care to ensure that the average citizens at the hearing — those not familiar with the Legislature’s role in the nomination process — understood the processes and procedures, so that they would leave Trenton knowing that their state representatives had listened to them.
My brief encounter with John Adler is consistent with what those who knew him better have been saying in the wake of his passing. Rest in peace, Mr. Congressman.
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