St. Thomas-St. John Sen. Donna Frett-Gregory is expected to serve as president of the 34th Legislature, according to the new 10-member Democratic majority caucus.
Frett-Gregory, a former Education commissioner and top vote-getter in both the 2018 and 2020 elections, said she hopes to put together a “coordinated and focused agenda” driven by collaboration.
“There is much work to be done as we begin our recovery from the economic and social impacts of coronavirus which requires all 15 senators working together,” Frett-Gregory said in a statement.
Sen. Novelle Francis Jr., formerly the president of the 33rd Legislature, is expected to serve as Senate vice president and Sen. Kenneth Gittens as majority leader. Senator-elect Genevieve Whitaker was nominated to serve as Senate secretary.
The 34th Legislature will be sworn in Monday. Once the Oath of Office is administered, senators will convene for an inaugural session and formally vote on the body’s officers, committee assignments and rules.
The other six members of the majority caucus include Sens. Marvin Blyden, Javan James Sr., Steven Payne Sr., and Kurt Vialet, along with Senators-elect Carla Joseph and Milton Potter — all of whom are expected to chair Senate committees.
In a statement from the majority caucus, proposed committee leaders included:
• Rules and Judiciary chaired by Senator-elect Potter
• Finance chaired by Sen. Vialet
• Health, Hospitals and Human Services chaired by Sen. Francis
• Education and Workforce Development chaired by Senator-elect Whitaker
• Youth, Sports, Parks, Recreation and Culture chaired by Sen. James
• Economic Development and Agriculture chaired by Sen. Gittens
• Homeland Security, Justice, Public Affairs and Veterans chaired by Sen. Payne
• Government Operations chaired by Senator-elect Joseph
• Housing, Transportation, Infrastructure and Telecommunications chaired by Sen. Blyden
Despite Frett-Gregory’s emphasis on collaboration and working across the aisle, none of the five non-Democratic members of the 34th Legislature were nominated to lead a committee.
These included Independent Sen. Janelle Sarauw, who chaired the powerful Rules and Judiciary Committee in the 33rd Legislature and came a close second in the 2020 election, losing to Frett-Gregory by just 28 votes.
Sarauw told The Daily News that the proposed makeup was “deep-rooted party politics that isn’t always the right recipe for governing.”
“The party was clear that they only wanted a Democratic majority, void of capacity or work ethic,” she said. “That was the only qualification for chairing a committee — simply be a Democrat. So, if that’s the way the majority wants it then so it is.”
The other four unaligned senators of the 34th Legislature include Sen. Dwayne DeGraff, along with Senators-elect Sam Carrion, Alma Francis Heyliger and Franklin Johnson.