NJ’s Chiesa Gives Maiden Speech on Senate Floor

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -

The person Gov. Chris Christie chose to temporarily fill a vacancy in the U.S. Senate gave his first official speech on Tuesday, saying he’ll use his brief time in Washington to raise awareness about the crime of human trafficking.

Sen. Jeffrey Chiesa, who is serving in the Senate for four months ending in October, said he rejected the notion that he’s a caretaker. He vowed to uphold the honor of the office by working hard while he’s representing New Jersey.

“No one who has the high honor and privilege of serving in this body should ever be content to serve as a caretaker, to merely keep the seat warm,” said Chiesa, 48. “Representing the people even for a brief period of time demands that one work to make a difference.”

In his 10-minute address, Chiesa talked about the costs of human trafficking on victims and society, referring to it as “modern-day slavery.” He’s led efforts to combat trafficking in two previous jobs under Christie, assistant U.S. attorney and attorney general.

Chiesa began the address by mentioning his predecessor, Frank Lautenberg, and joking about his short tenure.

“It occurred to me that if I waited any longer in speaking on the Senate floor for the first time, my maiden speech and my farewell address would be one and the same,” he said.