New Jersey Gov.-elect Phil Murphy’s nominee to lead the state’s banking and insurance department has no banking experience, but could play a role in carrying out the governor-elect’s campaign pledge to bring a public bank to the Garden State.

In nominating Bergen County Assemblywoman Marlene Caride to head the Department of Banking and Insurance, Murphy praised her work as a municipal prosecutor and as a real estate attorney who worked on behalf of consumers. At a press conference Tuesday, he de-emphasized her lack of industry experience where the idea of the public bank was concerned.

“This is not doctoral calculus,” Murphy said. “This is a vehicle to keep that money in the state to be lent into the state.”

Marlene Caride
Marlene Caride, nominated to be New Jersey's next banking commissioner, has been a state assemblywoman since 2012.

Murphy has proposed creating a public bank modeled after the Bank of North Dakota, which is the only public bank in the United States today. Under his proposal, any taxes or fee revenues the state collected would be deposited into a public institution and then loaned out in the form of low-cost loans for small businesses and college students, as well as financing for community development projects.

Caride, who has served as a state assemblywoman since 2012, is an attorney with the Union City law firm Gonzalez & Caride and has also served as a zoning board attorney in South Hackensack.

“This, to me, is a wonderful idea,” Caride said of the public bank. “It will help to support our small businesses. It’ll help our college students obtain loans at a lower interest level. And it’ll help us to fund small infrastructure projects in this state.”

The New Jersey Bankers Association knows Caride from her time serving on the state assembly’s Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee, said Michael Affuso, the New Jersey Bankers Association’s executive vice president and director of government relations.

“She’s very diligent, and she’s very smart, so we look forward to looking with her,” he said. Affuso said the association still has its concerns about the idea of a state bank, but he added, “that should not reflect on her qualifications, which I think are certainly vast.”

The banking commissioner oversees state-chartered institutions, of which there are roughly 75 in New Jersey, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Caride now must be confirmed by the state Senate.

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