TRENTON — The state Senate has approved the nomination of Sarah Beth Johnson, wife of outgoing state Sen. Colin Bell, as a Superior Court judge in Atlantic County.

“I’m humbled and honored to follow in the very large footstep of my father,” said Johnson, the daughter of Atlantic County Superior Court judge and “Boardwalk Empire” author Nelson Johnson, during a hearing Thursday.

Republicans have criticized the nomination, saying Bell is looking to line his pockets before leaving the Senate in January. Bell did not vote on his wife’s nomination.

The Atlantic County Democratic Committee selected Bell to take the seat of Sen. Jim Whelan, who died in August. Republican Assemblyman Chris Brown defeated Bell in the election Nov. 7.

“I would like to express my gratitude for the guidance and support given to me and my family by Sen. Jim Whelan,” said Johnson, an attorney from Margate. “Sen. Whelan was a great advocate for not only my family but the people of Atlantic County, and he was an excellent role model of public service.”

In a letter obtained by The Press of Atlantic City, Johnson was contacted by the state director of appointments June 24, 2016, saying her name was submitted as a potential candidate as a Superior Court judge.

“If I have the honor of being confirmed and appointed, I will strive to perform my goal as a judge that will honor (Whelan’s) legacy,” Johnson said during her hearing.

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Started working in newsrooms when I was 17 years old. Spent 15 years working for Gannett New Jersey before coming to The Press of Atlantic City in April 2015.

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