By John BurtonOne of the most stalwart Republican forces in the state Legislature, Middletown’s Joseph Kyrillos, announced on Tuesday, he would not seek another term in the Senate.“It has been the greatest privilege of my life to serve the people of my district and the state of New Jersey in the Legislature,” said Kyrillos in a statement his office released this week. “Ever since I was a kid growing up in Monmouth County, I’ve always believed that public service is an important and noble profession. I am truly fortunate to have had the ability to serve for so many years in the state Senate, and I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished on behalf of the people of New Jersey. And, of course, the frustrations of serving in the Minority and the current political process are obvious.”Kyrillos, 56, has been serving in Trenton for 27 years, first in the Assembly for two two-year terms and was sworn in for his first Senate term in 1992, where he will continue to serve until his current term expires in January 2018.Kyrillos represents the 13th Legislative District, made up of 13 Monmouth County communities, including the Bayshore area from Aberdeen to Highlands, Fair Haven, Little Silver, Marlboro, Oceanport, Rumson, Monmouth Beach and Sea Bright. According to his office, Kyrillos is the second youngest person elected to the Senate since the 1947 Constitutional Convention and the tenth youngest since 1844. He served as only the 29th Republican state chairman in the recorded history of the party since 1880 and one of only four to serve simultaneously in the legislature. When he unsuccessfully ran for the U.S. Senate in 2012, Kyrillos’ office said he joined a small group of 135 individuals in the history of New Jersey who earned the privilege to have been nominated for governor or U.S. senator by the two major political parties.“When I leave the Senate in January 2018, I will have spent more than half my lifetime serving in public life,” Kyrillos said. “It’s time for some new challenges and opportunities and it’s also time to give others an opportunity to serve.”“He’s going out a winner,” observed John O. Bennett III, a fellow Monmouth County Republican who had served as senator, Senate president and acting governor during his tenure in Trenton. Bennett had worked closely with Kyrillos during their time together in the Legislature’s upper house. “Joe has always been recognized as a great legislator, a good guy, a nice guy, a team player,” Bennett said of his friend and former colleague. “He’ll be missed by his constituents.”By giving a lengthy notice, Kyrillos will give ample time to the county GOP organization to name a replacement for next year’s ballot, Bennett explained. Economic GrowthWhen Republicans held the legislative majority in the Statehouse, Kyrillos served as majority conference leader and chaired standing committees on economic development and natural resources. A ranking member of the Economic Growth, Judiciary and Legislative Oversight committees, he was the original sponsor of the state’s landmark Business Employment Incentive Program (BEIP), which has resulted in the creation of hundreds of thousands of New Jersey jobs. Kyrillos also sponsored the “Grow New Jersey” bill, which is the state’s current business incentive program. He voted more than 140 times to reduce taxes and fees. Environmental and Shore ProtectionA lifelong Monmouth County resident, Kyrillos worked to protect New Jersey’s coastline and help the shore region rebuild in the aftermath of Super Storm Sandy. He helped establish the state’s Shore Protection Fund in 1993, which provided the first stable source of funding for protecting New Jersey’s beaches. He also sponsored legislation to keep our oceans clean and close the CAFRA loophole to protect the shoreline from overdevelopment and decay. Kyrillos led the early fight for green acres and open space efforts and sponsored the state’s Environmental Infrastructure Trust. EducationKyrillos, an advocate for improving education, was the prime sponsor of the School Report Card legislation to hold public schools and teachers accountable. He also sponsored the current teacher tenure reform bill and has advocated for reforms to the state’s inequitable school funding formula. Government ReformWorking with legislators on both sides of the aisle, Kyrillos championed several bi-partisan reform measures to lower property taxes and fix systemic problems with the state budget. He was a prime sponsor of the 2-percent cap on property taxes that is helping to control excessive local spending. He worked with the governor and legislative leaders to begin to fix the state’s broken pension system. Recently, he helped forge the coalition to renew the Transportation Trust Fund, eliminate the estate tax and the income tax for most retirees. Along the way, he sponsored initiatives that created the NJ Cultural Trust, the NJ BEST vehicle for higher education savings, and the bill that created today’s NJTV.“Joe Kyrillos’s history of public service to Monmouth County and all of New Jersey is extraordinary,” said state Sen. Tom Kean Jr. (R-21), in a statement released on Wednesday. “He has been the voice of reason that members of both parties in the New Jersey Senate have looked to for leadership on key issues since 1992,” especially for such issues as shore protection and efforts to grow the state economy.Outside of his legislative responsibilities Kyrillos has worked in commercial real estate as senior managing director for the Newmark Grubb Night Frank firm and as a director for Newport Capital, a Red Bank investment advisory firm. In the political trenches over the years he had been a leader in the state and national Republican Party, serving as New Jersey Republican state chairman and member of the Republican National Committee from 2001 to 2004. Kyrillos was the New Jersey Chairman of Mitt Romney’s campaign in 2008, and in 2009, he served as the chairman of Gov. Chris Christie’s successful campaign and as a member of the transition team. He was the Republican nominee for the United States Senate in 2012 and served as a close advisor to former Florida governor Jeb Bush in the 2016 Republican presidential primary.Over the years he tried to move up and secure other elected positions but was unsuccessful. In 1992 he took on Democrat Frank Pallone for the U.S House of Representative. And in 2012 Kyrillos won the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat held by Frank Lautenberg until his death. Kyrillos, however, had the misfortune of competing with the juggernaut that was Super Storm Sandy, that had devastated so much of the shore area, Kyrillos’s base, displacing many voters; and had as his Democratic competition Newark Mayor Cory Booker and the national attention his campaign had attracted.In the Legislature he had developed a reputation of working with opposing sides to reach consensus as a leader of the minority party.Vin Gopal, chairman of the Monmouth County Democratic Committee, spoke of his appreciation for Kyrillos’ bipartisan efforts for the state’s betterment and their personal friendship.“I think he’s a great senator, a great guy,” Gopal said. “He’s one of the last remaining gentlemen in New Jersey politics who was able to work across the aisle.“He will be sorely missed.”“I love Joe and I’ll miss him,” offered Declan O’Scanlon, a Republican member of the Assembly who represents the 13th with Kyrillos. “He is one of the most outstanding public servants that New Jersey has seen in the last 30 years. And I don’t think I’m exaggerating.”Kyrillos hasn’t announced his future plans other than to say he hasn’t ruled out a possible return to the political arena sometime in the future.“He’s a young guy,” Bennett observed. “I don’t know that’s Joe’s taking a departure from public service forever.”Kyrillos and his wife, Susan and children will continue to reside in Middletown, according to office.