New Jersey mourns death of history-making Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver


New Jersey Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver dies at 71.
New Jersey Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver dies at 71.

New Jersey Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, a trailblazer and the first Black woman to hold a statewide-elected office in the Garden State, has passed away at the age of 71. 

Her family announced the sad news, but the cause of death has not been disclosed.

“Sheila Y. Oliver leaves behind a legacy of dedication, service, and inspiration. We will remember her commitment to the people of New Jersey and her tireless efforts to uplift the community,” her family said in a statement.

Lt. Gov. Oliver had an impressive career in public service. She was first elected to the state general assembly in 2003 and later became the first Black woman to serve as speaker of the state assembly. In 2018, she made history again when she became the first woman of color to serve in a statewide elected office as New Jersey’s lieutenant governor.

Speaking at a commencement address, Oliver recalled how she got into politics unexpectedly, but her dedication to serving the people led her to become the speaker of the assembly and later the lieutenant governor.

Governor Phil Murphy, who selected Oliver as his running mate, praised her as a trailblazer and the ideal partner to lead the state. “It was the best decision I ever made,” he said.

During her time as lieutenant governor, Oliver served as the head of the Department of Community Affairs, overseeing state aid to towns and cities and code enforcement.

She was known for her dedication to social justice, affordable housing, and economic opportunities for all New Jerseyans, especially those in disadvantaged communities.

Many leaders and officials, including Senator Cory Booker and Senator Bob Menendez, expressed their condolences and remembered Oliver as a tireless advocate for the people.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul and New York City Mayor Eric Adams also acknowledged her as a trailblazer who broke barriers for women of color in government.

New Jersey mourns the loss of a remarkable public servant who made a significant impact on the state and its people. Oliver’s legacy will continue to inspire generations to come. Memorial arrangements will be announced later to honor her life and contributions to the community.


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