Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (245369)
Credit: Contributed

Democratic New Jersey gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy announced his selection of State Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver as his running mate in the race to serve as his lieutenant governor.

Monday, dozens of politicians celebrated her official nomination at an event in Newark. The event was reportedly attended by Central Ward Councilwoman Gayle Chaneyfield Jenkins, former Newark mayor Sharpe James, former Councilman Calvin West and former Gov. Jim McGreevey.

Oliver is New Jersey’s first African-American woman Assembly speaker. She represents the 34th Legislative District covering East Orange, Montclair, Orange and Clifton. She previously served as the speaker of the New Jersey General Assembly for two terms, from 2010 to 2014.

“Sheila is the perfect person to help create an economy that is stronger and fairer for all New Jerseyans,” Murphy said in a statement. “In the Assembly, Sheila has been a strong leader in standing up for working people against powerful interests. Most of all, she knows the hard work New Jerseyans do every day to put food on their tables and make ends meet.”

Murphy also noted Oliver’s track record on certain issues, including equal pay, increases in minimum wage, Planned Parenthood funding, affordable health care and education.

“None of the pomp can paper over the failures of Chris Christie and Kim Guadagno,” Oliver said. “Our economy doesn’t work, our middle class can’t find enough good work and our commuters can’t even get to work. It’s time for new leadership that throws away the Christie-Guadagno blueprint and draws a new vision of growth and fairness for our state. New Jersey’s already had eight years of the Christie-Guadagno administration—and eight is enough.”

A native of Newark, Oliver served on the East Orange Board of Education from 1994 to 2000, chosen as its vice president from 1998 to 1999 and president from 1999 to 2000. She is one of the founders of the Newark Coalition for Low Income Housing and successfully sued the Newark Housing Authority and the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development in federal court to block the demolition of all publicly subsidized low-income housing in Newark.

Oliver was first elected to the State Assembly in 2005 and is the second African-American woman in the nation to lead a state legislature.

“The people of New Jersey deserve statewide leadership that is courageous, innovative, and honest about protecting the rights of all citizens,” said Newark Mayor Ras Baraka. “In selecting Sheila Oliver as his running mate, Phil Murphy has demonstrated his commitment to transparent and open dialogue with all of New Jersey’s residents. Assemblywoman Oliver will bring to the job of lieutenant governor a wealth of experience, a keen intellect and a thorough knowledge of public policy.”