Elections

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy taps Newark native Sheila Oliver as running mate

6039958472674c22523b_Oliver-Murphy1200x800.jpg
Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver was announced today as Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy's runningmate. Credits: Mark J. Bonamo
cb7c6be44a4a8362e784_Slaughter-Oliver1200x800.jpg
The Rev. Ronald Slaughter, pastor of St. James AME, speaks with Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver, who was tapped by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy as his runningmate. Credits: Mark J. Bonamo
6039958472674c22523b_Oliver-Murphy1200x800.jpg

On the day she was officially named the Democratic lieutenant gubernatorial candidate, Assemblyman Sheila Oliver's mind went back to Bock Avenue, the one-block street in Newark's South Ward where she grew up and where her political awakening began. 

"It was a very multicultural and multiethnic neighborhood when I grew up there," said Oliver, 65, a 13-year state Legislature veteran who served as the first African-American female speaker of the state General Assembly from 2010 to 2014.

"My family lived down the block from (the late U.S. Rep.) Donald M. Payne, and he was the president of our block association," she said. "He told me to tell my dad to cut his hedges. People cared about our block. We had politicians, business owners, an Orthodox rabbi and the national president of the United Negro College Fund living on our street. Leadership was all around me."

Sign Up for E-News

New Jersey's Democratic Party leadership was all around her again Wednesday as Democratic gubernatorial nominee Phil Murphy announced he was adding her to his ticket.

"Sheila Oliver has stood up for everything that Chris Christie and Kim Guadagno have stood against," said Murphy to a sweltering crowd of more than 100 people outside his campaign headquarters in downtown Newark.

Murphy, a retired Goldman Sachs executive and former U.S. Ambassador to Germany, lauded Oliver's policy positions in favor of raising the minimum wage, prioritizing property tax relief for the middle class and investing in public schools as he slammed the current Republican governor and lieutenant governor, now the GOP nominee to replace Christie.

"She's going to be an active, contributing member of our administration," Murphy said. "I'm incredibly honored to have her by my side." 

Oliver drew contrasts between the type of lieutenant governor she would be compared to Guadagno, who was the state's first.

"Unlike Kim Guadagno, I will spend every minute of my time working to make this state better for women, for children, for families and for every single constituent group up and down the state," Oliver said. 

"I have never forgot who elected me, or whose interests I serve," she said. "The Christie-Guadagno administration has done everything in their power to protect those at the top of the economic ladder, and have done very, very little to help working class people in this state. It's an administration that would try to reinstate tax fairness to millionaires, but no tax fairness to working class people. We must reject this." 

Oliver was born in Newark and graduated from the city's Chancellor Avenue School and Weequahic High School before earning degrees from Lincoln University, a historically black college, and Columbia University. 

Her more than two decades in government included membership on the school board in East Orange, her adopted hometown, as well the Essex County Freeholder Board and work as a county administrator. She was elected to the Assembly in 2003 for the 34th Legislative District, representing the Essex County municipalities of East Orange, Montclair, Orange as well as the Passaic County of Clifton.

The ballot alliance between Murphy and Oliver represents the joining of two separate socioeconomic subsets in New Jersey that also reflect a statewide and nationwide divide in the Democratic Party - one largely white and suburban and the other mostly people of color and urban. 

Murphy, a Monmouth County resident who grew up in an Irish American working-class family from outside of Boston, noted that crossing this divide is an important reason why he picked Oliver. 

"We don't want to just say nice things about leadership that's inclusive in government - we want to show that in our actions," Murphy told TAPinto Newark. "We may have come to this from different perspectives and different backgrounds, but we share that same belief that we rise and fall as one state, and frankly as one country."

Several Essex County politicians who watched Oliver work her way up in politics described her journey.

"She's got a strong personality, and you want that kind of person around you to tell you how they feel," said Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincnezo, Jr. "She brings in not only urban votes to the ticket. Whether she's in Newark or Millburn, she's well respected and she knows the issues. She's going to take that respect statewide." 

Chris James, the New Jersey Democratic State Committee executive director and East Orange city councilman who served as Oliver's chief of staff, said he learned how to balance and compromise from Oliver.

"You have to work with everyone to move things forward," James said. "She knows how to do this in Trenton. But I've also seen her fight to make sure that the poorest people in our state get what they need to survive. This is a continuation of what she's already done." 

Essex County Freeholder Brendan Gill, Murphy's campaign manager and chair of the Montclair Democrats, said what drove Murphy's decision to pick Oliver is her qualifications.

"It's ultimately [Murphy's] choice as to what her role should be," Gill said. "But she'll be part of an agenda focused on economic fairness, which is not just exclusive to cities." 

After getting the official nominee nod from Murphy, Oliver went to a noontime service at St. James AME Church on Newark's Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., where the church's pastor, the Rev. Ronald L. Slaughter, called on those in the pews to support the Murphy-Oliver ticket.

At the same time, Slaughter called out those who he believed are trying to incorrectly take credit for Oliver being selected to be on the ticket.

"I'm pleased to say, after a personal conversation with him, that Phil Murphy chose Sheila Oliver, not the establishment," Slaughter told TAPinto Newark. "I said to him that he did not have to succumb to the machine to get [the Democratic gubernatorial nomination], and he should not have to succumb to the machine in order to chose his running mate. Her selection was not done by Joe DiVincenzo or [Essex County Democratic Chairman] Leroy Jones Jr., and they don't choose for the whole community. Sheila is experienced, but she has bucked the establishment herself. That makes her a good candidate who can help Murphy."

Jones shrugged at Slaughter's assertions, focusing instead on Oliver's assets to the Murphy ticket.

"This wasn't anything remotely close to a backroom deal," Jones said. "Sheila is an institution inside the institution of the Legislature. She knows its inner workings. It's going to be a learning process for Phil Murphy as governor, and she can help him navigate through all the nooks and crannies of Trenton. She's a true policy wonk, and she's going to play that role, too." 

Oliver's potential role as the first African-American lieutenant governor, one step away from the top spot in Trenton, was foreseen by somebody else from back on Bock Avenue. 

"Every summer when she was a little girl, she would get an award from the library because she read the most books, but she's got a tough side, too," said Jennie Oliver, the Assemblywoman's mother. "I'll take a little credit for the tough side."

That same drive forward fuels Oliver this summer for a final election test in the fall. She said she is going to be thinking about all of the other black women from Newark's South Ward who are trying to power forward in their own lives.

"We have to change the trajectory in Trenton and create a more representative government in Trenton. Take a look at the Port Authority - you go to a board meeting, you see mostly white men around the table," Oliver said. "Those guys don't take the PATH train. They don't take the bus. I'm a voice for people who don't have a voice. That's been the labor of my entire life."

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

North Plainfield/Green Brook/Watchung

Somerset Regional Animal Shelter Offering July Adoption Promotion for Cats/Kittens

July 10, 2018

BRIDGEWATER, NJ - The Somerset Regional Animal Shelter, in Bridgewater, is urgently looking for homes for its cats and kittens.

According to a release from the shelter, the population surges throughout the summer during kitten breeding season, and so the shelter is launching a special promotion to help increase cat and kitten adoptions. During the month of July, all cats and kittens that over ...

Do You Recognize These Dogs?

PLAINFIELD, NJ - Two dogs were found in Plainfield near the fire station on Central Avenue on Saturday. 

The dogs are currently with a family in South Plainfield.  If you recognize the dogs, please email TAPinto Plainfield at jpopper@tapinto.net.

3rd Annual Meadowlands BBQ Battle a Smokin’ Success

July 18, 2018

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - Seven competitors battled it out at Meadowlands Racing and Entertainment's 3rd Annual BBQ Battle on Saturday, July 14, all vying for $2,000 in prizes and most importantly, bragging rights. 

The BBQ categories of best Ribs, Brisket, Chicken, and Pulled Pork, came with a $500 prize to the winner of each category. A panel of five judges conducted a blind ...

3-Day ‘AddamsFest’ set to Celebrate Charles Addams and His Creations This Fall

WESTFIELD, NJ — It’s creepy. It’s kooky. And it’s taking over Westfield from Oct 26 to 28. AddamsFest, a town-wide celebration honoring Westfield native Charles Addams and his most famous creations, The Addams Family, will be a destination event this fall with family-friendly activities, lectures, exhibits and film screenings, the town announced Thursday.

Watch the ...

Make the Call, Save a Life

July 10, 2018

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - There is much focus on preventative opioid abuse education. Rightfully so. However, the goal in addressing the opioid epidemic is saving lives. Even if that means just saving one life. While people are becoming increasingly aware of resources relating to rehabilitative services, support groups for friends and family of addicts, and training parents for signs of opioid and ...

Get Ready Warren: Fireworks, Food and Family Fun At Mt. Carmel Feast

July 13, 2018

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, N.J. – It’s time again for the annual Mt. Carmel Feast, a four-day festival full of food, music, games, rides, fireworks, and other family fun, located at Mt. Carmel Field in Berkeley Heights.

The fairgrounds will be open from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday, July 13 through Monday, July 16. Those four nights will include concerts, games, and ...

Somerset Regional Animal Shelter Offering July Adoption Promotion for Cats/Kittens

BRIDGEWATER, NJ - The Somerset Regional Animal Shelter, in Bridgewater, is urgently looking for homes for its cats and kittens.

According to a release from the shelter, the population surges throughout the summer during kitten breeding season, and so the shelter is launching a special promotion to help increase cat and kitten adoptions. During the month of July, all cats and kittens that over ...

To Our Current and Future Representatives

July 17, 2018

To Our Current and Future Representatives - Wherever They May Be:

We can never forget we are a nation of immigrants. 

We cannot fall prey to fear, ignorance and anger when we  have been historically driven by freedom and justice. 

We must have the courage and will to fight hate, bigotry and prejudice. 

We must not wake up to what we hoped was a bad dream and ...

Obituaries

South Plainfield, NJ – Margaret (Pascazio) Butfiloski, 99, passed away peacefully on June 2, ...
Read more

Upcoming Events

Mon, July 30, 11:00 AM

Watchung Library, Watchung

Touch the Music

Arts & Entertainment

Carousel_image_a2c4ddef7ed6c72e648e_17crowd1

Thu, August 2, 4:00 PM

Milt Campbell Fields, Plainfield

Music in the Park @ Milt Campbell Field - Free ...

Arts & Entertainment Food & Drink

Thu, August 2, 6:00 PM

North Plainfield Memorial Library, North Plainfield

Microwaves & Mini Fridges

Food & Drink Health & Wellness

Wed, October 3, 7:00 PM

SCLSNJ's Warren Township Library branch, Warren

A History of the Old Presbyterian Graveyard in ...

Government Other

Bilenker Named Interim Superintendent in Watchung, Meet and Greet Scheduled

July 19, 2018

WATCHUNG, NJ  - Watchung parents are invited to a meet and greet with the newly appointed interim superintendent of Watchung Schools, Stephanie Bilenker, at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, July 24, at Valley View Middle School. Borough Administrator Thomas Atkins commented on Thursday night that he plans on attending 

Bilenker, a former Green Brook Superintendent and Director ...

White Supremacist Actions Denounced

July 19, 2018

SOMERSET COUNTY, NJ - Two groups denounced Identity Evropa, a white supremacist group posting of fliers in multiple Central New Jersey towns. Both statements lay blame on President Donald Trump.

The New Jersey Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ) and the Somerset County Democratic Committee issued statements today. 

"The promotion of a racist and ...

White Supremacist Fliers Found in Central New Jersey Towns

BRIDGEWATER, NJ - Residents of Bridgewater, Somerville, Morristown and surrounding communities are mobilizing for action after they found posters around town promoting Identity Evropa, which the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has labeled a white supremacist group.

According to Bridgewater resident Stacey Friedlander, a member of the “Not In Our Town – Bridgewater/Raritan” ...