Hudson County electeds pay tribute to Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver after her sudden passing


Hudson County elected officials are paying tribute to late Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, 71, after her sudden passing was announced by her family early this afternoon.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“To say that I am devastated by today’s news is an understatement. Lieutenant Governor Sheila Y. Oliver was a relentless voice for the voiceless, a passionate advocate for the disadvantaged, and a champion for the most important issues facing the Garden State,” U.S. Senator Bob Menendez said in a statement.

“From her earliest victories in public service when she saved affordable housing for low-income residents in Newark to her trailblazing service as the first African American woman to lead the General Assembly as Speaker, Lieutenant Governor Oliver was an inspiration to all of us who dream of an equal and prosperous future.”

Oliver was briefly served as the acting governor with Gov. Phil Murphy (D) going to Italy for a two-week family vacation on Friday.

However, yesterday it was announced that she had to be hospitalized and therefore state Senate President Nick Scutari (D-22) would be assuming the role of acting governor. Murphy is now expected to be returning to New Jersey in short order.

Her family announced her passing just over 24 hours later, offering few details other than her memorial arrangements will be announced soon. They also asked for privacy during this difficult time. Oliver had been struggling with health issues for quite some time.

“When I selected her to be my running mate in 2017, Lieutenant Governor Oliver was already a trailblazer in every sense of the word. She had already made history as the first Black woman to serve as Speaker of the General Assembly, and just the second Black woman in the nation’s history to lead a house of a state legislature,” Murphy stated.

“I knew then that her decades of public service made her the ideal partner for me to lead the State of New Jersey. It was the best decision I ever made.”

Thus far, the majority of the local tributes have come out of Jersey City, though Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla has also publicly offered his condolences.

“I am deeply saddened by the passing of Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver. Her dedication to public service was inspiring, and her loss is felt across our community and the entire State,” he said.

“Let us honor her memory by continuing the work she started. I am sending my thoughts and prayers to her loved ones during this difficult time.”

Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, the only declared candidate for governor in 2025, echoed a similar sentiment.

“RIP to Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, who was a true trailblazer and someone who epitomized the values of the Democratic Party. My prayers are with Sheila’s family, friends and colleagues during this difficult time,” he tweeted.

As for Hudson County Commissioner Bill O’Dea (D-2), he indicated that he had lost a friend and that is was a big loss for the whole state.

“I have known Shelia Oliver for over 30 years. She was a friend. Always charming and caring, she was accessible and a great problem solver. She cared greatly for our cities and our children. It is a great loss,” he wrote on Twitter.

Jersey City Councilmen Yousef Saleh, James Solomon, and Frank “Educational” Gilmore also paid their respects online.

“Very tragic to hear that Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver has passed away. Please keep her family in your prayers. She was the consummate advocate and ally and this was a huge loss for NJ,” Saleh posted in an Instagram story.

“Sheila Oliver was an indomitable, history-making force in NJ. She will be missed, and I’m sending her loved ones my thoughts during this difficult time,” Solomon tweeted.

Also on Twitter, Gilmore succinctly offered his “heart and condolences” to Oliver’s family and friends.

Furthermore, U.S. Rep Rob Menendez (D-8) essentially said that Oliver’s accolades and accomplishments over nearly three decades of public service made her one of a kind.

“Lieutenant Governor Sheila Y. Oliver was a true public servant as she brought her “experiences and communities with her to each position she held,” his own statement says.

As the first Black woman to serve as Speaker of the New Jersey General Assembly, and as Lieutenant Governor, she was also a trailblazer and an unrelenting fighter for the people of New Jersey who dedicated decades of her life to public service.”

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  1. All the “grieving” and no one seems remotely interested why the Lt. Governor just suddenly joined the ranks of the “cause unknown” sudden deaths.