Sheila Oliver was a prominent figure in New Jersey state politics for nearly two full decades. A member of the Democratic Party, Oliver had previously been politically active at the local level.

She was selected by future Governor Phil Murphy to become the second-highest-ranking public official in the state. Oliver spent the last several years in the role. Tragically her tenure has come to an early conclusion.

Passed away on August 1, 2023

Sheila Oliver has died. She was 71 years old. The cause of death was not immediately released to the public.

But she had been rushed to Livingston, New Jersey's Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center the day before. She evidently remained there until her passing.

Murphy released a statement requesting that readers keep Oliver's family in their thoughts and prayers. He also called her a "genuine and kind person" and said that her "friendship and partnership" would be irreplaceable. Former Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie also expressed his sadness at the news. Saying he would miss her and calling her "a great person and a great partner."

According to state law, Murphy is allotted 45 days to appoint a successor to Oliver as lieutenant governor. As it presently stands, State Senate President Nicholas Scutari is now the number two state official in New Jersey.

Scutari is also a Democrat.

Murphy selected Oliver as his potential lieutenant governor in 2017. He handily won the gubernatorial election later that year over the Republican nominee, then-Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno. Both he and Oliver assumed their new offices early the following year. Murphy was re-elected over Republican former State Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli in 2021.

In addition to lieutenant governor, Oliver also served concurrently as commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs.

Was speaker of the New Jersey General Assembly

Sheila Oliver was a native of Newark, New Jersey. She eventually joined the faculties of Caldwell University and Essex County College.

Her political career began in earnest as a member of the board of education in East Orange, New Jersey.

Oliver was eventually elected as its vice president and later president. Along the way, she also won a seat on what was then the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders. In 1997, Oliver was a candidate in the Democratic primary for mayor of East Orange.

Oliver was first elected to the New Jersey General Assembly in 2003. She would go on to become its speaker. Making Oliver the second African American woman to hold such a position in an American state legislature. She followed California's Karen Bass, later a U.S. representative and now mayor of Los Angeles.

In 2013, Oliver was a candidate in the Democratic primary in a special United States Senate election. The election was being held to fill the vacancy left after the death of longtime U.S.

Senator Frank Lautenberg. In the end, the nomination went to Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who won the general election. U.S. Representatives Frank Pallone and Rush Holt Jr. were also candidates in the primary. Pallone later became chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce.