by WorldTribune Staff, August 1, 2023
New Jersey Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver died suddenly and unexpectedly on Tuesday, her family announced. She was 71.
No cause of death has been reported.
Oliver was serving as acting governor at the time of her death as Democrat Gov. Phil Murphy was on vacation in Italy.
State Senate President Nicholas Scutari took over as acting governor when Oliver was rushed to the hospital Monday.
“It is with incredible sadness and a heavy heart that we announce the passing of the Honorable Sheila Y. Oliver, Lieutenant Governor of the State of New Jersey,” the Oliver family said in a statement. “She was not only a distinguished public servant but also our cherished daughter, sister, aunt, friend, and hero.”
Oliver, a Democrat, was born and raised in Newark and had a sociology degree from Pennsylvania’s Lincoln University. She served on the Essex County board of chosen freeholders from 1996 to 1999 before winning election to the state Assembly in 2004.
In 2010, Oliver became Assembly speaker but lost the position to Assemblyman Vincent Prieto in 2013. Murphy selected her to be his running mate in 2017. They won, and she became the second New Jersey lieutenant governor since the position was created under former Republican Gov. Chris Christie. The pair won re-election in 2021.
Christie tweeted, “It is a sad day for NJ and for me personally. I will miss Sheila. She served as Speaker in my first term and we treated each other with kindness and respect. She was a great person and partner.”
A spokesperson for Murphy told the Associated Press he will be “returning soon” but did not say when. He was scheduled to return Aug. 13.