Lieutenant Governor Way to Succeed Lieutenant Governor Sheila Y. Oliver
September 8, 2023
TRENTON – Governor Phil Murphy today announced Secretary of State Tahesha L. Way as the next Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey. In a ceremony in the New Jersey Executive State House, Lieutenant Governor Way was sworn into her new role, which she assumes after the unexpected passing of Lieutenant Governor Sheila Y. Oliver on August 1, 2023.
“Sheila Oliver was the greatest partner in government I could have ever hoped for, and she leaves incredibly big shoes to fill,” said Governor Murphy. “While no one can truly replace her, I am deeply proud to appoint Secretary of State Tahesha Way to succeed her as Lieutenant Governor. Tahesha has been with our administration from the very beginning, and her work over the past five and a half years leading the Department of State has grown New Jersey’s tourism economy, uplifted small businesses, and strengthened our election system. Tahesha is the perfect candidate to join me in finishing the job that Sheila and I started.”
“I considered Lieutenant Governor Oliver a close friend and mentor – someone I looked to for guidance to better serve the people of New Jersey,” said Lieutenant Governor Tahesha Way. “To have been selected as her successor as New Jersey’s next Lieutenant Governor is one of the greatest honors of my career. I come to this position as the child of two public servants who molded me into the person I am today. Having experience at different levels of government has showed me the important role that those of us in public office can play in improving the lives of families across our state. I look forward to finishing the work of this Administration with Governor Murphy and continuing to build on the legacy Lieutenant Governor Oliver fostered.”
“We are very pleased with Governor Murphy’s selection of Tahesha Way as Sheila’s successor to be the next Lieutenant Governor,” said the Oliver Family. “Our beloved Sheila dedicated her heart and soul to serving the people of New Jersey –displaying an unwavering commitment to public service that we know Tahesha shares. We know Sheila would have been proud that Tahesha has been selected to carry out her legacy.”
Lieutenant Governor Way comes to the position with over two decades in public service. In addition to fulfilling her duties as Lieutenant Governor, she will also continue to serve as Secretary of State.
During her tenure as Secretary of State, Way became the first Black person and first Secretary of State from New Jersey to lead the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) as President, helping to defend democracy at both the state and national level. Prior to becoming Secretary of State, Secretary Way was an Administrative Law Judge for the State of New Jersey. She was elected to the Passaic County Board of Chosen Freeholders in 2006, where she later served as the Freeholder Director in 2009. She also served as a Council Member for the New Jersey Highlands Water Protection and Planning Council.
Lieutenant Governor Way is a graduate of Brown University. She also holds a Juris Doctor from the University of Virginia School of Law at Charlottesville. She and her husband Charles have four children and reside in Wayne.
The Honorable Sheila Y. Oliver served as New Jersey’s second Lieutenant Governor and the only woman of color to be elected to statewide office in New Jersey history. During her tenure as Lieutenant Governor, Sheila also served as the Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs, where she oversaw efforts to strengthen and expand initiatives for fair and affordable housing, community revitalization, homelessness prevention, local government services, and more. Before taking on the role as Lieutenant Governor, Sheila served in many key roles within the public, non-profit, and private sectors, most notably becoming the first African American woman in New Jersey history to serve as Assembly Speaker, and just the second in the nation’s history to lead a state legislative house.
Lieutenant Governor Oliver was a trailblazer in every sense of the word and will always be remembered for her contributions to the communities of New Jersey, particularly communities of color.
Lt. Governor Tahesha Way, Esq
Govenor Phil Murphy:
As you have entered the State House this week, you may have noticed that the American and New Jersey flags are flying at full staff, for the first time in a full month.
From August 4 to September 4, those flags were lowered in honor of our late Lieutenant Governor Sheila Y. Oliver, my partner in government—and one of the finest public servants our state has ever known.
During these past weeks of mourning and remembrance, I have heard the same sentiment expressed by New Jerseyans up and down our state.
It is a sentiment I not only share—but consider a call to action.
And that is this: With Sheila gone, it is now our turn to keep her legacy alive.
To continue working together—as one New Jersey family—to build a stronger, fairer state for every family.
And, to be a champion—like Sheila was—for the voiceless. For the underserved. And for the communities that have historically been left behind.
So today, with our flags flying high, I am proud to announce that I have selected a proven public servant – with a superb record of accomplishments – to join me in finishing the job that Sheila and I started.
Today, it is my incredible honor to introduce New Jersey’s next Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State Tahesha Leila Way!
And right off the bat, let me say: there is no better person for the job.
As New Jersey’s Secretary of State, Tahesha has a been a vital member of my administration since day one.
But long before she joined our team, Tahesha had already dedicated every ounce of herself to serving our state’s families.
And what Tahesha has demonstrated—time and again—is that she can handle the single most important responsibility of any Lieutenant Governor. And that is being ready to step in, and serve as Governor, if needed.
She is brilliant. She is battle-tested. And she represents the best of New Jersey.
Tammy and I have had the pleasure of knowing Tahesha—and her husband, Charles—for many years… since well before my time in the Governor’s office.
And let me tell you, she is as wonderful a person as she is a public servant.
Warm, passionate, principled.
And guided by the honest belief that hard work and perseverance can lead you anywhere.
That belief was instilled in Tahesha at a young age by her late parents, who were public servants in their own right, as employees with the New York City Transit Authority. Her Mother was a railroad clerk and her Father was a bus operator.
And over the course of her career, Tahesha has worked day and night to support the millions of New Jerseyans who share her parents’ story. Our neighbors who work long hours, every day, to move our state forward… and who ask for nothing more than a fair shake.
Now, as I mentioned, one of the most important qualities in a Lieutenant Governor is not only having the ability to lead, but having an ample track-record as a leader. Well, that is just one of Tahesha’s many strengths: experience. Like Lieutenant Governor Oliver, she has served at nearly every level of our state’s government.
From the Passaic County Board of Chosen Freeholders, to the New Jersey Highlands Water Protection and Planning Council, and even in our state’s judicial branch—as an Administrative Law Judge.
And during her time as Secretary of State, Tahesha has set a new, high standard for defending democracy… both here in New Jersey, and across the nation.
As President of the National Association of Secretaries of State, Tahesha has inspired election officials across the country to expand access to the ballot box, and ensure that every eligible American can participate in our democratic process.
She has also thrived under the most challenging circumstances you can imagine. In the face of a once-in-a-century pandemic, along with a relentless assault on our democracy, led by a certain former President who will remain unnamed, Tahesha went above and beyond to secure our election system here in New Jersey.
And under her watch, we saw a record number of New Jerseyans vote in the 2020 election. That is an astonishing feat, considering it was the first major election conducted almost entirely by mail.
So Tahesha turned that unprecedented challenge into a critical opportunity. She seized the moment to help more New Jerseyans than ever turn out and exercise their most fundamental right. That is the definition of leadership.
And during that same period, Tahesha also demonstrated her leadership abilities with the 2020 census. As Chair of New Jersey’s Complete Count Commission—a non-partisan body—she worked to ensure that every one of our residents was counted.
Thanks to her efforts, our state retained full representation in Congress, which has had a direct and positive impact on securing federal funding to address our state’s needs.
Tahesha has also done tremendous job in delivering on one of her core responsibilities as Secretary of State. And that is advocating for our state’s cultural and historic treasures—as well as promoting tourism in every region of New Jersey.
In fact, with her team’s help, New Jersey’s tourism industry is expected to generate nearly $48 billion in revenue during this year alone. That is a record-high haul. And our tourism economy is booming, in no small part, because of Tahesha’s leadership.
And that leadership was on full display just a couple weeks ago, when Tahesha joined me in Somerville to settle a long-simmering debate here in the Garden State.
The two of us stood together to declare, once and for all, that Central Jersey exists—period!
So, clearly: Tahesha is not one to shy away from controversial topics. She takes a stand.
And together, our administration will remain laser-focused on our top priorities, from making life more affordable for every New Jerseyan, to defending our fundamental freedoms, to keeping our families and communities safe.
So once again, I am honored to re-introduce Tahesha to the people of New Jersey. And I cannot wait for everyone to get to know her, Charles, and their children: Fallon, Farrah, Faythe, and Fiona.
Now, one little fun fact, for those who may not know: Charles is not just Tahesha’s loving husband, he is also a former Fullback with the New York Giants. But, we may just bring him out of retirement if the press scrums get too crazy! So please—be on your best behavior.
But in all seriousness, please join me in welcoming the third Lieutenant Governor of our great state, Wayne, New Jersey’s very own Tahesha Way!
Lieutenant Governor Tahesha Way :
There are no words that can adequately express what I am feeling at this moment.
But let me start by simply saying: thank you, Governor Murphy. Thank you for placing your trust in me to serve as the third Lieutenant Governor of the greatest state in or nation. And I say that, of course, without an ounce of bias.
And, just as importantly, I would like to thank every single one of our state’s nine-point-three million residents.
You see, ever since I was first elected to public office—as a Freeholder for Passaic County, which I am proud to call my home—I have been on the journey of a lifetime.
In every single position I have held—from my days as a state judge, to my current role as Secretary of State—the people of New Jersey have honored me with the opportunity to serve.
You have placed your faith in me.
And in doing so, you have allowed me to join Governor Murphy in building a stronger, fairer state for every New Jerseyan, especially our neighbors who—like my own, late parents—work every day to keep our state and country moving forward.
And on that note, I would like to take this chance to thank several individuals without whom there would be no me.
First, as I mentioned: my Mother Rosa and Father Robert—who are here with us today in spirit.
They taught me to always work hard. To be tough, yet respectful. And, to just be present as I dedicate myself to enriching my community.
And that is a lesson I am reminded of every day by my husband, Charles, who is here with me today.
Charles, you have always coached me up to be the best version of myself. And you have shared with me the blessing of raising the best four children I could ever ask for.
To Fallon, Farrah, Faythe, and Fiona: I am grateful for many things in this life—but the four of you are the greatest gift of all.
Finally, I want to thank one more person who, like my parents, is here with us in spirit.
And that is our late Lieutenant Governor, Sheila Oliver.
To me, Sheila was more than a trusted colleague. She was a cherished friend, a mentor, and a role model to me and the countless other Black women who have chosen a career in public service.
And now, as Lieutenant Governor, I will have the solemn honor of building upon Sheila’s towering legacy.
So, here is my promise to the people of New Jersey: Like Sheila, I will dedicate every day of my life to fighting for the forgotten families of our state.
I will do everything in my power to bring the down the cost of living, so no parent will have to suffer the indignity of choosing between putting food on the table or keeping a roof over their child’s head.
I will protect our fundamental freedoms—so every resident of our state can make their own health care decisions, or access affordable higher education, or simply, marry who they love and live as who they are in their hearts.
And, of course, I will work to ensure that New Jersey remains the best—and safest—state to raise a family.
Over the past five-plus years, I have had the distinct privilege of serving as New Jersey’s 34th Secretary of State. And my top priority, since day one, has been making our democracy healthy and accessible for all of our residents.
Well, together, we have exceeded our wildest expectations. Together, we inspired a record number of New Jerseyans to turn out and vote—like we saw in the last Presidential election. And, together, we have strengthened our electoral system—and made our democratic process more open to every eligible voter.
So, we have made historic progress – but, our work is far from over.
That is why I am so excited to assume the role of Lieutenant Governor and continue in my role as Secretary of State. I know our greatest accomplishments are yet to come.
So, while today marks a new beginning for the Garden State… we will be guided by the same New Jersey values that have guided us since the very beginning: Freedom. Fairness. And equal justice for all.
Statement from Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin on the Appointment of Tahesha Way as Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey
As Secretary of State, Tahesha Way has been an exemplary public servant, focused on protecting and safeguarding the right to vote and ensuring the integrity of our local, county, state, and federal election contests. And as head of the Department of State, she has overseen the successful 2020 Census, supported small businesses, encouraged our growing film industry, and provided a voice for the arts community. In my longtime friend, Tahesha Way, Governor Murphy has chosen an advocate for all New Jerseyans, and someone who will work tirelessly to make our state stronger, fairer, and safer. I have had the great honor of working alongside Lieutenant Governor Way since 2018, and I know firsthand her belief in the good that government can achieve. And, of course, she will carry on the legacy of Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver, who was a champion for the people of our great state. Congratulations and best wishes to Lieutenant Governor Way, and thank you for your service!
Lieutenant Governor Tahesha Way, Esq.
New Jersey Lieutenant Governor and Secretary of State
Tahesha L. Way serves as New Jersey’s 3rd Lieutenant Governor. She was appointed to the position by Governor Phil Murphy on September 8, 2023.
A lifelong public servant, Lieutenant Governor Way has devoted her entire career to improving the lives of her fellow New Jerseyans. Over the past two decades, she has served at numerous levels of local and state government.
As Lieutenant Governor, Ms. Way brings her extensive experience to bear on addressing the greatest challenges facing New Jerseyans — from making life more affordable, to protecting fundamental freedoms—like access to reproductive health care and equality under the law — to maintaining New Jersey’s reputation as the best and safest state to raise a family.
In addition to her role as Lieutenant Governor, Ms. Way also serves as New Jersey’s 34th Secretary of State — a position she has held since the beginning of the Murphy Administration.
As Secretary of State, Ms. Way leads one of the nation’s oldest constitutional offices and directs a department with a diverse portfolio. In her capacity as New Jersey’s top election official, she has overseen the state Division of Elections and its work in securing our democracy and ensuring broad, fair access to the right to vote. Lieutenant Governor Way also chaired New Jersey’s Complete Count Commission, a 27 member non-partisan commission established to achieve a complete count in the 2020 US Census. In addition to the critical work protecting what Lieutenant Governor Way calls the “fraternal twins of democracy,” she also oversees the state government offices supporting New Jersey’s vibrant arts, culture, history, and business communities. Under her leadership, the state’s tourism economy has generated record-high revenues.
Following her 2022-2023 service as the first Black person and first Secretary from New Jersey to lead the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) as President, Lieutenant Governor Way continues to serve on the NASS Executive Board as Immediate Past President.
Prior to joining the Murphy Administration, Lieutenant Governor Way was an Administrative Law Judge for the State of New Jersey. In 2006, Lieutenant Governor Way was elected to the Passaic County Board of Chosen Freeholders and served as the Freeholder Director in 2009. She served as Special Counsel for the Passaic County Board of Social Services overseeing all agency litigation. She also served as a Council Member for the New Jersey Highlands Water Protection and Planning Council.
She is the former President of the Women Empowered Democratic Organization of Passaic County, an organization dedicated to empowering Democratic women by increasing their participation with the goal of achieving greater equality in the political process. Lieutenant Governor Way also previously served on the Board of Directors for the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, a leading national think tank geared towards advancing dialogue and policy for improving women’s lives and their families.
Lieutenant Governor Way is a graduate of Brown University, where she served as Vice President of the collegiate chapter of the NAACP, President of the Iota Alpha chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. taught religious education, and was a radio announcer for WBRU-FM. She holds a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law at Charlottesville, where she clerked for the Virginia Legal Aid Society and the United Steelworkers of America.
Lieutenant Governor Way lives in Wayne, New Jersey with her husband Charles and their four children Fallon, Farrah, Faythe, and Fiona. She was raised in the Bronx by her late parents, Robert and Rosa Wright, who also devoted their careers to public service as employees with the New York City Transit Authority.
Lieutenant Governor Way has been a member of the New Jersey State Bar Association, Garden State Bar Association, National Association of Women Judges, Association of Black Women Lawyers, Passaic County Bar Association, and the New Jersey Women’s Lawyers Association.