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No. 6: Sheila Oliver

Power 100

Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver in Trenton on March 5 for Gov. Phil Murphy’s 2020 budget address.

As Gov. Phil Murphy’s second-in-command, Oliver has been a reliable ally for the state’s progressive movement. Oliver is an Essex County native and former Assembly Speaker. Her years in the Legislature gives Murphy a key player in whipping votes on important legislative issues, including last year’s budget. Oliver’s presence gives North Jersey interests a statehouse voice at least as powerful as such influential South Jersey players as Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-3rd District, and insurance executive George Norcross.

Oliver was the state’s second African-American Assembly Speaker and the second African-American woman to lead any state Legislature in the U.S. Whenever Murphy leaves the state, as he often does, Oliver takes the helm as Acting Governor.

Meanwhile, the office of the lieutenant governor can be paired with a seat in the governor’s cabinet — Oliver has chosen to lead the Department of Community Affairs.

Among other tasks, the DCA oversees Atlantic City’s local government following a 2016 deal to avert the city’s near-financial collapse. So Oliver has her work cut out for her. While the city may be in the midst of a renaissance following the closure of nearly a dozen of its casinos, the state is keeping the seaside town on a short leash for at least the next few years until its finances are in order.

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