Lt. Governor of New Jersey Sheila Oliver dies after undisclosed medical issue

New Jersey Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, who was serving as acting governor while Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy is out of the state, has died after being taken to a hospital for an undisclosed medical issue.

Oliver, 71, was taken to Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston and was unable to carry out the duties of acting governor, Murphy’s spokesperson Mahen Gunaratna said in a statement Monday. Under the state constitution, Democratic Senate President Nicholas Scutari was serving as acting governor.

Her family released the following statement on Tuesday afternoon:

“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. She was not only a distinguished public servant but also our cherished daughter, sister, aunt, friend, and hero. As we come to terms with this profound loss, we kindly request that you respect the privacy of the Oliver family during this difficult time as they grieve their beloved Sheila. Sheila Y. Oliver leaves behind a legacy of dedication, service, and inspiration. We will remember her commitment to the people of New Jersey and her tireless efforts to uplift the community. Further information and details regarding memorial arrangements will be provided in due course. Until then, we appreciate your understanding and support. May her memory be a source of comfort and strength to all who knew her.”

Oliver, a Democrat, has served as the state’s second lieutenant governor since 2018. She concurrently serves as the head of the Department of Community Affairs, which coordinates state aid to towns and cities and oversees code enforcement.

In 2010, she became the first African-American woman to serve as speaker of the state Assembly in the state’s history.