N.J.’s new Lt. Gov. Tahesha Way vows to build upon Sheila Oliver’s ‘towering’ legacy

Way is the third-ever lieutenant governor of the Garden State. She succeeds the late Sheila Oliver.

Tahesha Way getting sworn in

Governor Phil Murphy announced Tahesha Way will fill the role as Lieutenant Governor, today in the Governor’s office September 8, 2023 (Rich Hundley III/Governor’s Office)

Tahesha Way took her oath Friday as the new lieutenant governor of New Jersey.

Way was sworn in by state Supreme Court Justice Stuart Rabner, in the presence of three of her four daughters, her mother-in-law, and her husband, Charles Way. She is the third-ever lieutenant governor of the Garden State and will finish up the late Sheila Oliver’s term, who died suddenly from an undisclosed illness on Aug. 1.

During her swearing-in ceremony at the Statehouse, Way praised her predecessor and vowed to build upon Oliver’s “towering legacy.”

“She was a cherished friend, mentor, and a role model to the countless amount of Black women — and women — who have chosen a career in public service,” Way said.

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“Like Sheila, I will dedicate every day to fight for the forgotten families of our state.”

Gov. Phil Murphy said “There is no better person for the job” than Way, and praised her for overseeing a mostly vote-by-mail election during the height of the pandemic in 2020. That same year, she led the 2020 census as chair of the non-partisan Complete Count Commission. Her role in the census count helped New Jersey retain its 12 Congressional seats, “which has had a direct and positive impact on securing federal funding to address our state’s needs,” Murphy said.

Way will continue to serve as Secretary of State.

Murphy also credited Way for boosting the state’s tourism industry. He recalled a recent trip to Somerville to sign a law declaring “Central Jersey exists – period!”, an effort that Way was involved in.

“Clearly, this woman is not one to shy away from controversial topics,” the governor quipped. “She takes a stand.”

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The Brown University graduate holds a law degree from the University of Virginia, where she met her husband, a former fullback for the New York Giants. The couple lives in Wayne, Passaic County, with their four daughters.

Murphy choosing Way to replace Oliver made “enormous sense”, said Micah Rasmussen, director of the Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics at Rider University.

“She is a trusted leader in his cabinet,” he said. “She is someone who has led and leads an executive branch agency, which is one of the requirements of the job.”

Rasmussen said picking Way ensures that Murphy will have no impact on the upcoming Legislative elections in November and the 2025 governor’s race.

“[He’s] not picking somebody who’s on a ballot, who is going to be on a ballot [or] who’s thinking about being on a ballot,” he said. “You don’t want to pick sides, that’s the last thing you want to be doing.”

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