New Jersey Secretary of State Tahesha L. Way was sworn in as the state’s third lieutenant governor this morning, assuming the role left vacant by Sheila Oliver who died on Aug. 1. Way, who has been with the Murphy administration since 2018, said that Oliver was a role model and mentor and that she will build upon her towering legacy.
“I submit this promise to the people of New Jersey that, like Sheila, I will dedicate every day to fighting for the forgotten families of our state,” Way said. “I will do everything to ensure no parent will have to suffer the indignity between choosing to put food on the table or keeping a roof over their child’s head. I will protect our fundamental freedoms so that every resident of our state can make their own healthcare decisions, can access affordable higher education, marry who they love, and live as who they are in their hearts. … Of course, I will make certain New Jersey remains the best and safest state to raise a family.”
In introducing Way, Gov. Phil Murphy said there is “no better person for the job.”
“Tahesha has been a vital member of our administration since Day one,” Murphy said. “She has dedicated every ounce of herself to serving our state’s families. She has demonstrated that she can handle the single and most important responsibility of any lieutenant governor; being ready to step in and serve as governor if needed. Tahesha is brilliant and battle-tested and represents the very best of New Jersey.”
Way brings years of public service experience to the role of lieutenant governor. As secretary of state, a role that she will maintain, Way serves as New Jersey’s top election official, overseeing the state Division of Elections. She also oversees the state government offices supporting New Jersey’s arts, culture, history, and business communities.
Way chaired New Jersey’s Complete Count Commission, a 27-member, non-partisan commission established to achieve a complete count in the 2020 US Census. She was also the first Black person and first secretary of state from New Jersey to lead the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) as president from 2022-2023.
Prior to becoming secretary of state, Way was an administrative law judge for the State of New Jersey. In 2006, she 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. She also previously served on the board of directors for the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, a leading national think tank geared toward advancing dialogue and policy for improving women’s lives and their families.
With this experience, Murphy said Way has an ample track record as a leader, adding, “During her time as secretary of state, Tahesha has set a new and high standard for defending democracy in New Jersey and across the nation as president of the NASS. She has inspired election officials from across the country to expand access to the ballot box and to ensure that every eligible American participates in our democratic process.
“Tahesha thrived in that position in the face of a once-in-a-century pandemic, along with a relentless assault on our democracy. She went above and beyond [her duties] to secure our election system in New Jersey. Under her watch, we saw a record number of New Jerseyans vote in the 2020 election; the first major election conducted almost entirely by mail. She turned that challenge into an opportunity,” Murphy said.
Way is a graduate of Brown University, where she served as vice president of the collegiate chapter of the NAACP, and president of her Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. She holds a juris doctor 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. She 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.
She lives in Wayne with her husband Charles, a former New York Giants player and NFL executive, and their four daughters.
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