New Jersey inaugurated its first lieutenant governor, Kim Guadagno, yesterday but that was just one of a few firsts this year for women in state government.
While the spotlight may be on the state’s executive branch now, women made strides in the state’s legislature also. Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver, D-Essex, took office last Tuesday to become the state’s first black female and second overall female speaker of the Assembly, while Rutgers School of Law-Camden graduate Senator Barbara Buono, D-Middlesex, rose to a position as the legislative body’s majority speaker.
“To have women in such significant leadership roles really marks a change in politics in the state of New Jersey,” said Debbie Walsh, director of the Center for American Women and Politics at the Eagleton Institute of Politics.
The state now ranks 16th in the nation in terms of the percentage of women serving in state legislature, she said.