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Rice Re-Elected as Chair; Watson Coleman, Green Elected as Vice Chairs

TRENTON – Today, the New Jersey Legislative Black Caucus held its regular reorganization meeting to select its leadership team for the 2014-2015 Legislative Session, and chose to re-elect Senator Ronald L. Rice as Caucus Chairperson. Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-Mercer, and Assemblyman Jerry Green, D-Union, Middlesex and Somerset, were elected as Vice Chairs.

In addition to the top three leadership positions, Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter, D-Passaic and Bergen, was elected to serve as Secretary, Assemblyman Herb Conaway, D-Burlington, was re-elected to serve as Treasurer, and Assemblyman Gordon Johnson, D-Bergen, was elected to serve as Sergeant-at-Arms.

“I am honored to have the support of my fellow caucus members, and look forward to continuing to advocate on behalf of minorities in New Jersey. We know we are facing challenges on several fronts. This will be a tough budget year and the caucus will work to ensure that minority and underserved populations are not left behind as we craft a state spending plan for the coming fiscal year,” said Senator Rice, D-Essex. “We will also tackle policies that directly impact minority communities, which the caucus will lay out following our annual retreat.”

“The Legislative Black Caucus has also been engaged in monitoring a number of incidents that have faced racial minorities in the state, and we will continue to closely monitor their progress to ensure that appropriate action is taken and that our residents are treated fairly under the law. That includes the most recent incident involving students at Phillipsburg High School,” added Senator Rice. “We understand that actions are being taken by the school district, and that an additional investigation by the Division on Civil Rights is possible. We will continue to follow how this case proceeds. If, in fact, an investigation finds that discriminatory practices took place we will ask that strict penalties be assessed. It is important that our young people understand the severity of their actions and the emotional affects they can cause. In that same regard, we must create environments in our schools and communities that foster understanding and respect. That is something we must work on as a state, and an effort that is so important to this caucus.”

The Legislative Black Caucus reorganization was held today at noon in the Statehouse. Senator Rice said that the next order of business for the LBC will be to conduct the annual retreat, in which Caucus members discuss legislative issues and concerns impacting the African American constituency base and taxpayers in general. Following the annual retreat, the Caucus will hold its annual Chairman’s message, in which the priorities and policy ideas of the Caucus are laid out for the new legislative session.

In addition to the Caucus officers, members of the Legislative Black Caucus – and their respective Caucus Subcommittee assignments – are as follows: Senator Sandra Bolden Cunningham, D-Hudson, Chair of Labor and Transportation Subcommittee; Senate President Pro Temp Nia H. Gill, D-Essex and Passaic; Senator Shirley K. Turner, D-Mercer and Hunterdon, Chair of the Appropriation and Budget Subcommittee; Assemblywoman Mila Jasey, D-Essex and Morris, Chair of Education Subcommittee; Assemblyman Charles Mainor, D-Hudson, Chair of the Community, Consumer and Commerce Affairs Committee; Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver, D-Essex and Passaic; Assemblyman Troy Singleton, D-Burlington; Assemblywoman L. Grace Spencer, D-Essex, Chair of Judiciary Subcommittee; Assemblywoman Cleopatra Tucker, D-Essex, Chair of Health, Human Services and Senior Affairs Subcommittee; Assemblyman Gilbert “Whip” Wilson, D-Camden; and Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly, D-Passaic and Bergen, Chair of Faith Based & Cultural Affairs Committee. In addition to his officer duties, Assemblyman Johnson serves as chair of the Law & Public Safety/Veterans Affairs Committee.