(TRENTON) – Assembly Speaker Sheila Y. Oliver (D-Essex/Passaic) released the following statement on the passing of U.S. Rep. Donald M. Payne:
“Today is a truly sad day for America and our great state.
“We have lost a trailblazer, and we have lost a friend.
“I have known Donald Payne for most of my life. He has always been a role model to me, and I will never forget his historic victory that made him New Jersey’s first African-American elected to Congress. His dedication to his constituent and all Americans was unwavering. He was a leader in every sense of the word.
“Congressman Payne’s work was exemplary in so many ways. He was a tireless advocate for public education and affordable college. He was a champion for working families. He was a defender of freedom and human rights. His work on global affairs was an example of his compassion.
“He was everything one would want from a Congressman, and then some.
“I will miss my Congressman and friend, as will all of New Jersey. On behalf of the New Jersey General Assembly, I send my condolences to Congressman Payne’s family. Our thoughts and prayers are with them at their time of grief.”