InsiderNJ’s 2019 African American Political Power List in Honor of Black History Month


1.       Cory Booker

Running for President of the United States, the Senator from New Jersey (and former Newark Mayor) has global reach – and may be the next leader of the free world.


2.       Ras Baraka

The Mayor of Newark puts the “strong” in strong mayor form of government. He closed out 2018 telling the wounded President Donald J. Trump not to land at Newark Airport.


3.       John Currie

The Democratic State Party Chairman is one of Governor Phil Murphy’s closest allies and the grand old man of North Jersey Democratic Party politics.

Chairman Jones, left.

4.       Leroy Jones

Chairman of the Essex County Democratic Committee, he stands poised to succeed Currie as chair of the Democratic Party. The question is when.


5.       Sheila Oliver

The Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey (a former speaker of the General Assembly) fills in for Murphy when he’s out of state, and serves as commissioner of the state Department of Community Affairs.

Congressman Payne

6.       Donald Payne, Jr.

The bow tied Congressman from the 10th District hails from one of New Jersey’s most distinguished African-American political families, son of New Jersey’s first African American Congressman, the late U.S. Rep. Donald Payne, Sr.

Watson Coleman

7.       Bonnie Watson Coleman

The 12th District Congresswoman made history in 2015 when she assumed the oath of office as New Jersey’s first African American Congresswoman. A former Democratic State Party chair with a strong and independent progressive record.


8.       Ronald L. Rice

The man no one pushes around, a Marine Corps veteran of Vietnam and veteran member of the New Jersey state Senate, who survived numerous establishment attempts to eject him from power. Chair of the Legislative Black Caucus.

Oliver with longtime slate mate state Senator Nia Gill (D-34).

9.       Nia Gill

The Montclair-based state senator from the 34th District stands atop the New Jersey State Senate as the governing body’s most fearsome inquisitor. 


10.   Troy Singleton

Schooled in the governing arts by former Speaker Joe Roberts, the 7th District state Senator from Willingboro moved quickly up the ranks of the New Jersey Legislature to win a state senate seat in 2017. There’s a lot of buzz about a potential guv run, maybe sooner rather than later.

Senator Sandy Cunningham (D-31) revels as DeGise finds fellow county executive Jim Tedesco of Bergen in the crowd.

11.   Sandy Cunningham

The Jersey City-based state Senator from the 31st District has for years managed to stay on her feet in the internecine nightmare otherwise known as Hudson County politics.


12.   Shirley Turner

The Lawrence-based state Senator from the 15th Legislative District remains one of the senate’s most dignified members, an expert on education issues, an independent Democratic voice, and a champion of government accountability.


13.   Herb Conaway

The most educated member of the legislature is both a medical doctor and an attorney. The 7th District representative chairs the Assembly Health Committee.


14.   Benjie Wimberly

The Assemblyman from the 35th District heads the Paterson Recreation Department, a perch he has used to build considerable power and influence as a coach for future leaders.


15.   Gordon Johnson

The Englewood-based Assemblyman from the 37th District co-chairs the select legislative committee examining how the Economic Development Authority (EDA) receives and distributes funds.


16.   Allen Stephen Potts

The Pastor of Greater Abyssinia Baptist Church welcomed Baraka and Murphy to worship the morning after Democrats destroyed Republicans in the 2018 midterm elections in New Jersey.

Plainfield Mayor Adrian Mapp.

17.   Adrian Mapp

The Mayor of Plainfield easily won reelection in 2017 and commands a strong power base in Union County.


18.   Lamont Repollet

In his first year in office, New Jersey’s Commissioner of Education proved a visible ally of Governor Phil Murphy.

Mary Alice Williams of NJTV, activist Archange Antoine, Peter Woolley of FDU, and Michael Hill of NJTV.

19.   Michael Hill

The reporter and news anchor at NJTV commands respect as one of the best newsmen in New Jersey, aggressive but also elegant.


20.   Derek Armstead

The Mayor of Linden easily won reelection in 2018 despite a strong challenge by the allies of State Senator (and Union County Democratic Committee Chairman) Nick Scutari.

Larry Hamm
Larry Hamm

21.   Larry Hamm

The executive director of the People’s Organization for Progress (POP) commands instantaneous respect in the progressive community of New Jersey as one of the longest-standing frontline advocates for working people and communities of color.


22.   Anthony Cureton

Elected last year to supplant his disgraced predecessor, former NAACP Chapter head Cureton serves as the Sheriff of Bergen County.

23.   Tony Vauss

The no-nonsense Mayor of Irvington won a second term in office last year with a walkover election.

24.   Kenneth Clayton

The pastor of St. Luke Baptist Church in Paterson stands at ground zero of one of New Jersey’s most challenged urban neighborhoods.

Jones, with East Orange mayoral candidate Ted Green.

25.   Ted Green

The Mayor of East Orange cut his professional teeth as a karate instructor. Close to Essex County Democratic Chairman Jones.

Sumter and Baldwin
Sumter and Baldwin

26.   Shavonda Sumter

The politically-grounded Assemblywoman from the 35th District commands a power base in Paterson.


27.   Jamel Holley

The 20th District Assemblyman has deep Trenton institutional roots and is a former Roselle Mayor.

Tahesha Way

28.   Tahesha Way

Secretary of State for the State of New Jersey and former Passaic County Freeholder.

29.   Elnardo Webster, Jr.

Power attorney close to U.S. Senator Booker.

30.   Richard T. Smith

The Trenton native serves as the President of the New Jersey NAACP.

31.   Deborah Davis Ford

The South Orange Village Trustee is running for Village President this year in her hometown.

32.   John Harmon

CEO and President of the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey.


33.   Sean Spiller

Vice President of the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) and Deputy Mayor of Montclair Twp.

34.   Michellene Davis

A veteran of RWJ-Barnabas Health since 2009, Davis is the first person of color to serve as executive vice president in the health system’s history.

35.   John E. Wallace

Former Supreme Court Justice and chair of the Joint Legislative Commission on Ethical Standards.


36.   Jim Johnson

Defeated by Phil Murphy in the 2017 Democratic Primary for Governor, the former U.S. Treasury Undersecretary served as special counsel in the Murphy Administration to review the state’s future involvement in Atlantic City.

Chris James, at right.

37.   Chris James

The former executive director of the Democratic state Committee and 1st Ward East Orange Councilman last year became the local governing body’s president.

38.   James Gee

Watson Coleman’s Chief of Staff is a veteran of statewide politics.

39.   Dana Redd

The former Mayor of Camden is considered a stateswoman in South Jersey political circles.

40.   Mo Butler

The Mercury Partner is Senator Booker’s political guy.

41.   Dwayne Warren

 Mayor of Orange.


42.   Jerell Blakeley

The politically savvy at-large Trenton councilman has a bright future.  

Cooper and Company.

43.   Tai Cooper

The Deputy Chief Policy Advisor in the Murphy Administration has a scintillating record of achievement in government and politics. Vital in Baraka World as the communications point person in one of the most brutal contests of all time.

44.   Sarah Jones

The Director of Government Affairs at Blue Cross/Blue Shield emerged from Payne world to become one of the most dynamic veteran minds in New Jersey politics.

45.   Kathy McBride

City Council President of the Trenton City Council.

46.  Jonathan L. Young, Sr.

Camden County Freeholder.

47. L. Grace Spencer

Superior Court Judge and former Assemblywoman from the 29th District.

48. Andrew Bobbitt

Veteran respected Aide to the Mayor of the City of Trenton.

49. Jeannine Frisby LaRue

Trenton-based power player with Kaufman-Zita.

50. Adam Taliaferro

The Democratic Assemblyman represents the 3rd District.

51. Jiles Ship

President of the North Jersey Chapter of NOBLE.

52. Junius Williams

Legendary Rutgers University Professor and author.

53. Albert B. Kelly

CEO and Founder of Gateway Community Action Partnership.

Brown, left.

54. David Brown

Monmouth County Democratic Chairman.

55. Sam Frisby

Mercer County Freeholder.


56. Levon Putney

Distinguished WCBS 880 Overnight anchor.


57. Robin Vaughn

Vaughn became a citywide hero in Trenton when she picked off troublesome incumbent Zach Chester to grab the West Ward Council seat.


58. Anthony Salters

Veteran, politically savvy chair of the Hillside Democratic Committee.

59. Rick Thigpen

Senior Vice President of Government Affairs for PSE&G; son of the late Essex County Democratic Chairman Phil Thigpen.

Behind-the-Scenes Unity: Deputy Mayor Rahaman Muhammad, At-Large Councilman Luis Quintana, and North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos.

60. Rahaman Muhammed

Deputy Mayor for the City of Newark.

61. Alturrick Kenney

Surrogate for Essex County; close to Newark Mayor Baraka.

Smith, right, with Coughlin.

62. Dan Smith

Senior Advisor to Speaker Craig Coughlin, prized for professionalism.

63. Bill McKoy

The 3rd Ward Councilman from Paterson known for tell-it-like-it-is oratory.

64. Charles Williams

Veteran Essex County Democratic operative; close to LG Sheila Oliver.

65. Sharpe James and John Sharpe James

The inter-generational Newark-tandem consists of the South Ward Councilman and former Newark Mayor.

66. T.J. Best

Passaic County Freeholder; cut his teeth as a staffer for U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell.


67. Ruby Cotton

Paterson 4th Ward Councilwoman. Briefly served as Mayor of Silk City.

68. Cleopatra Tucker

The 28th District Assemblywoman from Newark.

Assemblywoman Angela McKnight (D-31) of Jersey City. An unsuspecting player in the drama.

69. Angela McKnight

Represents Jersey City and Bayonne as the 31st District Assemblywoman.


70. Lilisa Mimms

At-Large Councilwoman from Paterson.

71. Mildred Crump

Longtime At-Large Councilwoman representing Newark.

72. Shanique Speight

Newark Central Ward-based Assemblywoman from the 29th District.

73. Tency Eason

The veteran Orange Councilwoman represents the North Ward.

74. Wayne Richardson

Respected Essex County Freeholder.

Reynolds Jackson

75. Verlina Reynolds Jackson

Assemblywoman from Trenton representing the 15th Legislative District.


76. Linda Carter

Energetic Plainfield-based Assemblywoman representing the 22nd Legislative District.

77. Britnee Timberlake

34th District Assemblywoman from East Orange; former President of the Essex County Freeholder Board.


78. Ken Armwood

Dynamic Middlesex County Freeholder from Piscataway; former football star turned politico.

Winn Khuong and Assemblywoman Mila Jasey

79. Mila Jasey

Assemblywoman representing the 27th District.

80. Eddie Osborne

At-Large Newark City Councilman; labor leader with LIUNA.

81. Kenyatta Stewart

Highly respected and politically connected attorney from Paterson.

82. Joyce Watterman

Councilwoman at-large representing Jersey City.


83. Angela Garretson

Union County Freeholder and former Mayor of Hillside.

84. Joe MacCallum

West Ward Councilman representing the City of Newark.

85.   Frank Gilliam, Jr.

The Mayor of Atlantic City struggled early in his tenure to find his footing amid a blizzard of damaging headlines.

86.   Lamonica McIver

Central Ward Councilwoman representing the City of Newark.

87.    Andrea Staten

Union County Freeholder.

Johnson, Green, James.

88. Rufus Johnson

Essex County Freeholder; close to Senator Rice.

89. Rhashonna Cosby

Linden Councilwoman and 2018 candidate for Mayor.

90. Donna K. Williams

Dynamic Orange Councilwoman.

Shanel Robinson.

91. Shanel Robinson

The former Franklin Twp. Councilwoman made history in 2018 as the leader of the Democratic Freeholder ticket that broke the GOP chokehold on county government.

Plainfield Council President Rebecca Williams.

92. Rebecca Williams

Union County Freeholder; former Council President in Plainfield and a New Democratic Party leader.


93. Dahlia Vertreese

Labor leader with the Operating Engineers and the Mayor of Hillside.

94. Gerry Gibbs

Principal at Capital Impact Group.

95. Marty Small

Atlantic City Councilman and former Mayoral candidate.

96. Mike Jackson

Paterson Councilman representing the 1st Ward.

Miller, left, with Robinson.

97. Keiona Miller

North Plainfield Councilwoman. Organizes the annual North Plainfield Community Black History Month Celebration.

98. Frank Minor

The veteran Mayor of Logan Twp.

99. Ernest D. Coursey

Atlantic County Freeholder.

100. Gerry and Missy Balmir

One-two-punch Democratic Party operatives.

101. Kimberly Francois

Veteran Franklin Twp. Councilwoman.

102. Elton Armady

City of Plainfield Councilman.


David Sims

David Lyons

Mildred Scott

Fruqan Mouzon

Buster Soaries

Jay Redd

Derel Stroud

Denise Ridley

Albert Kelly

Danielle Imhof

Brandon Givens

Hiver Ambroise

Lisa Ormon

Davon McCurry

Donald Shaw

Archange Antoine

Jeff Booker

Tara Dowdell

Jane Warren Williams

Ashley Bennett

Braxton Plummer

Joe Carter

Michael Johnson 

Steffi Bartley

Robert Artis

Rev. Lanel D. Guyton

Diane Tolliver

Steve Hockaday

Jamila Odom Garnett

Barry Goode

Ashley Davis

Sherwood Goodenough

Charles McRae

Gregory Good

Tamara Harris

Tanzie Youngblood

Joylette Mills-Ramson

Buster Soaries

Thomas Little

Della Crews

Marie Guervil

Demetrius Terry

Doug Palmer

David Lyons

Patricia Perkins-Auguste

William Gallman, Jr.

Steve Hockaday

Tony Gee

Eric Jackson

Middy Baraka

Monique Baptiste

Reginald Bledsoe

Basil Parker

Marques-Akil Lewis

Brandon McKoy

Tracey L. Brown

Dianna Houenou

Mike Bland

Eric “Citizen” Payne

Kyle Darby

Randal Pinkett

Jason Redd

Mike Wallace

Eddie Cotton

Emanuel Capers

Andre Speight

Petra Gaskins

Kerry Coley

Naima Ricks

Ernie Rucker

Corey Teague

Christopher Jackson

George Dredden

Jamie Summers-Johnson

Bill Payne, Sr.

Jeff Dublin

Sakeema James

Ayinde Martin

Khahil Chaneyfield Nass

Adrienne Wooten

Garry Williams

Shante Palmer

Eldridge Hawkins, Jr.

John Campbell

Chris Irving

Harold Johnson, Jr.

Zelli Imani

Sherwood Goodenough

Shavar Jeffries

Jonathan Hodges

Lester Taylor

Jeff Jones

Al Spivey

Ingrid Hill

Sharon Robinson-Briggs

Jason Solowsky

Jon Evans

John Amos

Lisa Jackson

Denise Coleman

Safanya Searcy

Jethro James

Selika Josiah

Ronald C. Rice

Ronald Slaughter

Ken Gibson

Lucy Edmund

Kason Little

Susan Hairston

Kim Dehaarte

Marilyn Davis

Samantha Gordon

Reverend John Givens

Lizbeth Davies

Jason Grove

Keith Jones

Ken Morris, Jr.

Tennille McCoy

Lynn Haynes

Regena Thomas

Ashton Burrell

Kason Little

Jude Ezeh

Regina Appolon

Crystal Pruitt

Michael Johnson

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