InsiderNJ’s 2022 African American Power List in Honor of Black History Month

Chairman Jones


  1. Cory Booker

New Jersey’s junior senator remains a contender for the presidency.

  1. Fabiana Pierre-Louis

Became the first African American woman in the state of New Jersey to become an associate justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court.


3. LeRoy Jones

The Democratic State Party Chairman continues to demonstrate leadership of his party, standing up to South Jersey power brokers and owning this year’s legislative redistricting process. Essex – where Jones also serves as county chairman – last year gave incumbent Governor Phil Murphy his biggest vote totals.

4. 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. As Acting Governor, Oliver proved a steady hand in the scary early days of the COVID-19 crisis.

5. Ras Baraka

The Mayor of Newark proved his leadership chops through the COVID-19 crisis. Close to the Governor, and aided by his brother, Chief off Staff Middy Baraka (see honorable mention) he submitted petitions this week to run for a third term. Possible future gubernatorial contender.

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.


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, Watson Coleman keeps her own counsel and makes her own political moves. A survivor and a fighter.

Senator Ronald L. Rice (D-28) nixed 'Freeholder.'

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, Senator Rice survived numerous establishment attempts to eject him from power. Former chair of the Legislative Black Caucus, Rice routinely gives voice – at personal and political cost – to the voiceless of New Jersey.

Singleton of Burlington

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. He’s the point man in the legislature to ensure safe and clean drinking water for New Jersey.

11. Britnee Timberlake

The tough-minded, socially conscious 34th District Assemblywoman from East Orange and former President of the Essex County Freeholder Board, is poised to run for the senate seat in the newly redrawn 34th.

Senator Gill

12. 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. But her opposition to party power – and notably her bad relations with Chairman Jones – put her on a collision course with a bad redistricting outcome. She’s ready to run for reelection off the line, but she would not be the favorite in a primary with former Governor Dick Codey.


13. 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.


14. 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.

Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly says he will support a millionaire's tax if it is posted for a vote, but he doesn't see enough support in the caucus for such a bill to pass.

15. 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. A future Congressman, state senator, or Governor.

16. 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.

17. Gordon Johnson

The Englewood-based Senator from the 37th District easily won last year’s Democratic Primary and general election.


18. Tony Vauss

The no-nonsense Mayor of Irvington won a second term in office in 2018 with a walkover election, and this year seeks a third term with his allies, otherwise known as Team Irvington Strong.


19. John Currie

The long-time Passaic County Democratic Committee Chairman served eight years with distinction as the chair of the Democratic State Committee.

20. Michael Hill

The longtime reporter and news anchor at NJTV –  now the new Host of Morning Edition at WNYC – commands respect as one of the best newsmen in New Jersey. Aggressive but also elegant. Deep Newark family roots.


21. Derek Armstead

The Mayor of Linden easily won reelection in 2018 despite a strong challenge by the allies of Union County Democratic Committee Chairman Nick Scutari – now state Senate President. He continues to harry Scutari in a local political fight that long ago rose above the pushing and shoving stage.


22. Marty Small

Mayor of Atlantic City, Small last year won his first, four-year term as leader of the South Jersey seaside gambling mecca.

Larry Hamm

23. 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.

24. Anthony Cureton

Elected in 2018 to supplant his disgraced predecessor, former NAACP Chapter head Cureton serves as the Sheriff of Bergen County.

25. 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.

26. Shavonda Sumter

The politically-grounded Assemblywoman from the 35th District commands a power base in Paterson. Close to Chairman Currie. Chair of the Legislative Black Caucus.

27. Bill Payne, Sr.

Deputy Chief of Staff to Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo the former Assemblyman is the patriarch of the Newark-based Payne family. Brother of the late U.S. Rep. Donald Payne, and father of actor Eric Payne, he is the author (along with his nephew former Assemblyman Craig Stanley) of legislation that created the New Jersey Amistad Commission.

28. Mila Jasey

Assemblywoman from South Orange now representing the 28th District.

29. Angela McKnight

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

30. Verlina Reynolds Jackson

Assemblywoman from Trenton representing the 15th Legislative District.

31. Linda Carter: Energetic Plainfield-based Assemblywoman representing the 22nd Legislative District.

32. Shanique Speight

Newark Central Ward-based Assemblywoman from the 29th District. A people-centered advocate.

33. Ted Green

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

34. Adrian Mapp

The Mayor of Plainfield won reelection by a close margin in 2021 and commands a strong power base in Union County.

35. Charles Boyer

Pastor at Greater Mount Zion AME, and the founder of Salvation and Social Justice, a nonpartisan Black faith-rooted organization.

36. Richard T. Smith

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

Antwan McClellan of Ocean City.

37. Antwan McClellan

The former Ocean City Councilman now serves as the legislature’s only sitting African-American Republican Assemblyman in the state of New Jersey.

38. Jonathan M. Sammons

Republican Sheriff of Gloucester County; beat the Democratic Party machine in 2021.


39. Middy Baraka

Brother and Chief-of-Staff of Newark Mayor Ras Baraka.

40. Mildred Scott

The Sheriff of Middlesex County.

41. Sean Spiller

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

42. 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.

43. John E. Wallace

Former Supreme Court Justice and chair of the Joint Legislative Commission on Ethical Standards, Judge Wallace served as the tiebreaking 11th member of the Congressional Redistricting Commission.

44. Mo Butler

Partner at Mercury. Point man for Senator Booker.

45. Victor Carstarphen

Mayor of Camden.

46. Curtis Jenkins

Camden Councilman and longtime Laborers union leader.

47. Chris James

The former executive director of the Democratic state Committee and 1st Ward East Orange Council president.


48. Shanel Robinson

The former Franklin Twp. Councilwoman made history in 2018 as the leader of the Democratic Board of Commissioners ticket that broke the GOP chokehold on county government. Chair of the Somerset County Commissioners Board.

49. Kaleem Shabazz

Atlantic City NAACP president and Ward 3 council for Atlantic City.

50. Gilbert “Whip” Wilson

Camden County Sheriff.

51. Dwayne Warren

Mayor of Orange.

52. TJ Best

The only African-American on the Passaic County Board of Commissioners easily won reelection last year.

53. Tai Cooper

A former Deputy Chief Policy Advisor in the Murphy Administration, Cooper serves on the senior leadership team of the state Economic Development Authority (EDA).

54. 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.

55. William Spearman

Fifth District Democratic Assemblyman.

56. Jonathan L. Young, Sr.

Camden County Commissioner.

57. L. Grace Spencer

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

58. Stephenine Dixon

Top Democratic Party Operative based in Atlantic County.

Jeannine LaRue

59. Jeannine Frisby LaRue

Trenton-based power player with Kaufman-Zita.

60. Jiles Ship

President of the North Jersey Chapter of NOBLE.

61. Rebecca Williams

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

62. Tahesha Way

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

63. Junius Williams

Legendary Rutgers University Professor and author.

64. Albert B. Kelly

CEO and Founder of Gateway Community Action Partnership.

Commissioner Walker.

65. Jerry Walker

Hudson County Commissioner. Former Seton Hal basketball star.

66. David Brown

Monmouth County Democratic Chairman.

67. Sam Frisby

Mercer County Commissioner.

68. Elton Custis

Camden School Board Member undertook a gutsy run 2021 run for mayor against the vaunted Camden County Democratic Machine with the help of key ally Amir Khan (see honorable mention).

69. Anthony Salters

Veteran, politically savvy chair of the Hillside Democratic Committee.

70. Rick Thigpen

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

71. Rahaman Muhammed

Deputy Mayor for the City of Newark.

72. Alturrick Kenney

Surrogate for Essex County; close to Newark Mayor Baraka.

Sources are saying that Newark Central Ward Councilwoman Lamonica McIver, a political ally of Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, would not openly challenge U.S. Rep. Donald Payne for his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. However, she may consider running should he retire.

73. Lamonica McIver

Central Ward Newark Councilwoman.


74. Imani Oakley

Progressive candidate for Congress in the Newark-based 10th District.

75. Pat Council

Respected head of the Newark Recreation Department, Reverend Council occupies the Baraka Ticket this year as council candidate of the politically foundational South Ward.

76. Ernest Coursey

Veteran Atlantic County Commissioner.

77. Ruby Cotton

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

Gill, left, with Assemblywoman Cleo Tucker.

78. Cleopatra Tucker

The 28th District Assemblywoman from Newark.

79. Lilisa Mimms

At-Large Councilwoman from Paterson.


80. Charlene Walker

Executive Director of Faith in New Jersey; a vital voice during the redistricting process.

81. Fatima Heyward

President of the New Jersey Young Democrats.

82. Wayne Richardson

Respected Essex County Commission President.

Doitall Kelly.

83. DoItAll Kelly

Rapper and community activist running on Team Baraka as a candidate for the Newark West Ward Council seat.

84. Mamie Bridgeforth

Former Newark West Ward Councilwoman.

Chigozie Onyema

85. Chigozie Onyema

Attorney and community activist, running for as a candidate for the Newark West Ward Council seat.

86. Denise Ridley

Jersey City Councilwoman.

87. Angela Garretson

Union County Commissioner and former Mayor of Hillside. Spearheaded the 2020 movement to abolish the term “freeholder.”

88. Donna Pearson

Cumberland County Commissioner. Won against the odds in 2020.

89. Louise Rountree

Newark City Council at-large candidate affiliated with Team Baraka.

90. Larry Crump

Newark At-Large Councilman, son of Mildred Crump, running on the Baraka Team to secure a four-year term.

91. Patricia Perkins-Auguste

Veteran Elizabeth Councilwoman.

92. Rufus Johnson

Essex County Commissioner; close to Senator Rice.

93. Tyshammie Cooper

Essex County Commissioner.

94. Felicia Hopson

Burlington County Commissioner.

95. Dahlia Vertreese

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

96. Gerry Gibbs

Principal at Capital Impact Group.

97. Romaine Graham

Essex County Commissioner.

98. Keiona Miller

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

99. Frank Minor

The veteran Mayor of Logan Twp.

100. Gerry and Missy Balmir

One-two-punch Democratic Party operatives.


Eunice K. Dwumfour

Norman Deen Muhammad

Angelica Allen-McMillan

John Harmon

Charles Williams

Levon Putney

Amir Khan

Eddie Osborne

Mike Jackson

Ralph Hunter

Tormel Pittman

Loretta Winters

Crystal Charley-Sibley

Yolanda Melville

LaDaena Thomas

Rhashonna Cosby

William “Bill” Davis

James Gee

Tency Eason

Vanessa Falco

Craig Callaway

Terrance L. Bankston

Lyndon Brown

Kimberly Francois

Crystal Pruitt

Oscar James II

Jamillah Beasley

Elton Armady

David Sims

Fruqan Mouzon

Buster Soaries

Jay Redd

Kenyatta Stewart

Derel Stroud

Danielle Imhof

Brandon Givens

Hiver Ambroise

Lisa Ormon

Davon McCurry

Donald Shaw

Renee Burgess

Orlander Vick

Vern Cox

Archange Antoine

Jeff Booker

Tara Dowdell

Jane Warren Williams

Braxton Plummer

Joe Carter

Michael Johnson

Mohamed Jalloh

Tina Jalloh

Steffi Bartley

Robert Artis

Al-tariq Ibn Shabazz

Rev. Lanel D. Guyton

Diane Tolliver

Jamila Odom Garnett

Mason Robinson

Marqweesha Guthrie

Donnetta Bishop-Johnson

Alexander Bland

Andrew Bobbitt

Barry Goode

Ashley Davis

Charles McRae

Gregory Good

Tamara Harris

Tanzie Youngblood

Joylette Mills-Ramson

Thomas Little

Della Crews

Marie Guervil

Demetrius Terry

Doug Palmer

William Gallman, Jr.

Steve Hockaday

Eric Jackson

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

Will Cunningham

John Francis

Renee Baskerville

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

Allen Stephen Potts

Sherwood Goodenough

Shavar Jeffries

Jonathan Hodges

Lester Taylor

Jeff Jones

Al Spivey

Ingrid Hill

Shaheed Morris

Sharon Robinson-Briggs

Jason Solowsky

Jon Evans

Elnardo Webster

John Amos

Lisa Jackson

Denise Coleman

Safanya Searcy

Jethro James

Selika Josiah Talbott

Ronald C. Rice

Vernon Richardson

Ronald Slaughter

Ashley Bennett

Lucy Edmund

Kason Little

Susan Hairston

Kim Dehaarte

Marilyn Davis

Samantha Gordon

Reverend John Givens

Lizbeth Davies

Lynda Gallashaw

Jim Johnson

Jason Grove

Keith Jones

Ken Morris, Jr.

Kathy McBride

Tennille McCoy

Lynn Haynes

Regena Thomas

Ashton Burrell

Jude Ezeh

Justis Brown

Regina Appolon

Michael Johnson

Robin Vaughn

Deborah Davis

Eddie Glaude

Edina Brown

Adam Taliaferro

Jamel Holley

Durwood Pinkett

Sharpe James

John Sharpe James

Gayle Chaneyfield Jenkins

Justis Brown

Lee Clark



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6 responses to “InsiderNJ’s 2022 African American Power List in Honor of Black History Month”

  1. How is Judge Grant… not on this list? (Judge) Administrative Director of the N.J. Courts, Glenn A. Grant who was appointed by Chief Justice Stuart Rabner effective September 1, 2008….A judge of the Appellate Division of Superior Court, Judge Grant had served as the presiding judge of the family division in Essex Vicinage from 2003 until the time of his appointment. He was named to the Superior Court bench in 1998. In addition to his work in the family division, Judge Grant served as the acting chief judge of the Newark Municipal Court from 2002 to 2003…
    Prior to his judicial career, Judge Grant served as the business administrator for the City of Newark from 1992 to 1998, as corporation counsel for the City of Newark from 1986 to 1992 and assistant corporation counsel from 1979 to 1986….

    While on the bench, Judge Grant served as the chair of the Conference of Presiding Judges—Family Division from 2007 to 2008, and as chair of the Conference’s Children in Court Committee from 2005 to 2007.

    Judge Grant received a Bachelor of Arts degree in government from Lehigh University in 1975, and a Juris Doctor degree from Catholic University in 1978. He also earned a certificate in senior executive management from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in 1991. He and his wife, Newark Municipal Court Judge Roslyn Holmes Grant, have two children, Taylor and Glenn.

  2. Sayreville Councilwoman Eunice K. Dwumfour
    First African American and African American woman elected in the Borough’s history. The Newark native is a long time community advocate and I believe deserves at least an honorable mention.

  3. How is Joyce Watterman – Council President for Jersey City not on this list? She is the 1st African American Woman to be Council President for Jersey City.

  4. Useless negros who sold each other out to the white racist in NJ who use these black folks for a vote. They are desperate to be mentioned yet they’ve done nothing but persecute their own people. Slave mentality


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