Diversity expected to be a side issue during Assembly budget hearings

TRENTON – State commissioners who fail to surround themselves with a diverse staff are on notice.

Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, (D-15), Trenton, says she will likely call out other state officials who do not employ a staff that represents New Jersey’s diverse population. The Assembly Budget Committee member says women and minorities should not be underrepresented in state departments, particularly at levels where public policy is crafted.

“It’s probably a question I’m going to be asking if given the opportunity,” Coleman said.

Her statement comes after Coleman criticized the state treasurer Wednesday during an Assembly budget hearing.

Coleman claimed that state Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff failed to hire a diverse group of administrators. She criticized him for not having a work force that reflects the state’s diverse population.

“It just sort of struck me in this instance when I saw all the staff people come in and I didn’t see a representation of what I believe is the work force (in New Jersey),” she said, explaining what prompted her to question Sidamon-Eristoff about his staff.

“I don’t think this whole administration thinks about it,” Coleman said. “We need to be reminding this administration that it has a responsibility to seek a work force that is representative of the people.”

Coleman said women and minorities need to be at the same table with state commissioners because the department leaders “set the tone and create the environment” in the state.

Three state commissioners are slated to testify before the Assembly Budget Committee on the fiscal year 2013 budget next week.

Related Story:

Treasurer takes heat over lack of diversity