DOT commissioner more prepared for question about diversity

TRENTON – As promised, diversity was a topic today during the Assembly’s Budget Committee hearing.

Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, (D-15) Ewing, took a moment during her questioning of the state’s Department of Transportation commissioner to inquire about the number of women and minorities employed by the administration.

Coleman said last week she expected to ask other state commissioners the question that she first posed to the state Treasurer late last month. Women and minorities should not be underrepresented in state departments, particularly at levels where public policy is crafted, she said.

“I would really like … the racial and ethnic, and gender breakdown of the people in your department making policy (decisions),” Coleman said to DOT Commissioner James Simpson today.

“We only have 12 senior leadership positions and I’ve only had the opportunity to hire four people,” Simpson responded, adding two of his hires were minorities.

Simpson gave a rough description of the number of minorities in his office, but added he will provide the lawmaker with a complete breakdown at a later date.

Coleman also asked for the number of contracts the DOT has with companies owned and operated by minorities and women.

Simpson said he would research Coleman’s request and report back to her.

State Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff was caught largely off guard when Coleman first posed the question about hiring minorities during his March 28 hearing before the Assembly.

Coleman later said the administration “has a responsibility to seek a work force that is representative of the people” of New Jersey.

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