TRENTON — New Jersey’s first African American congresswoman departed the statehouse today amid showers of well-wishing and applause, as Assembly members during their session stood to thank outgoing U.S. Rep.-elect Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-12) for her years of service in the legislature.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle praised the Democrat, a former Assembly Majority Leader and Democratic State Chairwoman, for her mentoring and leadership.
“A couple words come to mind,” said Assemblyman Thomas Giblin (D-34). “I think of the word role model, in terms of what a public servant should be… you’re the high standard.”
“Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, John Watson is looking down, I know he his proud this day,” said state Sen. Ron Rice (D-28), referring Watson Coleman’s father, also a former member of the Assembly.
Rice, representing the Senate’s black caucus, also emphasized Watson Coleman’s responsibility as the state’s first African American congresswoman.
“Even though you are the congresswoman of one district, African American men and women across the state are relying on you,” he said. “That is a heavy burden.”
Other Assembly members who offered their thanks included Assemblywoman Valerie Huttle (D-34), Assemblywoman Mila Jasey (D-27), Assemblyman Wayne D’Angelo (D-14), Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald (D-6), Assemblywoman Alison McHose (R-24), and Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver (D-34), New Jersey’s first African American female Assemblywoman.
“Bonnie Watson Coleman has challenged life and will continue to challenge life in the halls of congress,” Oliver said.
Watson Coleman will join the incoming congressional class in January, after winning Nov. 4th’s election in the 15th congressional district against Republican Alieta Eck. Her departure has already created waves in the legislature as Democratic leaders in LD15 search for her replacement.
She was joined today by her husband, Reverend William Coleman.
“I am telling you that the greatest gift God has given you is the ability to give back some of those blessings you receive,” Watson Coleman said, thanking the support.