Shanique Speight





Hometown: Newark, NJ

Occupation: Essex County Sheriff Officer

Top 3 Issues: Housing; access to affordable/adequate healthcare); criminal justice reform

Free-time activity: “Spend time with my children. Being that I work full-time and have meetings all the time, I like to spend time with my children and family. And, I like to dance.”

Social Media: Facebook

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My story doesn’t necessarily look like the story of your average legislator. I am running because I want to contribute to the progressive, diversifying look and feel of the New Jersey State Legislature. I believe that who I am and my experiences speak to many underrepresented intersections of society. I am a woman, a wife, a mother of four, and a Sheriff’s Officer from Newark, NJ – a city and community that I believe in and where I continue to raise my family.

My mother was a single parent of four children and she was the first person to show me what public service looked like. Living in low-income housing I grew up around poverty, violence, and homelessness. Growing up, under those circumstances, made me the person I am today. It has always been a norm for me to help those in need. Throughout the years I have created senior feeding programs, provided affordable childcare for families, conducted toy drives, food drives and so much more. This type of giving was instilled in me from childhood and I look forward to giving back by creating change through my work as a legislator.

In terms of positions on various issues, I look forward to opportunities to address the needs of everyday citizens from a place of firsthand experience and a connection with the community. For example, I believe that housing is health! When you don’t have adequate housing it can affect your mental and physical health. I want to continue to work on legislation that will provide access to affordable, adequate housing and healthier homes.

Women’s and maternal health are also pivotal issues that our state continues to face. My mother died from cervical cancer when I was 18 years old. I believe that if she had proper healthcare coverage and support she would still be here today. I want to make sure all women have access to adequate healthcare no matter what they look like or where they’re from. I’m happy that New Jersey has made maternal health a top priority and I want to continue to raise awareness about it. I delivered all four of my children through cesarean deliveries, so I understand what we refer to as disparities in healthcare. The fact that African American mothers die from pregnancy-related issues at almost four times the rate of white women in New Jersey highlights the need to close the racial gap in maternal care. The birth of a child should be a joyful experience in a woman’s life.

I look forward to working towards closing wealth and opportunity gaps in New Jersey by supporting things like affordable childcare, access to affordable higher education, fair and livable wages, progressive change to our criminal justice system, and preservation of SNAP and Medicaid programs for needy families.