NJ Assembly 28th District Candidate Profile: Cleopatra Tucker

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Three Democratic candidates are vying for two seats to represent New Jersey’s 28th Legislative District in the New Jersey Assembly: Cleopatra Tucker, incumbent; Garnet Hall; and Frank McGehee. Two candidates — Joy Freeman and Willie S. Jetti — are running in the Republican primary. The primary takes place on June 6, 2023. Read more election coverage here. 


Cleopatra G. Tucker is 16-year veteran of the New Jersey General Assembly seeking her 9th term representing the newly redistricted 28th Legislative District, which now includes South Orange, Maplewood, Newark’s West and South Wards and Hillside. She is Chair of the Assembly Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee and a member of the Human Services and Telecommunications Utilities.  

Assemblywoman Tucker has lived in Newark for more than 60 years and is a mother and grandmother. Her late husband, Donald Tucker, remains the longest serving member of the Newark City Council and also served in the Assembly prior to his death in 2005. Her running mate, the recently deceased Senator Ronald L. Rice is a legend of the City of Newark and the West Ward.     

The Assemblywoman is currently a full-time legislator; prior to her election in 2002 she served as a non-profit director and worked as a case manager for the Newark Housing Authority for more than 30 years. 

Cleopatra G. Tucker

Ms. Tucker fully supports reproductive freedom of choice for all New Jerseyan residents and unqualified access to services through Medicaid expansion, required insurance company coverage and expanded scope of practice to include physicians’ assistants, midwives, and advanced practice nurses.

She believes racial and economic justice can be attained only when people of every race receive fair treatment with equitable opportunities and outcomes for all, and that disparate treatment of minorities in education, housing and entitlements is the reality of institutional racism. Born in Birmingham, Alabama in the 1940s, she has experienced racial segregation and voter suppression first-hand. 

The Assemblywoman believes climate change is an existential threat to our way of life, and we have an obligation to future generations to protect and preserve our land, air and water. She supports the Energy Master Plan reducing greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050, voted for the historic Environmental Justice Law to make our cities cleaner and greener. Cleo believes that education as to the need for recycling of single use plastics is critical, as is the effort to promote green building and clean, renewable energy sources like wind and solar and incentivization of electric vehicle purchases through tax credits to reduce our tremendous dependence upon fossil fuel.    

Cleo was one of only three Assembly members to vote against the Election Transparency Act and will continue to work to ensure that the New Jersey election process remains among the most secure in the nation.  

The Assemblywoman has seen first-hand the inequities that exist in New Jersey  schools and will continue to focus her efforts on ensuring that all students receive the “thorough and efficient education” guaranteed them by the State Constitution. Every student deserves to attend a safe, modern school building and learn not just tested subjects but the Amistad curriculum for which she fought so hard to implement.  

Gun violence is a reality in our cities that Cleo is all too familiar with, despite New Jersey having among the strongest gun laws in the nation and will continue her strong voting record to promote gun safety. 

She also believes that all New Jerseys are entitled to a safe and affordable place to call home, and the systemic issue of lack of housing affordability remains one of her paramount concerns.  

Assemblywoman Tucker attended Tennessee State University.  She is running for re-election with the running with the Essex County Democratic Organization on the first all African-American women ticket with Sen. Renee Burgess and Assembly candidate Garnet Hall. 

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