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Bonnie Watson Coleman

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Bonnie Watson Coleman
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Jersey's 12th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2015
Preceded byRush Holt Jr.
Majority Leader of the
New Jersey General Assembly
In office
January 12, 2006 – January 12, 2010
Preceded byJoseph J. Roberts
Succeeded byJoseph Cryan
Member of the New Jersey General Assembly
from the 15th district
In office
January 13, 1998 – January 3, 2015
Serving with Reed Gusciora
Preceded byShirley Turner
Succeeded byElizabeth Maher Muoio
Personal details
Bonnie M. Watson[1]

(1945-02-06) February 6, 1945 (age 79)
Camden, New Jersey, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
William Coleman
(m. 1995)
EducationRutgers University-Camden
Thomas Edison State University (BA)
WebsiteHouse website

Bonnie M. Watson Coleman (born February 6, 1945) is an American politician. She has served as the U.S. representative for New Jersey's 12th congressional district since 2015. She is a member of the Democratic Party. Watson Coleman served in the New Jersey General Assembly, from 1998 to 2015 for the 15th legislative district.[2] She is the first African-American woman to represent New Jersey in Congress.[3]

Early life and education

Watson Coleman was born in Camden, New Jersey. Her father, John S. Watson, served six terms in the New Jersey legislature. She graduated from Ewing High School.[4] She received a B.A. from Thomas Edison State College in 1985 after briefly attending Rutgers University-Camden. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.[5] Raised Baptist,[6] she resides in Ewing Township.[7]

Early career

In 1974, Watson Coleman established the first Office of Civil Rights, Contract Compliance and Affirmative Action, in the New Jersey Department of Transportation and remained the director of that office for six years. In 1980, she joined the Department of Community Affairs, where she held a number of positions including assistant commissioner responsible for aging, community resources, public guardian and women divisions.

Watson Coleman served on the Governing Boards Association of State Colleges from 1987 to 1998 and as its chair from 1991 to 1993. She was a member of the Ewing Township Planning Board from 1996 to 1997, a member of The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey board of trustees from 1981 to 1998, and its chair from 1990 to 1991.[2]

Watson Coleman served in the New Jersey General Assembly from 1998 to 2015 for the 15th Legislative District,[2] the same district her father represented. She became the first African American woman to lead the state party when she was elected chair of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee on February 4, 2002. She served until 2006. Watson Coleman served as Majority Leader of the New Jersey General Assembly from 2006 to 2010.

U.S. House of Representatives

2014 election

Following the announcement that Congressman Rush Holt would not seek another term in office, Watson Coleman announced her candidacy for the seat in New Jersey's 12th congressional district.[8]

On June 3, Watson Coleman won the Democratic primary.[9] She defeated Republican nominee Alieta Eck in the November 4 general election[10] with 60.9% of the vote.[11] She resigned her state legislature seat to enter Congress. Watson Coleman's win made her the first African-American woman elected to represent a New Jersey district in the U.S. House of Representatives.[12]


On March 3, 2015, Watson Coleman participated with fellow Democrats in the boycott of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to Congress.[13]

In March 2016, Watson Coleman and Representatives Robin Kelly and Yvette D. Clarke founded the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls.[14] "Black women and girls are disproportionately affected by myriad socioeconomic issues that diminish their quality of life and threaten the well-being of their families and communities. The Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls gives black women a seat at the table for the crucial discussion on the policies that impact them while also providing a framework for creating opportunities and eliminating barriers to success for black women", they announced in a press release.[15] They were inspired by the #SheWoke Committee, a group of seven activists that reached out to lawmakers and staffers to start.[16]

Watson Coleman co-sponsored the International Megan's Law, to combat child exploitation and other sex crimes abroad. President Barack Obama signed the bill into law in February 2016.[17]

In July 2019, Watson Coleman voted against H. Res. 246 - 116th Congress, a House resolution introduced by Representative Brad Schneider opposing efforts to boycott the State of Israel and the Global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement targeting Israel. The resolution passed 398–17.[18][19]

Committee assignments

Caucus memberships

Political positions

Coleman speaking at the 2017 Women's March in Trenton, New Jersey

Watson Coleman has been a strong supporter of programs allowing criminal offenders to reenter society.[24] As a New Jersey Assemblywoman, she sponsored a bill that bars companies with more than 15 employees from conducting criminal background checks on candidates during the interview process.[25]

In October 2020, Watson Coleman co-signed a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that condemned Azerbaijan’s offensive operations against the Armenian-populated enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, denounced Turkey’s role in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and called for an immediate ceasefire.[26]

Personal life

In 1972, Watson Coleman married Jim Carter. They had a son. They divorced in the early 1980s. In 1995, she married William Coleman. He has two sons from a previous marriage.[27]

Watson Coleman's two sons, William Carter-Watson and Jared C. Coleman, pleaded guilty to holding up the Kids "R" Us store at Mercer Mall with a handgun as it was about to close on March 12, 2001; they were sentenced to seven years in prison and served five and a half years. Watson Coleman has acknowledged it in the past and introduced legislation "that bars companies with more than 15 employees to conduct criminal background checks on candidates during the interview process". She argued for the law, saying, "One of the greatest barriers to a second chance in the state of New Jersey is a barrier to employment”; it was later passed and signed into law. In 2014, her son William Carter-Watson was hired by the Mercer County Park Commission as an entry-level laborer. When asked for comment, Brian Hughes, the County Executive, said, "the county has maintained a policy of hiring ex-convicts in search of a second chance".[28][29][30]

In the summer of 2018, Watson Coleman underwent surgery to remove a cancerous tumor.[31]

Watson Coleman tested positive for COVID-19 on January 11, 2021. She believed she contracted the virus from Republican colleagues who refused to wear masks while they sheltered together during the 2021 storming of the Capitol.[32][33]

Electoral history

New Jersey's 12th congressional district: Results 2014–2022
Year Democratic Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct
2014 Bonnie Watson Coleman 90,430 60.9% Alieta Eck 54,168 36.5% Don Dezarn Independent 1,330 0.9% Steven Welzer Green 890 0.6% *
2016 181,430 62.9% Steven J. Uccio 92,407 32.0% R. Edward Forchion Independent 6,094 2.1% Robert Shapiro Independent 2,775 1.0% **
2018 173,334 68.7% Daryl Kipnis 79,041 31.3%
2020 230,883 65.6% Mark Razzoli 114,591 32.6% R. Edward Forchion Independent 4,512 1.3% Ken Cody Independent 1,739 0.5%
2022 125,127 63.1% Darius Mayfield 71,175 35.9% Lynn Genrich Libertarian 1,925 1.0%

* Independent candidates Kenneth J. Cody, Jack Freudenheim and Allen J. Cannon received 0.4%, 0.4% and 0.3% respectively.
** Libertarian candidate Thomas Fitzpatrick, Green candidate Steven Welzer and Independent candidate Michael R. Bollentin received 0.9%, 0.7% and 0.4% respectively.

See also


  1. ^ "PAGE BY PAGE REPORT DISPLAY FOR 12972690548 (Page 87 of 220)". Retrieved April 2, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c Assemblywoman Watson Coleman's legislative web page Archived July 8, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, New Jersey Legislature; accessed June 5, 2011.
  3. ^ "2014: Not a Landmark Year for Women, Despite Some Notable Firsts", Center for American Women and Politics, November 5, 2014. Accessed November 5, 2016. "Love and Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) are the first African American women in Congress from their states."
  4. ^ Manual of the Legislature of New Jersey: 2004 Edition, p. 266. Lawyers Diary and Manual, LLC, 2004. ISBN 9781577411871. Accessed October 6, 2019. "The assemblywoman was born in Camden and attended public schools. She was graduated from Ewing High School, attended Rutgers University and earned a bachelor of arts degree from Thomas Edison State College."
  5. ^ Schaller, Thomas F.; King-Meadows, Tyson (2006). Devolution and Black state legislators : challenges and choices in the twenty-first century. Albany: State University of New York Press. p. 39. ISBN 978-0-7914-6729-9.
  6. ^ "New Jersey-12: Bonnie Watson Coleman (D)". Retrieved June 2, 2018.
  7. ^ Assembly Member Bonnie Watson Coleman, Project Vote Smart; accessed August 10, 2007.
  8. ^ "Mercer County Democrats rally support for Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman's campaign for Congress". February 21, 2014. Retrieved June 2, 2018.
  9. ^ Davis, Mike (June 4, 2014). "Watson Coleman wins Democratic primary for 12th congressional district". Retrieved June 4, 2014.
  10. ^ "With Bonnie Watson Coleman's 12th District win, local Democrats will pick Assembly successor". November 5, 2014. Retrieved June 2, 2018.
  11. ^ "New Jersey Election Results". The New York Times. Retrieved June 3, 2017.
  12. ^ D'Amico, Diane. "Civil rights struggle still alive in US, Watson Coleman tells Stockton symposium", The Press of Atlantic City, October 6, 2015. Accessed June 4, 2017. "The first black woman to represent New Jersey in Congress, Watson Coleman said Congress has not addressed the country’s economic divide and does not even seem willing to step up to the plate."
  13. ^ "WHIP LIST: 56 Democrats to skip Netanyahu speech to Congress". The Hill. March 3, 2015. Retrieved March 4, 2015.
  14. ^ Helm, Angela (March 26, 2016). "3 Black Congresswomen Create 1st Caucus on Black Women and Girls". The Root.
  15. ^ "Reps. Watson Coleman, Kelly, Clarke, Announce Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls". U.S. Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman. Archived from the original on January 12, 2017. Retrieved June 3, 2017.
  16. ^ Grimaldi, Christine (April 29, 2016). "#SheWoke Fuels First Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls Event". Retrieved June 3, 2017.
  17. ^ "". Retrieved June 3, 2017.
  18. ^ Schneider, Bradley Scott (July 23, 2019). "H.Res.246 - 116th Congress (2019-2020): Opposing efforts to delegitimize the State of Israel and the Global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement targeting Israel". Retrieved July 24, 2019.
  19. ^ Foran, Clare. "Who voted 'no' on the House resolution opposing Israel boycott movement", CNN, July 23, 2019. Accessed July 24, 2019.
  20. ^ "Caucus Members". Congressional Progressive Caucus. Retrieved January 30, 2018.
  21. ^ "Membership". Congressional Black Caucus. Retrieved March 7, 2018.
  22. ^ "Membership". Congressional Arts Caucus. Archived from the original on June 12, 2018. Retrieved March 21, 2018.
  23. ^ "Members". Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. Retrieved May 17, 2018.
  24. ^ Guest, Star-Ledger (September 9, 2018). "N.J. Congresswoman: 10 things we need to do to fix U.S. prison problem | Opinion". Retrieved April 2, 2019.
  25. ^ "N.J. Assembly panel advances bill to ban employee background checks until job offer". December 16, 2013.
  26. ^ "Senate and House Leaders to Secretary of State Pompeo: Cut Military Aid to Azerbaijan; Sanction Turkey for Ongoing Attacks Against Armenia and Artsakh". The Armenian Weekly. October 2, 2020.
  27. ^ Ginsberg, Wendy (May 5, 2002). "IN PERSON; The Family Business (Published 2002)". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 11, 2021.
  28. ^ "Mercer County hires Bonnie Watson Coleman's son to entry-level parks position". Retrieved January 19, 2017.
  29. ^ Sulaiman, Abdur-Rahman. "N.J. gun rights leader questions Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman about her sons' gun crimes". The Trentonian. MediaNews Group, Inc. Retrieved April 20, 2024.
  30. ^ Wilson, Tony; Frost, Soctt. "Watson Coleman's sons plead guilty in robbery". The Trentonian. MediaNews Group, Inc. Retrieved April 20, 2024.
  31. ^, Brent Johnson | NJ Advance Media for (November 2, 2018). "N.J. congresswoman recovering after cancerous tumor was removed". nj. Retrieved January 11, 2021.
  32. ^ Jones, Zoe (January 11, 2021). "Congresswoman tests positive for COVID-19 after attack on Capitol". CBS News. Retrieved January 11, 2021.
  33. ^ Itkowitz, ColbyScott (January 11, 2021). "75-year-old congresswoman tests positive for coronavirus after sheltering in place with unmasked lawmakers". Retrieved January 11, 2021.

External links

New Jersey General Assembly
Preceded by Chair of the New Jersey General Assembly Appropriations Committee
Succeeded by
Preceded by Majority Leader of the New Jersey General Assembly
Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by Chair of the New Jersey Democratic Party
Succeeded by
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Jersey's 12th congressional district

U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by United States representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
This page was last edited on 25 April 2024, at 15:52
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