Sandra Bolden Cunningham

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Sandra Bolden Cunningham
Member of the New Jersey Senate
from the 31st Legislative District
Assumed office
November 8, 2007
Personal details
Born (1950-09-04) September 4, 1950 (age 69)
Newark, New Jersey
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Glenn Cunningham
(m. 1998–2004, his death)
ResidenceGreenville, Jersey City, New Jersey[citation needed]
Alma materBloomfield College (B.A.)
OccupationAdministrator, Sandra and Glenn D. Cunningham Foundation
WebsiteLegislative web page

Sandra Bolden Cunningham (born September 4, 1950) is an American Democratic Party politician, who has been serving in the New Jersey State Senate since 2007, where she represents the 31st Legislative District. She was sworn into office on November 8, 2007.[1] She is the widow of former Jersey City Mayor Glenn Cunningham, who died in 2004.

Early life and education[edit]

Sandra Bolden was born on September 4, 1950, and was raised in Newark. She graduated from West Side High School and received a B.A. from Bloomfield College with a major in liberal arts.[2][3]

Early career[edit]

Bolden was an actress and was a part of the Negro Ensemble Company. She became the executive of the Hudson County Bar Association in 1988 after working various county jobs in Essex County.[3]

Political career[edit]

Following her husband's death, there were reports of interest by Cunningham to seek her late husband's Senate seat to which he was elected in 2003 and was reported to be considering a run for Mayor of Jersey City in a May 2005 special election.[3] She became president of the Sandra and Glenn Cunningham Foundation and has supported causes in Jersey City through the foundation. In 2006 signs in Jersey City touted her as a candidate for the U.S. Senate vs. Sen. Robert Menendez and State Sen. Tom Kean Jr.. Menendez and her late husband were bitter political rivals. She did not seek the U.S. Senate seat and announced her candidacy for the state senate in the Democratic primary against Sen. Joseph Doria in 2007.

Doria, the mayor of Bayonne, dropped out of the race in March 2007. Assemblyman Louis Manzo, who first won his seat on a ticket with Mayor Cunningham, challenged Cunningham in the Democratic primary for the Senate. During the primary race, Cunningham received the support of the Hudson County Democratic Organization and Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy, who had previously opposed her and her late husband. One of Cunningham's running mates for the Assembly was former State Sen. L. Harvey Smith, who had been defeated by her husband in a bitter 2003 Senate primary. Cunningham defeated Assemblyman Manzo in the Democratic primary in June 2007.[4] She was virtually unopposed in the November general election, defeating independent candidate Louis Vernotico with over 87% of the vote.[5]

Following Doria's October 2007 resignation to become Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, Cunningham was elected on October 23, 2007, by a special election convention to serve the remainder of Doria's term, which expired in January 2008. Cunningham served the remainder of Doria's term before beginning her own four-year term and was sworn into the state senate on November 8, 2007.[6]

In the Senate, she has been assigned to serve as chair of the Higher Education; she also sits on the Budget and Appropriations Committee and Labor Committee. She is the current senate majority whip, holding the position since 2008.[2]

In 2012, the Hudson Reporter named her #6 in its list of Hudson County's 50 most influential people, with North Bergen mayor and State Senator Nicholas Sacco ranked first on the list.[7]

District 31[edit]

Each of the forty districts in the New Jersey Legislature has one representative in the New Jersey Senate and two members in the New Jersey General Assembly. The other representatives from the 31st district for the 2014–2015 Legislative Session are:[8]

Personal life[edit]

She began dating Jersey City police officer and councilman Glenn Cunningham in 1990 and got married on January 7, 1998, in Nassau, Bahamas.[9] While Cunningham was campaigning for and later won the Jersey City mayoral election in 2001, Sandra Cunningham often accompanied her husband at public events and political meetings.[3][9] Glenn Cunningham died on May 25, 2004, of a heart attack.[citation needed]

Election history[edit]

New Jersey State Senate elections, 2013[10]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Sandra Bolden Cunningham (incumbent) 18,822 73.1
Republican Maria Karczewski 6,932 26.9
Democratic hold
New Jersey State Senate elections, 2011[11]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Sandra Bolden Cunningham (incumbent) 13,275 82.4
Republican Donnamarie James 2,836 17.6
Democratic hold
New Jersey State Senate elections, 2007[12]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Sandra Bolden Cunningham 10,821 87.7
Independent Louis Vernotico 1,511 12.3
Democratic hold
Democratic Primary - New Jersey State Senate elections, 2007[13]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Sandra Bolden Cunningham 10,594 55.8
Democratic Louis Manzo 8,385 44.2


  1. ^ Baldwin, Tom. "2 new lawmakers take oath, become Assembly members", Courier-Post, November 9, 2007. Accessed November 20, 2007. "One new state senator was sworn in for the 31st District in Hudson County, Sandra Bolden Cunningham, who will finish the unexpired term of former Sen. Joseph Doria Jr. She holds the Senate seat once held by her late husband, Glenn, who died in office in 2004."
  2. ^ a b Senator Cunningham's legislative webpage, New Jersey Legislature. Accessed July 4, 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d Miller, Jonathan (September 16, 2004). "For a City Hall Widow, Politics Can Wait, for Now". The New York Times. Retrieved July 4, 2015.
  4. ^ Chen, David W. "Voters Send Mixed Signals to Democratic Organization in New Jersey Primaries", The New York Times, June 6, 2007. Accessed June 25, 2012. "But in the other marquee battle for the Senate, in the southern end of the county, the Democratic organization’s choice, Sandra A. Bolden Cunningham, the widow of popular former mayor, defeated Assemblyman Louis M. Manzo."
  5. ^ Staff. "9th District legislators tout state's highest vote counts", The Press of Atlantic City, November 10, 2007. Accessed June 25, 2012. "In that race, Sandra Bolden Cunningham, a Democrat, received 10,170 votes and defeated Louis Vernotico, who received 1,383 votes."
  6. ^ Hester Jr., Tom. "Senate Republicans boost Kean Jr. after losing seat in election", The Press of Atlantic City, November 9, 2007. Accessed June 25, 2012. "In the Senate, Sandra Cunningham took the 31st District seat representing Hudson County. She replaces Joseph Doria, who resigned to become Community Affairs commissioner."
  7. ^ Adriana Rambay Fernández, Stephen LaMarca, Gennarose Pope, Ray Smith, Al Sullivan and E. Assata Wright. "They've Got the Power". The Union City Reporter. January 8, 2012, pp. 1, 4-7 and 10-11.
  8. ^ "Legislative Roster 2014-2015 Session". New Jersey Legislature. Retrieved July 4, 2015.
  9. ^ a b Tolk, Prescott (December 26, 2001). "A First Lady's life Sandra Cunningham steps up to her new role". Hudson Reporter. Retrieved July 4, 2015.
  10. ^ "Official List Candidates for State Senate For GENERAL ELECTION 11/05/2015 Election" (PDF). Secretary of State of New Jersey. December 4, 2013. Retrieved July 4, 2015.
  11. ^ Official List Candidate Returns for State Senate For November 2011 General Election, New Jersey Department of State, December 14, 2011. Accessed June 25, 2012.
  12. ^ Official List Candidate Returns for State Senate For November 2007 General Election, New Jersey Department of State, December 3, 2007. Accessed June 25, 2012.
  13. ^ "Official List Candidates Returns for State Senate for June 2007 Primary Election" (PDF). Secretary of State of New Jersey. July 20, 2007. Retrieved July 4, 2015.

External links[edit]

Honorary titles
Preceded by
Lynn Schundler
First Lady of Jersey City, New Jersey
July 1, 2001 – May 25, 2004
Succeeded by
Gail Smith
New Jersey Senate
Preceded by
Joseph Doria
New Jersey State Senator - 31st Legislative District
November 8, 2007 – present
Succeeded by