"As with our first class of nominees presented in 2007, this assemblage of New Jersey Hall of Fame nominees is indeed impressive," said Bart Oates, chairman of the hall's board of commissioners. "The people of our state should be proud of these New Jerseyans and can find great role models from all walks of life."
The nominees are from the fields of arts and entertainment, sports, history and enterprise. Only people who lived in the Garden State for at least five years are eligible, though current residency is not required, said spokesman Don Smith.
The hall inducted 15 members into its inaugural class last year, including Bruce Springsteen, Yogi Berra and Frank Sinatra.
This year's nominees include political activist Paul Robeson, writers F. Scott Fitzgerald, Walt Whitman and Philip Roth, entertainers Jerry Lewis, Count Basie and Bud Abbott, and athletes Althea Gibson (tennis) and Carl Lewis (track).
The nominees were culled from a list of more than 160 potential Hall of Famers compiled over three years. The organization's Voting Academy, made up of 100 state organization, whittled the list to 30 names - six in each of five categories.
Voters will choose one name in each category and the academy will choose the other five inductees based on vote totals for second- and third-place finishers, Smith said.
The goal of the hall is to highlight the often-derided Garden State's positive contributions, a lofty endeavor for a state renowned for corrupt politicians, belching refineries, stereotypical gangsters and novel smells.
The hall has a virtual home but no permanent physical location.
It is supported by private funds but operated under the auspices of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority.
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