A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Aberdeen and Redistricting

Redistricting is being done behind the scenes in New Jersey. The deadline for a plan is one month after the 2010 Census numbers are received. Those numbers were received in New Jersey last week.

Ben Dworkin, of the Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics, Ryder University, discussed redistricting on News 12 New Jersey today. He said New Jersey will lose one Congressional District from the current Congressional map as a result of the 2010 Federal Census; 7 southern states (NV, UT, AZ, TX, SC, GA, and FL) plus 1 in the northwest (WA) will gain seats.

Dworkin explained how the Chief Justice of the NJ Supreme Court is empowered to name the 11th member of the state's redistricting commission to break the inevitable tie between the rival plans of the commission's 5 Democrats and 5 Republicans. The state's 40 legislative districts need to each represent roughly 220,000 population, so adjustments will have to be made. By the way, the commission is exempt from the state's Sunshine Laws, so don't expect to learn much about its progress as its work will be done behind closed doors.

Dworkin commented that 17 of the 20 NJ towns that lost the most population in the state in the past decade were in the southern part of the state. NBC New York, however, said NJ's population was shifting southward, with growth in Ocean (+12.8%), Gloucester (+13.2%), and other southern counties. Cape May County (-4.9%) was the biggest loser, while Essex County, including Newark, lost 1.2% of its population.

Nearly 1 in 5 New Jerseyans is now Hispanic, in comparison to 1 in 6 a decade ago. They'll want adequate representation in government. Non-Hispanic whites now represent less than 60% of the population, 10% less than ten yeas ago.

The 6th Congressional District, formed in 1873, is probably the most gerrymandered in the state. Over the past 50 years, its five Congressmen have each come to represent the district as a result of redistricting. The Republicans will undoubtedly seek to upset Frank Pallone's applecart by tinkering with or even eliminating the district, especially after Anna Little won in the Monmouth County portion of the district but lost in the overall. The Democrats, of course, will have other plans.

Keep in mind that Aberdeen has moved from district to district in the past and that could happen again. In 1980, Aberdeen was in the 4th Congressional District when Congressman Frank Thompson was mired in the ABSCAM federal bribery case. Chris Smith, who eventually replaced Thompson, was our Congressman for at least one term.

You can read an excellent outline of the NJ redistricting process at each level of government in a paper written nearly 3 years ago by Ernest Reock of Rutgers University

1 comment:

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