Almost two years since Mikie Sherrill announced she was running for Congress, and four months after winning her election, Rep. Sherrill – sworn in January 3rd – is still not permanently living in the congressional district whose people she represents in Washington.
Part of Montclair, where Sherrill lives, was redistricted into the 11th CD last time, and before that was split into the 8th and 10th congressional districts. Sherrill’s slice of Montclair is pretty solidly blue, but before her win the district hadn’t gone Dem in Democratic in 34 years and the 11th voted Trump in 2016. Sherrill told reporters as early as Summer 2017 that the family would move into the 11th. Then in October that year, said the For Sale signs would be up that day or the next, and that she was “committed to be in the district by the primary.” She won that primary and the general that followed it, but even after inauguration her residency is in flux.
To be sure, she doesn’t have to move her family far; across town would do it. Borders between districts are generally drawn for political considerations, most often to protect incumbents. So, these district lines are arbitrary, almost artificial. Montclair is Montclair. It’s ridiculous we have any towns that are split into two districts – particularly politically significant Montclair. The law doesn’t require Sherrill to live in the CD she represents, though moving is something she promised voters. By contrast, NJ GOP Rep. Chris Smith hasn’t even lived in New Jersey in years and certainly is not transparent about his residency, as Sherrill is clearly making the effort to be.
It’s easy to sympathize with anybody’s real estate woes, particularly if they just started a big new job. But her opponents will look to use this against her. I hope she relocates soon – and permanently.