Tag Archive: redistricting

Two Big Problems that the Recent June 5 Primaries Revealed

As an observer of the recent June 5 primaries that finally came to a close I have noticed two big problems with the way candidates for public office are chosen in NJ and the system that is set up for said candidates that heavily favor incumbents at the detriment of political newcomers.  First, the County party nominating process has to be dramatically reformed.  Allowing a relatively small contingent of political insiders in each of the 21 NJ counties have the power to endorse a candidate and thus, give he/she the preferred “line” on the primary ballot makes it incredibly difficult for a political outsider or more independent-minded candidate from having a fighting shot.  One only needs to look at what happened to Ron C. Rice in CD-10 to understand how undemocratic and unfair this process truly is.  Secondly, the redistricting process in NJ must change.  Having a small group of state politicians and political appointees get to decide the borders and boundaries of our 40 State Legislative districts and 12 Congressional districts is utterly corrupt and inherently flawed.  The People of NJ should get to decide how our districts should be formed, not the 11-person NJ Apportionment Commission and the 13-person NJ Redistricting Commission.  The political representation of over 8.8 million New Jerseyans should not be decided by these political insiders, but rather, by average New Jerseyans.  A good model for NJ to follow would be the relatively new California Citizens Redistricting Commission whereby 14 average California residents (5 registered Democrats, 5 registered Republicans, and 4 Independents) serve on the Commission through a application/lottery process and get to decide the makeup of California’s state legislative and Congressional districts.  The Commission held 35 public input hearings and were very pro-active in educating California citizens about how the process worked and how they could be directly involved (i.e. submitting maps, etc.).  The Citizens Commission also has no regard to political parties or incumbents when creating the districts and incorporated community interest testimony from Californians of all walks of life and all political persuasions.  The final maps produced districts that were free from gerrymandering and were overall more competitive than ever before.  New Jersey has a lot to learn from this Citizens Commission and hopefully by 2021 we will have something similar in time for the next Redistricting process in NJ.

Getting back to the first issue I mentioned above: the nominating process by the 21 NJ County party organizations (both Democratic and Republican).  The fact that getting “the line” by the County party organization means getting the preferred spot on the ballot is ridiculous and simply unfair.  Most voters who don’t know anything about the candidates in a primary will simply vote for the first row of names they see (it especially helps to have President Obama’s name in the same row as yours in a Democratic primary).

More below the fold

Senator Bateman: Will he ever vote for marriage equality?

Marsha and Louise are two of the best known faces of New Jersey’s marriage equality movement, and they are my friends and fellow board members at Garden State Equality, as are Jon & Michael Galluccio and their 15-year-old daughter Madison, all mentioned below. – promoted by Rosi

Our senator Kip Bateman has presented as an enigma to those of us fighting for marriage equality. Where does he really stand? We met with him on the Friday before the Senate vote to try and gain a better understanding. The morning started out cordial enough, with Sen. Bateman taking us out for breakfast in a local diner he frequents. The senator freely shared that he supported marriage equality, but thought that the legislature was not the correct venue since Gov. Christie would veto it anyway. He talked about his surprise that so many people in Princeton and South Brunswick (the towns he now represents since legislative redistricting) supported marriage equality, and also made reference to his “more conservative” constituents in Somerset and Hunterdon.  He mentioned the Pastor of his church, who opposes marriage equality.

We’re hurt and disappointed that our own Senator was opting out of his responsibility by suggesting a public referendum on our rights. And we told him so. We asked him what he pictured when he thought about this vote. He described voters entering the booth to vote the way they vote on other referendums, like bond issues or preservations, proudly stating that the question of marriage equality would be worded in an affirmative manner. He seemed astonished when we advised him that a referendum would result in a costly battle, both financially and emotionally. We provided him with facts:  

  • California Prop 8 referendum fight cost $83 million dollars (prior to court battle).

  • Neighbors were pitted against neighbors with

    children no longer allowed to play with their friends or told their gay dads would die from AIDS. (Jon Holden Galluccio talks about some of this in a post about his family’s life in California).

  • Prop 8 advertisements frightened otherwise reasonable voters who would have supported marriage equality by purporting that children would be harmed and/or religious institutions would be threatened.

    More of Sen. Bateman’s response & a video, below the fold.