A coalition of minority groups Wednesday released their version of a legislative map as they look to boost the opportunities for minority representation in the state legislature.
The map, which was created by the New Jersey Legislative Redistricting Coalition, would maintain the number of existing “majority minority districts, and the number of so-called coalition districts, where minorities make up a majority of voters but no one group holds a majority, would double from 7 to 14.
“We believe that our map reflects the 2010 U.S. Census and speaks to the realities in all communities across the State of New Jersey,” said Jerry Harris, Co-Chairman of the Coalition and Chairman of the New Jersey Black Issues Convention. “The Coalition is hopeful that the State Apportionment Commission will consider our map and accept the fact that African Americans, Asians and Hispanics now represent more than 40% of our State’s population. Our map increases the opportunities for New Jersey’s legislature to better reflect its broad and diverse population.”
Among the changes advocated by the group would be a combined district that includes Perth Amboy, New Brunswick, Edison, Metuchen and Woodbridge, which would pit state Sens. Barbara Buono and Joe Vitale in a primary. The coalition map would combine Vineland and Atlantic City into a new 2nd District. The combination of these two cities would create a district where Latinos, blacks and Asians would make up 53 percent of the district population allowing for more opportunity for minority representatives.
Hawthorne would be removed from the 35th District, giving Hispanic Assemblywoman Nellie Pou a solid shot at the senate seat currently occupied by Sen. John Girgenti. In the newly refigured 34th District, Republican Sen. Kevin O’Toole would face off against Democratic Sen. Nia Gill, of Montclair.
Sen. Brian Stack’s 33rd District would no longer be a majority minority district, but would maintain a coalition of minorities as the majority force in the district. Sen. Nick Sacco’s 32nd District would become a Lationo majority district.
The majority minority districts on the map would be the 28th and 32nd Districts, while the so-called coalition districts would be 2nd, 15th, 17th 18th, 19th, 20th, 22nd, 29th, 31st, 33rd, 34th, 35th, 36th and 37th.
Race has so-far dominated the debate over the redistricting process as both parties configure maps to deal with the rise in the Lation population. Republicans argue that the map created in 2001 – considered by most to be a Democratic-leaning map – did little to advance minority representation in the state. Democrats say that while more needs to be done, the 2001 map was a good start toward furthering minority opportunities.
This year, the legislature is made up of 80 percent white representatives, 12.5 percent black, 5.83 percent Hispanic and 1.67 percent Asian. In all, there are just 24 minorities – 20 percent – in the legislature, while minority groups make up more than 30 percent of the state’s population.
Democrats advocate for so-called unpacked districts, which spread minority voters out among many districts, while Republicans have pushed for more majority minority districts to put minorities into as few districts as possible.
The full map can be seen below: