All four NJ 11th For Change Directors recently provided testimony to the Legislative Reapportionment Commission.
Our testimony, data, and submitted map, all included below, describe the changing demographics of both the current and newly constituted Congressional District 11 that our organization represents. We support legislative districts that recognize the diversity in our changing NJ landscape--strongly advocating that communities of interest are represented with vital opportunities for participation in the political process. Our proposed map also reflects the continuity of representation that is so critical for voter trust and engagement, turnout, and civic participation.
The Morris County districts are competitive and give a much-needed voice to growing communities of interest. In Essex County, LD27 becomes a predominantly West Essex district, LD34 includes all Northeast Essex besides Belleville, which helps to create a new majority Latinx district in LD29. LD28 continues to be a majority Black district. The new districts are all well within the accepted deviation, compact, use county lines as a guide, and are competitive wherever possible.
January 26, 2022
My name is Leslie Bockol, Co-Executive director (along with Mara Novak) of NJ 11th for Change. Thank you for the opportunity to testify tonight. As a grassroots organization centered in Congressional District 11, our group focuses closely on the needs — and the demographics — of people living in our territory, including the formerly 10, now 8 state Legislative Districts that make up our territory. Our Field Director Stacey Abenstein and our Research Director Patricia Doherty spend countless hours analyzing the demographic data and the voting breakdowns of our changing communities.
At NJ 11th for Change, we prioritize government that is transparent, responsive, and accountable to its constituents, which we all know happens only when candidates and elected officials need to EARN their seats, in every election.
That requires competitive districts.
In addition to all the other factors I know you have to balance in the monumental task of redistricting, NJ 11th for Change urges you to create districts that are competitive in ways that reflect the demographics and the will of their population. To do otherwise, discourages voter turnout among those whose voices are chronically underrepresented. As our state grows and changes, we need districts that don’t have predetermined results, based on historic power structures.
I’d like to call your attention, as an example, to LD 26.
LD 26 has been drawn in an indefensibly contorted horseshoe shape — giving one party a complete lock on elections, with a whopping 7% voter registration advantage. A Democrat hasn’t held a state legislative seat in this district since 1981!
THIS is not good for the people of this district. State Senator Pennacchio, who has held a seat in the legislature since – 2000? 2001? — is known to have literally told his constituents “Good luck with that,” crossing his arms, when they confront him with a problem. With a built-in 7-point advantage, he doesn’t need to lift a finger to campaign, and he even refused to debate. He doesn’t need to worry about his voters’ concerns, and neither will his inevitable successors, unless the district is substantially redrawn.
It is a disservice to our current voters if districts are drawn to protect political strongholds that no longer accurately reflect and therefore represent the people who live in them. A district drawn to be noncompetitive is a powerful disincentive for constituents to come out and vote, and have their voices heard — or have their interests represented by the legislators who are elected and sent to Trenton, ostensibly to help ALL of the people of their district. When one party or another has a lock on the vote, they have no political incentive to advocate for constituents beyond their base, and that’s a problem. A problem that redistricting needs to address.
Thank you again for hearing me out, and for the serious work you are doing here on this Commission. I’d like to offer a special thanks to Laura Matos. NJ 11th for Change is SO glad to see you on this commission! And to Chairman Jones — for your important decision today.
January 26, 2022
Thank you to Chairmen Jones and Barlas, to Judge Carchman, and to all the members of this commission for the opportunity to offer testimony. And a special welcome to newly named Commissioner Matos, I am delighted that you were appointed to this important role.
I am Mara Novak, co-Executive director (along with Leslie Bockol) of NJ 11th for Change. As a grassroots organization centered in Congressional District 11, we focus closely on the needs — and the demographics — of people living in our territory, including the formerly 10, now 8 LDs that make up our territory.
In addition to all the other factors I know you have to balance in the monumental task of redistricting, NJ 11th for Change urges you to create districts that take into account the changing demographics of our state’s population. In our part of North Jersey we see significant growth particularly in the AAPI and Latino communities. We encourage you to consider these COI as you draw new districts to strengthen their voices.
There are significant and expanding AAPI populations in the CD 11 and CD 11 adjacent towns of Parsippanny, Livingston, Millburn, Montville, Mountain Lakes, Boonton Township, as well as in Hanover and East Hanover. The Latino populations in Morristown, Dover, Morris Township, Wharton, Mine Hill, Rockaway Boro, Rockaway Township Roxbury, Mount Olive and Victory Gardens continue to grow rapidly as well.
New maps should be drawn to keep as many of these towns together as possible to give these communities of interest a larger voice.
At NJ 11th for Change, we prioritize government representation that is transparent, responsive, and accountable to all residents. The demographics of NJ are changing, and it is a disservice to our current voters if districts are drawn reflecting the demographics of the past, and that no longer accurately reflect the people who now live in them.
Thank you for the work you are doing here on this Commission.
Field Director, NJ11th for Change
February 2, 2022
My name is Stacey Abenstein, a 30-year resident of Livingston and the Field Director for NJ 11th for Change, an unaffiliated grassroots group dedicated to advocating for all people of New Jersey’s 11th Congressional District through outreach and education. As our focus is Morris and Essex Counties, I have spent many hours analyzing the municipalities in these counties and would like to share my conclusions and map with you.
There are two growing communities in Morris County that deserve a strong voice and representation: Latinx and AAPI. You have heard from these groups in previous sessions, but I’d like to stress the importance of grouping together towns with common interests. After starting with core towns that represent these groups, rearranging a bit and using other surrounding towns to balance the districts, I drew a map with two competitive districts with strong minority or “global majority” representation. In LD26, the voting age population (VAP) would be more than a third global majority and more than 20% Latinx. In LD25, VAP would be almost a third global majority and nearly 18% AAPI.
Moving east to Essex County, my map includes a West Essex district, LD27, heavily populated by our historically Jewish communities. As I am not sure you have access to demographic information on religion, I am including a map from a study recently done by The Jewish Federation of Metrowest in conjunction with Brandeis University showing the dense population of Jews in West Essex. While the high concentration of Jews started in Eastern Essex, the community moved to the suburbs in the 1960’s. In fact, I belong to Temple B’nai Abraham, a congregation that started in Newark in 1853, and thrived there through the 1960’s, relocating to Livingston in 1973 after the migration of Jews to the suburbs. With antisemitism and hate crimes on the rise in NJ, it is important this group has strong influence in one district with representatives who can advocate for the needs of this large community.
My version of the diverse LD34 eliminates Clifton but maintains the 37% global majority currently present in a compact, Northeast Essex only district. The new LD29 creates a majority Latinx district, which is not the case now, with the help of Belleville and the West Hudson County towns of Kearney, Harrison, and East Newark. My version of LD28 would continue to be majority Black and representation should reflect that majority.
In conclusion, I respectfully request that you consider the new map I submitted. The Morris County districts are competitive and give a much needed voice to growing communities of interest. In Essex County, LD27 becomes a predominantly West Essex district, LD34 includes all Northeast Essex besides Belleville, which helps to create a new majority Latinx district in LD29. LD28 continues to be a majority Black district. The new districts are all well within the accepted deviation, compact, use county lines as a guide, and are competitive wherever possible. Additionally, 15/18 incumbents are written into their current districts. I received support for this map from Wind of the Spirit, an immigrant advocacy group based in Morristown.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify today. I have submitted this testimony, the Jewish Federation map, and the new legislative map and analysis for your consideration.
Patricia E. Doherty
NJ11th For Change
February 5, 2022
Good Morning Chairmen Barlas and Jones, Judge Carchman, and Commissioners My name is Patricia Doherty. I am a 24 year resident of Nutley, and also the Research Director for NJ11th For Change.
Leslie Bockol and Mara Novak Co-Executive Directors, and Stacey Abenstein, our Field Director, have previously provided testimony, data, and a submitted map describing the changing demographics of both the current and newly constituted Congressional District 11 that our organization represents. We support legislative districts that recognize the diversity in our changing NJ landscape--strongly advocating that communities of interest are represented with vital opportunities for participation in the political process.
Our Map shows that the recent expanding AAPI and LatinX communities--as well as the older established Black and Jewish communities in Essex, Morris, and parts of Bergen, Passaic and Hudson Counties-- can be accommodated in these proposed compact districts following the prescribed deviations. This map also shows the relationships of municipalities while considering physical and environmental boundaries.
In our Essex-oriented LD 27 and 34, these dense and diverse municipalities encompass shared county relationships, services, and businesses that cross township boundaries. These towns also share similar environmental concerns to address flooding, brownfields, ongoing remediation of lead contaminated water supply and school districts with 100 yr. and older facilities needing rehab, updating or replacing.
Our proposed LD29 creates a new robust LatinX district with easy access to culturally-oriented businesses, social services, and language services. The new LD 28 is majority Black retaining much of the long established communities in Newark and Irvington. These two districts have many of the same environmental concerns as the 27th and 34th. In addition, some areas are affected by the lack of affordable and decent housing, often with conditions of unsafe lead paint that disproportionately affect the children of Black and LatinX families. It is critical that these
communities be represented by legislators who understand the wide breadth of their social, health, and economic needs In our LD 25 and 26, AAPI and LatinX households comprise growing communities of interest that must have the political influence that only competitive districts would provide. In addition, housing with high costs create conditions in which immigrant residents have difficulty finding available affordable housing suitable for their needs. These areas also have common environmental issues such as local flooding from the Passaic River and its tributaries which directly impact housing, business, transportation, and work.
In closing, our proposed map also reflects continuity of representation that is so critical for voter trust and engagement, turnout and civic participation. I would urge the Commission to consider the hyperlocal community needs that would not necessarily be addressed by just mapping with the numbers plugged in to fulfill formulas.
NJ11th For Change also thanks the Commission for the release of the final maps with the follow-up for public concerns.
Thank you so much for listening.