New Jersey redistricting has its highs and Lows

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Ferras EP cover 2014

New Jersey StatehouseNew Jersey’s legislative redistricting commission finalized the new state legislative districts in New Jersey this week. The new map affects both state Senate and State Assembly districts for the next 10 years. All states are required to do this after the U.S. Census count to reflect population changes and shifts. Redistricting constitutes New Jersey’s biggest political event each decade. 

The new districts determine the political balance of power in the state and the results usually affect which party will remain in control of the legislature.

New Jersey's only openly gay Assemblyman, Reed Gusciora, may have to move to keep his seat in the 15th District

New Jersey’s only openly gay Assemblyman, Reed Gusciora, may have to move to keep his seat in the 15th District

For the LGBT community, some opponents of equality will most likely keep their seats, but some may lose their seats. Anti-gay same-sex marriage opponent Democratic Legislator John Girgenti and Republican anti-gay same-sex marriage foe Senator Sean Kean will lose out. They have been redistricted out of their seats by the new district apportionment maps. Redistricting has also created an opportunity for longtime Garden State Equality activist Jeff Gardner to run for an open Assembly seat in the new 38th district covering parts of Bergen and Passaic Counties. This was Girgenti’s seat and Jeff Gardner was planning to run against him in a rare Democratic contested June primary to oust him. If elected, Gardner would possibly be the second openly-gay New Jersey state legislator.

Though the redistricting plan feels like a win-win for the LGBT community in North Jersey, with Jeff Gardner, and in Monmouth County, with Sean Kean loosing an easy win, it is not without its possible losses. Reed Gusciora, an openly-gay lawmaker currently holds the 15th District Assembly seat, which could lead to a newcomer getting elected due to the new district map. The plan calls for Princeton to be removed from Mercer County’s 15th District, a Democratic stronghold, and into Somerset County’s 16th District, which is now considered strong Republican territory. Gusciora said it was his own party that proposed Princeton’s relocation.

“This is a way of getting rid of the progressive members,” Gusciora said. “It’s a shame it got personal. We’ll see. But the map holds up, and I think that Princeton should have remained in Mercer County, and they could have easily done that. I’ve been in the Legislature for 16 years,” he added. “I’ve often bucked against my party. This was an opportunity for them to even the score, I guess. They don’t want an independent person who fights for working families or lowering property taxes.”

Gusciora was the leading advocate who pushed for the legalization of medical marijuana and the failed effort to get New Jersey to recognize same-sex marriage. He supported the abolition of capital punishment but recently said he would consider re-imposing the death penalty in New Jersey.

“I’m a big boy, so it’s part of the rough and tumble of politics,” Gusciora said of having his hometown thrown into a Republican district, which makes it nearly impossible for Gusciora to get elected as a state lawmaker while living in Princeton, NJ. Gusciora had just purchased a new home in Princeton last year.

This week some analysts indicated that Gusciora had shown a possible inclination to relocate to the Capital City of Trenton to keep his seat in the New Jersey State Assembly.

 

 

 

New Jersey StatehouseNew Jersey’s legislative redistricting commission finalized the new state legislative districts in New Jersey this week. The new map affects both state Senate and State Assembly districts for the next 10 years. All states are required to do this after the U.S. Census count to reflect population changes and shifts. Redistricting constitutes New Jersey’s biggest political event each decade.