Insider NJ

Activists Gather Outside Legislative Caucus Meetings To Urge Legislators To Oppose Redistricting Proposals

Insider NJ — December 12, 2018

East Brunswick — Activists from grassroots, good-government, and progressive groups gathered today at the East Brunswick Hilton to silently protest legislative efforts to move a ballot question aimed at changing the state constitution to grant legislators increased power in the redistricting process and enact changes experts have decried as exacerbating gerrymandering.

Members of New Jersey Working Families Alliance, League of Women Voters of New Jersey, NJ11th for Change, NJ7 Forward, New Jersey Citizen Action, Our Revolution New Jersey, and UU FaithAction NJ, all convened in their expressed opposition to the amendment as proposed.

"Since 2015, NJ Working Families has stood firm in its opposition to a process that places elected officials at the helm of a process to create their own districts. We stand in solidarity with those who also express concerns for varying reasons and urge legislators to pause in order to make the entire process more transparent, fair, and garner broader support." said Analilia Mejia, Executive Director of New Jersey Working Families Alliance, which withdrew support for a similar proposal in 2015 in part because of its failure to ban legislators from serving on the commission.

Leaders of organizations who played an integral part in the 2018 midterm victories across the state joined the action to demand legislators pull support from the resolutions.

Saily Avelenda, Executive Director of NJ11th for Change said, "It should not shock our legislators that organizers from around the state are united in opposition to these proposals. We stand for good government and transparency- not for granting a select few legislators broader powers that they have already claimed for themselves. We showed up today to remind our legislators that there will be a political price to pay if they vote in favor for these terrible amendments. Voters are paying attention and so are we."

"We are here to put our representatives on notice, said Margaret Illis, co-founder of NJ7Forward. This isn't an electorate of years past. We have become an engaged and activated electorate and demand better from our representatives. This isn't about partisanship or parties, this is about our voice and vote."

"When a legislator is on the redistricting commission, their sole mission is to create a safe district for themselves. No one is going to say "Give me a less safe district to ensure a fairer map for everyone," said Barry Brendel, Chair of Our Revolution New Jersey, the Sanders-inspired grassroots organization.

Activists from faith organizations also joined the call to oppose the redistricting proposal. "Good governance, in congregations as well as in the statehouse, depends on an open and fair process that doesn't impact the bedrock principle of 'One person, one vote,' said Rev. Rob Gregson, Executive Director of the Public Policy and Social Justice Office of the 21 Unitarian Universalist congregations in NJ. "Unitarian Universalists and many of our faith partners unequivocally oppose carving up the state in ways that give an unfair advantage to either party, Democrats or Republicans. It's bad for religious institutions and it's bad for democracy in New Jersey."

Actions against the redistricting proposal by grassroots organizations will continue in Trenton tomorrow as public hearings on SCR 43/ACR60 are scheduled.

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