The following is a reprinted letter by Senator Nellie Pou (D-35) and her fellow members of the NJ Legislative Latino Caucus:
May 21, 2020
John Currie, Chairman
Peg Schaffer, Vice Chairwoman
New Jersey Democratic State Committee
194-196 West State Street
Trenton, NJ 08608
Dear Chairman Currie and Vice Chairwoman Schaffer,
During these challenging and dark days for our State and country, I hope you and your loved ones are safe and well. As Chair of the NJ Legislative Latino Caucus, I am writing this letter today to encourage you to appoint a woman from the Latino community to the Legislative Redistricting Commission.
As you know well, diversity in membership is critical across all government committees, and the composition of this Commission is no exception. We ask that you seize this opportunity to be deliberate about your appointments to the State’s Legislative Redistricting Commission and ensure communities who have historically been left out, women and people of color, are given an opportunity to impact the legislative body for the next ten years.
As of the 2010 Census, 18% of our State’s residents identified as Hispanic or Latino. This number is expected to increase with the results of the 2020 Census, as New Jersey has seen steady growth in the Latino community. Despite this, only 8% of New Jersey’s State Legislature identifies as Hispanic or Latino, leaving this growing population without adequate representation in our State’s decision-making chambers. Similarly, women make-up 51% of our State’s population, but hold only 37 seats (31%) in our State’s Legislature.
Nevertheless, while we’ve seen some progress over the years, I think we can all agree that the diversity among our State’s decision makers is not reflective of the constituents they were elected to represent. Further, ensuring representation of our fast-growing Latino population as New Jersey re-draws electoral districts, is crucial to an effective democracy. A rich and diverse Commission,
ASSEMBLYWOMAN, 4TH DISTRICT
ASSEMBLYWOMAN, 20th DISTRICT
NELLIE POU, CHAIR
SENATOR, 35th DISTRICT
M. TERESA RUIZ
SENATOR, 29th DISTRICT
SENATOR, 5TH DISTRICT
ELIANA PINTOR – MARIN
ASSEMBLYWOMAN, 29th DISTRICT
ANGELICA M. JIMENEZ
ASSEMBLYWOMAN, 32nd DISTRICT
ASSEMBLYMAN, 32ND DISTRICT
ASSEMBLYWOMAN, 33rd DISTRICT
as reflective of our State and Democratic Party, will allow this decennial process to start off in the right direction and guide a process that ensures our districts reflect the continued change in the demographics of our state.
Surely, we as Democrats, can afford to utilize one of the five Democratic appointees to ensure that our political future is defined by someone who may understand the needs, strengths, contributions, or complexities of the Latino community.
If New Jersey’s Democrats do not act with intention to signal our commitment to diversity and fair and adequate representation, we will lose the trust of the constituents that we have been elected to serve.
Please know that we thank you, in advance, for your attention to this incredibly poignant issue,
and for your past and continued support.