Coalition partners across NJ come together to demand gender, racial parity for New Jersey Apportionment Commission
Groups issue open letter to Democratic and Republican Party chairs
TRENTON, N.J. — This week, Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey (PPAFNJ) and 23 other organizations sent a letter to New Jersey State Democratic and Republican Party chairs, urging them to take immediate steps to ensure the New Jersey Apportionment Commission reflects the diversity of our state. The coalition’s call for gender parity and racial diversity comes in response to news reports indicating the politically-appointed members of the bipartisan group tasked with redrawing the lines of New Jersey’s 40 legislative districts are expected to be almost entirely male and overwhelmingly white.
“Women and people of color need to be at the table to ensure that their communities and interests are accurately represented,” said Kaitlyn Wojtowicz, Vice President of Public Affairs for Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey. “The only way to ensure that the commission will draw districts fairly is to ensure that the commissioners are diverse and representative of New Jerseyans.”
The letter to the Democratic and Republican Party chairs reads:
“Every 10 years, the New Jersey Apportionment Commission is entrusted to redraw the lines of New Jersey’s 40 legislative districts to ensure that New Jerseyans are fairly represented in the Legislature.
“Early information suggests that, of the 10 members selected for the New Jersey Apportionment Commission, only one appointee will be a woman. While the state Democratic Party has not officially confirmed the names of its five appointees, it appears that no women are being considered. While we do not have information about the racial demographics of the commission, we are concerned because when women are excluded from tables of power, people of color usually are overlooked too.
“Diversity is important, not only to check a box but because the commission will be stronger and more effective if it is representative. When women and people of color are excluded from decision-making bodies, their experiences and expertise are not tapped. We are always stronger together and inclusion is especially important when it comes to voting representation.
“The members of the New Jersey Apportionment Commission must be representative of the people living in our state to ensure that nobody is overlooked when redrawing districts. In addition to representing the various regions of New Jersey, the commissioners must look like New Jerseyans and must include those groups traditionally marginalized. Women and people of color have long been underrepresented in government. In particular, there is a national resurgence of attacks on our most basic freedoms — from restrictions on reproductive rights to the dismantling of voting rights.
“We know that if women and people of color are not at the table, we will be on the menu. Therefore, we call on the New Jersey Democratic and Republican Party chairs to ensure that women and people of color are fairly represented among their appointees. We demand that both parties take immediate steps to ensure the New Jersey Apportionment Commission reflects the diversity of our state.”
The letter was signed by:
Action Together New Jersey
ATNJ Education Fund
American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey
American Friends and Service Committee Prison Watch Program
Cherry Hill Women’s Center
Gloucester County NAACP
Magniﬁcent Men Mentoring Group
NJ Coalition to End Domestic Violence
National Council of Jewish Women
National Council of Jewish Women Bergen County Section
National Council of Jewish Women, Essex Section
National Organization for Women of New Jersey
New Jersey Citizen Action
New Jersey Policy Perspective
Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey
Rising Leaders Global
Stanton Strong Inc.
The Huddle of South Jersey
UU Faith Action NJ
Women Who Never Give Up, Inc
Women for Progress
YWCA Northern New Jersey
Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey (PPAFNJ) is a nonpartisan 501(c)(4) non-profit social welfare organization, and the advocacy arm of the Planned Parenthood Affiliates in New Jersey. We advocate for access to essential health care through education, activism, voter engagement, grassroots organizing, and legislative advocacy. For more information, visit our website at: www.ppactionnj.org.