MADISON, NJ, December 17, 2018 – When you ask someone to do something and they do it, you must thank them. Last week during the Assembly Judiciary Public Hearings, as part of a broad coalition of organizations I testified on behalf of Action Together New Jersey’s members asking for the redistricting constitutional amendment to be pulled. When Assemblyman Greenwald challenged a fellow citizen to come up with alternatives, I pushed backed at the Assemblyman challenging the fairness and gotcha nature of the question. In a nutshell: redistricting reform is not a constituent’s job and I defer the task to professionals such as Eric Holder (National Democratic Redistricting Committee) and nonpartisan organizations such as the Princeton Gerrymandering Project and the Brennan Center. In an interview with InsiderNJ, I asked for the proposal to be tabled.
And on Saturday, it was pulled from Monday’s vote. Senate President Steve Sweeney and Speaker Craig Coughlin listened to their fellow Legislators and did the right thing by pulling the proposal and this action presents New Jersey leaders with an opportunity to move forward as true leaders in the nation for redistricting reform. The testimony presented concurrently in both the Senate State Government Committee and Assembly Judiciary Committee led both bodies to hear loudly and unequivocally the tide of unanimous opposition against the redistricting proposal. The chorus of testimony from progressive organizations, grassroots groups, nonpartisan organizations, universities, and Republican legislative members provided a combined nearly 6 hours of testimony where not a single organization supported the proposal. Many leaders across the state including Governor Phil Murphy, Senator Dick Codey, Democratic County Chairs, and Senator Weinberg demonstrated leadership by speaking out about the inherent problems in the partisan proposal.
And for all these leaders who stood up and voiced their concerns and opposition, for the leaders who listened, and for the leaders who pulled the respective bills, we thank you for doing the right thing. From here, we continue to ask that our elected leaders work with nonpartisan organizations and experts in fair districting to craft a redistricting proposal that would benefit all New Jerseyans ensuring that it reflects the diversity of our great state.
Uyen “Winn” Khuong is the Executive Director of Action Together New Jersey