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New Jersey Redistricting Commission holds first hearings
By Kyle Maichle
During the first of two meetings in Camden, commission members debated the merits of adding an 11th tie-breaking member to be included in the early stage of meetings. Democrats stressed if a 11th member is added, it would allow the additional person to have adequate time to consider map configurations. John Wisniewski, leader of the Democratic redistricting team, said: "we think it's essential, especially in the time frame we’re working with, have the involvement of the 11th member, who will almost certainly cast the tie-breaking vote."
Republican members stressed a provision in the state constitution mandating the commission to meet for one month before including an 11th member. Jay Webber, Chairman of the GOP's redistricting effort, said: "it is an accelerated and compressed process, but one that we feel requires us to follow the dictates of the constitution and work together as members of the commission...to try to find a map and make every effort."
In the days leading up to the first meeting, commission members were engaged in partisan infighting. John Wisenewski told the Courier-Post that: "I'm trying to be polite, but the reality is it took Republicans until Monday to get back to us with an agreement on location and time." Wisenewski also said: "the foot-dragging has been entirely on their part." It was not until January 26, 2011, that the commission announced times and locations of the meetings.
The deadline for the 10 member commission to get a plan in place is one month after Census data is released. If no plan is reached, Chief Justice Stuart Rabner of the New Jersey Supreme Court would appoint the 11th member to the commission. The 11th member is nonpartisan and would decide the outcome on how the maps would be drawn.
- [Confirmed via email, in a press release issued from the New Jersey Working Families Alliance on 1-29-2011]
- NJ.com, "N.J. redistricting commission argues over whether it is at an impasse" 29 Jan. 2011
- Courier Post, "Redistricting committee at odds before hearing" 27 Jan. 2011
- PolitickerNJ "Rosenthal likely 11th member of redistricting committee" 29 Dec. 2010