The needler in the haystack.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Census 2010 may bring big changes to Plainfield


Dr. Ernest Reock's guide to redistricting in New Jersey.


Plainfield's 2010 Census is being handled much differently from that of 2000, as far as I can see, and that portends possible big changes coming.

Depending, of course, on what is happening elsewhere in New Jersey and whether or not Gov. Chris Christie will speedily 'promulgate' the Census findings when they are expected to be delivered to him in early February 2011.

Breaking the 50,000+1 barrier for Plainfield has consequences that have previously been noted (see here) --

...[g]etting a census figure of 50,001 residents would mean that Plainfield would get its CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) monies DIRECTLY from HUD. For decades, Plainfield has had to suffer the indignity of monies generated for the programs by virtue of its economic profile going to other Union County communities whose profiles would not generate the same level of revenues. All under the watchful eye of a committee said to be attentive to the desires of 65 King Street [the home of Union County Dem chairperson Charlotte DeFilippo]...
But there are other impacts -- the city's wards will have to be redrawn, the Legislative district may shift as well as the Congressional district.

PLAINFIELD WARDS





Plainfield's four wards were redrawn after the 2000 Census.
Based on the Supreme Court's 'one man, one vote' ruling (Reynolds v. Sims, 1964 -- see here), Plainfield four wards are supposed to represent approximately one fourth of its total residents in each. (Voting districts are an entirely separate matter; a district is determined by the numbers of voters who turn out on average, accounting for the disparity between high- and low-turnout areas in the city.)

As population distribution patterns in the city fluctuate, Ward lines are redrawn to maintain the relative equality. After the 2000 Census, Ward 2 was extended northward to George Street (from South Avenue) and Ward 3 was extended northward to include portions of West 4th Street (from West 7th Street). Both these adjustments reflected a growth in the total populations of Ward 1 and Ward 4.

My gut feeling is that that trend will show itself to have continued in the 2010 Census, and that may mean further changes to the boundaries of the four wards.

Those changes will be made by a Board of Ward Commissioners that will include the four members of the Union County Board of Elections (2 Dems and 2 Republicans) plus the municipal clerk (who has the tie-breaking vote).

I have the current Ward maps online --

It is most likely the new ward alignments will be in effect for the 2012 election cycle.

LEGISLATIVE DISTRICTS




The 22nd District includes towns in 3 counties.
Demographic changes may also affect the outlines of New Jersey's 40 legislative districts. Although Union County is not expected to have grown that much, growth spurts in other areas of the state can cause the average number of voters to be included in a legislative district to cause the boundaries of the 22nd District to shift (for more on our district, see here); for more on municipal population estimates statewide, see here).

This will be an interesting one to watch, also expected to first affect the 2012 election cycle.

CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT



Our Congressional district is a textbook case of gerrymandering.
After the 2000 Census, Plainfield was added to the 6th Congressional District, whose representative is Frank Pallone.

The district is the very model of modern gerrymandering, Plainfield looking like the head on a very attenuated dragon.

New Jersey is widely expected to lose one of its 13 seats in Congress in this next go-round, meaning all of the Congressional district boundaries will have to be redrawn by the NJ Redistricting Commission (the responsible body -- see more here). This is sure to get interesting as incumbents try to jostle each other to keep their seats. As growth has shifted to central and southern sections of the state, boundaries of the districts in the urban north and east are likely to be shifted outwards.

For a detailed overview of the complete redistricting process, you can do no better than to download, read, mark and digest Dr. Ernest Reock's Redistricting New Jersey After The Census of 2010 (available
here, PDF).

Whatever Plainfield's final count in Census 2010, there is certainly going to be plenty else to keep an eye on, which is likely to affect us in ways both large and small.



    -- Dan Damon [follow]

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    2 comments:

    Anonymous said...

    Well I hope it helps our beloved Plainfield

    Anonymous said...

    Hey maybe "Sleepy Hollow" will redistrict into Scotch Plains