Bettering Plainfield with the facts since 2005

Friday, September 2, 2011

Plainfield Ward lines redrawn

The Board of Ward Commissioners for Plainfield met Thursday.

These Ward boundaries have been in effect since 2001.
Plainfield, along with nine other Union County municipalities that are divided into wards for election purposes, had their ward boundaries for the next ten years set in meetings Thursday of the boards of ward commissioners. (See my previous post and current Ward maps here.)

New Jersey statute provides for a Board of Ward Commissioners to mandatorily review ward boundaries after each decennial Census' numbers are 'promulgated' (officially recognized by the Governor) in communities that use wards for elections. Adjustments made after this review go into effect after the next general election and remain in effect until a new round of adjustments after the next Census, which occurs in April 2020.

The Board of Ward Commissioners consists of the County Board of Elections (see more here), composed of two Democrats and two Republicans, plus the Clerk of the affected municipality. Union County's Board of Elections currently consists of John DeSimone (chair), Marie Oakie (secretary), Clara Harelik, Esq., and Mary Ellen Harris. Dennis Kobitz, known to many Plainfielders who have either worked at polling stations or acted as candidates' challengers, is the Board of Elections' administrator.

Each town's hearing is considered a separate public meeting, with the reading of the mandatory 'Sunshine Law' notice, the seating of the municipal clerk as a member of the board, the pledge to the flag and the organization of the board of ward commissioners with the election of a chairperson.

After all of this, the commissioners evaluate the proposal (or proposals) put forward by its consultant, engineering firm of Remington & Vernick, and any previously submitted by local resident(s), after which a vote is taken and the boundaries are either established or reaffirmed for another ten years.

I arrived about forty minutes early for Plainfield's appointed time and got to sit in on the presentation and deliberations over realigning Rahway's six ward boundaries.

It was quite interesting -- and involved -- with two versions of a redraw submitted by the consultant and another complete plan submitted by a resident. What with the commissioners juggling printed versions of the plans and the engineer discussing the details via a large flat-screen monitor on the wall, there was a lot of information to absorb -- and keep track of.

Though I am unfamiliar with the Rahway situation on the ground, the differences did not seem to be major -- in fact everyone, including the resident, agreed that they all met the conditions of the 'one man, one vote' ruling and state statute. So, the commissioners had leeway in deciding. So, it was interesting to note that when the vote was called, three commissioners supported what was referred to as 'plan A' and chairperson DeSimone and Rahway's municipal clerk voted no. With that, 'plan A' was carried, the meeting adjourned, and the stage set for Plainfield.

With a 2010 Census total of 49,808, Plainfield had grown by nearly 2,000 since the previous Census.

Would the Ward boundaries be affected?

New Jersey statute allows for an overall variation of 10% between the most populous and least populous wards in a municipality. In Plainfield's case, the allowable range is from a MINIMUM of 11,829 to a MAXIMUM of 12,957.

Here is the way the Wards lined up under the new Census figures -- Ward 1 (13,042); Ward 2 (12,426); Ward 3 (11,825); Ward 4 (12,515).

You can see at once that Ward 1 is over the maximum by EIGHTY FIVE PERSONS and Ward 3 is out of compliance BY FOUR PERSONS, being four short of the minimum Ward population.

The consultant proposed that TWO CITY BLOCKS be moved from Ward 1 to Ward 3 to correct the imbalance. One of the blocks (which includes Twin City supermarket) has ZERO residents; the other (which includes one apartment building and two multi-family residences) has EIGHTY-FIVE residents (with two registered voters).

The adjustment raises Ward 3 enough to comply, without disturbing the compliance of the other three wards.

The plan was moved, seconded and passed unanimously.

The proposal put forward by the consultant and adopted by
the Board of Ward Commissioners.

Satellite view of the affected blocks.

Plainfield's time on the griddle?

About fifteen minutes.

Here are the resultant numbers.


The new Ward maps will go into effect AFTER this November's general election.

Besides Plainfield, the other Union County communities using wards are Clark, Elizabeth, Hillside, Linden, Rahway, Roselle, Roselle Park, Summit and Westfield.

Congratulations to Clerk 'AJ' Jalloh and Deputy Clerk India Cole for being so well prepared and unflappable, and thanks to Freeholder Linda Carter for being there for moral support.

We'll see whether 2020 will offer a little more frisson.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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Randy said...

DAN, Thanks for taking the time to report things that are important to us as community. The Currier news has left us behind most of the time,unless there is a murder or a drug bust!