“As I’m sure you’ve heard and read over the last hours, in my capacity as Chair of the New Jersey Democratic Party, I have decided to make a change in the Commissioners of the Democratic Delegation to the Apportionment Commission by appointing Laura Matos as a Commissioner.
This decision comes as the result of careful consideration, with much deliberation, and in concert with a number of other party leaders across the state.
As Chair of the Democratic State Committee, it is my responsibility and duty to select standard bearers who will best represent the Democratic Party’s interests on this Commission, and ensure a strong and representative party moving forward.
No person or organization’s own goals and ambitions are above the interests of our party and the people of this State.
It is in that spirit and in reflection on input that this Commission has received that I have exercised my authority to make a change to the Democratic Delegation. This decision was necessary to protect the future of the Democratic Party and the goal of achieving a fair map, and the integrity of the Commission as a whole.
This decision is consistent with the evaluative standards that Judge Carchman laid out last week, specifically his acknowledgement that we “must take into account the changes that have shaped New Jersey over the past ten years,” including population shifts and a more diverse state.
So, I am proud to say that we are continuing to move beyond backroom deals and political bargaining chits and listening to the many voices in this State begging for representation, some of whom have even testified about this issue before this Commission.
In appointing Laura Matos earlier today, our party has taken a critically important step to make sure that same fairness continues to be present in the decisions made as this Commission works on a new legislative map over these next weeks.
Our Democratic Party is not defined by one individual or one single entity, it is defined by our ideals and our actions.
Now, to be clear, I am many things. Naïve is not one of them.
I took this important step with the full recognition and understanding of the potential for backlash from powerful constituencies both in New Jersey and from other states that may consider their own political fortunes to be negatively impacted.
That very consideration shows the importance and the necessity for a new member.
This process is simply too important for the focus to be anywhere but on the over 9 million people who will have their day to day lives impacted by what we do here over these next weeks.
New Jersey residents deserve better.
As a former Freeholder and a former Assemblyman, as well as the former City Administrator in East Orange, I know first-hand the direct and far-reaching consequences this process will have on the 565 towns throughout the forty legislative districts of our great State.
Legislative representation impacts everything from aid delivered to communities and education decisions for our children to who will be nominated to serve in our courts of law.
Each of those things is more important than any threat of political consequence.
And there is precedent in our State for removing Commission members after appointment. Many here will recall that ten years ago, the then-Mayor of Orange, Eldridge Hawkins, Jr. was removed from the Congressional Redistricting Commission after he had already been appointed.
In sum, the Constitution authorizes each party chair to select five members to sit on the Apportionment Commission, to represent the party’s interests. Those individuals serve at the pleasure of their respective chairs.
I take my Constitutional responsibilities seriously and it is because of this that I made this decision.
I want to assure the public that our process will continue this evening unabated. Our strength is in our diversity, our strength is in our inclusiveness and our strength is in our unity and the change we are moving forward with will reflect those traits.
With that, I would like to welcome Laura Matos to the Commission, and begin tonight’s meeting.”