Due to changes in population as detailed by the most recent U.S. Census, maps for congressional legislative districts across New Jersey were redrawn. The maps selected for the redistricting of House of Representatives seats will divide Bayonne and Jersey City, splitting each town between U.S. Rep. Albio Sires of West New York and Rep. Donald Payne of Newark.
Payne will inherit huge portions of Bayonne and Jersey City, which his district did not have before. Sires’ district – which is now numbered District 8 instead of 13 – loses the most remote sections of the current district, such as Perth Amboy, but will pick up the entire cities of Elizabeth and Belleville, and also gets Jersey City Heights.
Payne’s new district includes most of the west side of Bayonne, as well as large sections of western Jersey City in the 10th District.
Sires’ district also includes all of North Bergen and all of Elizabeth, as well as towns such as West New York, Union City, and Hoboken. His district, he said, now includes half of Jersey City and a portion of Newark, as well as the traditionally blue collar city of Belleville.
“I’m going to roll up my sleeves and go to work.” – Rep. Albio Sires
Prior to this, the 9th District represented a portion of the Jersey City Heights, which will now go to Sires in the 8th District.
The redistricting has startled some local lawmakers, especially in Bayonne, which prior to this had largely been in Sires’ district and mostly part of a district largely located in Hudson County. Now Bayonne and sections of Jersey City are split between Hudson and Essex counties.
Payne will represent a strip along the Jersey City boarder in northern Bayonne, and then most of the west side of Bayonne from 65th Street to near Eighth Street – from Avenue C to Newark Bay – while Sires will have the Bergen Point section of southern Bayonne and the east side of Bayonne.
Assemblyman Jason O’Donnell, who serves as chairman of the Bayonne Democratic Organization, said the redistricting defies the professed logic of the state’s Redistricting Committee that had wanted to keep districts from splitting municipalities.
Freeholder Bill O’Dea, whose freeholder district represents the west side of Jersey City, said Payne had previously had a portion of the west side and simply has a larger chunk now.
Sires is the biggest beneficiary in Hudson County, since it narrows the geographic boundaries, which had previously stretched from Guttenberg in the north to Perth Amboy in the south.
Rothman is perhaps the biggest loser, since the GOP map forced him to choose between running in the 5th District against a powerful Republican or taking on Pascrell in what will likely be a tough primary battle between two liberal congressmen.
“These are two good guys,” said O’Donnell. “While we have closer ties to Rothman, it will be a loss no matter who loses.”
Mayor Mark Smith, who serves as chairman of the Hudson County Democratic Organization, is expected to endorse Rothman shortly.
Sires will roll up his sleeves
Sires said that while he was pleased with some of the changes in the district, he was sorry to lose a portion of Bayonne.
“I really like Bayonne, and I was pleased to serve the community there,” he said. “I will continue to work hard for Bayonne, as well as the rest of the new district.”
Sires will be closing his offices in Perth Amboy and Carteret, which he represented in his old district, and will look to open offices in Elizabeth and possibly Newark.
Sires said he will continue to pursue his agenda of “putting America back to work,” and said he will continue to fight for Social Security and Medicare, two areas he sees as primary battle grounds in the Republican-dominated House of Representatives.
“I’m sure there’s going to be a fight,” he said. “People on the other side want to change those things. In reality, the people in my district do not trust the Republicans to make those reforms.”
But he said his work ethic won’t change.
“I’m going to work as hard for my new constituents as I did before,” he said. “I’m going to roll up my sleeves and go to work.”
Many of the issues in the newly-constructed district are the same, such as the need to raise the Bayonne Bridge so that larger container ships can reach the ports in Newark and Elizabeth.
Port operations make up a major part of the economy and are responsible directly for creating more than 260,000 jobs. He said the goods brought into the port are used primarily in the New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut areas.
“My job is also to make sure my district gets its fair share when it comes to federal funds,” he said.
Transportation improvements – such as the expansion of the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail up the westside of Jersey City – remain one of his goals.
Payne looks ahead to continued service
As with Sires, Rep. Payne said the issues that he was concerned about in the past will continue to be addressed if he is successfully re-elected in 2012.
“I have had the distinct honor and privilege to represent the 10th Congressional District in Congress, and I look forward to continuing to represent this district beyond the 2012 election,” he said. “The boundaries of my district may have changed, but my priorities remain the same. I will continue to be a strong voice for improving education and increasing job training, as well as employment opportunities, upgrading our infrastructure, and addressing our country’s growing income inequality.”
Redistricting, he noted, was determined by changes in population.
“New Jersey was one of the 10 states that will lose a congressional seat as a result of the 2010 Census reapportionment process,” Payne said. “I understood that the district needed to gain population and expand, and that is what the bipartisan redistricting commission has done. I will miss serving the townships and areas no longer represented in the 10th Congressional District. However, I welcome the expanded areas added to the district. With that said, I am ready to start building strong relationships within [these] expanded areas. I will continue fighting to rebuild America’s middle class.”