Home>Campaigns>All eyes on Lakewood to see how exploding population numbers will affect redistricting

State Sen. Robert W. Singer. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

All eyes on Lakewood to see how exploding population numbers will affect redistricting

Ten years ago, Lakewood population had a 54% growth in population

By David Wildstein, August 11 2021 4:29 pm

The starting point for legislative redistricting might turn out to be Lakewood, where an exploding population could limit options for drawing districts within the constitutional guidelines of size and geographic contiguity.

Lakewood borders on just four large municipalities: Brick, Toms River and Jackson in Ocean County and Howell in Monmouth.

In 2000, the U.S. Census Bureau put Lakewood’s population at 60,352 and estimated a growth of 18% increase in 2009 of 71,359.  Instead, the final count was substantially higher: 92,843 – a 54% increase over ten years.

The Census estimate for Lakewood in 2019 was 106,300, a 15% increase in the last decade.  But New Jersey’s statewide population turned out to be 4.6% higher that the estimate and it’s not clear whether they were a little bit off everywhere or way off in some places.

Lakewood’s master plan suggests a population of about 130,000 by 2030 – it’ll hit that mark earlier — and as much as 220,000 in coming decades.

Once Lakewood goes over 200,000, it may be mathematically impossible to achieve dual member Assembly districts without a constitutional amendment to allow the Legislative Apportionment Commission to split towns.

The 2019 U.S. Census estimates had Brick at 76,100, Toms River at 94,108, Jackson at 57,731 and Howell at 51,952.  Farmingdale sits entirely within Howell and cannot be separated; the estimated population was at 1,354.

Further complicating redistricting is that two Republican senators, Robert Singer (R-Lakewood) and James Holzapfel (R-Toms River), live in adjacent towns.  A Lakewood-Toms River district would potentially pit the two senators into a Republican primary fight.

If Lakewood hits the target of 106,300 – and to be clear, it won’t; it will be much higher – no more than 149,147 additional people can be added to it.

Right now, Lakewood is New Jersey’s seventh-largest municipality.  It’s possible to jump ahead of Woodbridge and Edison and become #5 when the U.S. Census announces municipal population numbers on Thursday.

With New Jersey’s population certified at 9,288,994 – municipal population data won’t come until the end of September – the ideal size of legislative districts goes up from 222,055 to 232,225.

The constitutional limit is +/- 10%, so a district could range from 209,0003 to 255,447, but the reapportionment commission has typically sought to keep districts at +/-5% — from 220,614 to 243,836 – or even less.

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