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Retired New Jersey Superior Court Judge Philip Carchman. (Photo: New Jersey Bar Association.)

Carchman previews his role at first legislative apportionment meeting

By Joey Fox, October 15 2021 11:31 am

The Legislative Apportionment Commission held its first meeting this morning, at which tiebreaking member Philip Carchman said that he intends to broker the creation of a bipartisan legislative map but is prepared to choose one party’s map if need be.

The commission consists of five Democrats, five Republicans, and Carchman, a retired judge who was chosen by the state Supreme Court last week as tiebreaker.

Despite his judicial past, Carchman emphasized that he does not see himself as the commission’s judge, but rather as its genuine eleventh member – something past tiebreakers were unable to do, since they were only allowed to become involved late in the process.

“I do not sit here as a judge, but as a voting member of this commission,” Carchman said. “I view my responsibility as attempting to bring the Republican and Democratic commission members together … to resolve the differences between them. My objective is to find a resolution that represents fairness to both parties and the public, and one that meets the standards imposed by the constitution and the law.”

Carchman added that while he hopes that both sides will agree to one single map, if each party draws a separate map that meets the requirements under the law, he is prepared to make the difficult choice between them.

“I may be required to make a hard call and cast a difficult vote,” he said. “I have done that throughout my professional career, and I am prepared to do so here.”

There are also a number of other considerations – among them competitiveness, partisan fairness, communities of interest, and protection of incumbents – that Carchman said he hopes commissioners consider even if they are not required by law. 

“I am confident that when we complete our work, that a map will be in place that will serve the best interests of the parties, the voters, and most important, the people of New Jersey,” he said. “I am committed to fulfill that objective.”

Today’s meeting did not involve any discussion of the districts themselves; in addition to hearing Carchman speak, the commission agreed to a set of bylaws and appointed the Office of Legislative Services as the commission’s secretary before adjourning.

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