The decision to not split Jersey City into more than two legislative districts was made before Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop weighed in on the issue, according to Philip Carchman, the former appellate court judge who was the court-appointed Apportionment Commission tiebreaker.
In an appearance on the New Jersey Globe Power Hour on Talk Radio 77 WABC on Saturday, Carchman said he had researched the issue in advance of an initial submission made by Democrats that put parts of Jersey City into three different Hudson County-based districts.
“I’m going to make an admission. I don’t even know if I told Chairman (Al Barlas) and Chairman (LeRoy) Jones about this,” Carchman said. “I was not aware of Mayor Fulop’s letter until after I had been thinking about the issue of the two and three on Jersey City.”
Carchman said that during the legislative redistricting process, he read the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in an Alabama congressional redistricting case “which raised the issue of the Voting Rights Act and how the United States Supreme Court might address the Voting Rights Act in the future.”
“It certainly raised a red flag in my mind that if the Voting Rights Act is implicated in decision making in New Jersey, be careful because the United States Supreme Court may be taking a different look at that,” he said. “This is this is more of the judge in me and the lawyer in me reacting, but I can say candidly, it was not a result of Mayor Fulop’s letter, which I then read.”
He said that while Fulop “raised some issues that had to be considered, Carchman’s “initial reaction” on splitting Jersey City “was based on the United States Supreme Court action rather than the Mayor’s.”
The mapmaking panel’s decision to only split Jersey City once led to a newly-drawn district that put two incumbent Democratic state senators, North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco and Union City Mayor Brian P. Stack, into the same districts.
Sacco announced on Thursday that he would not seek re-election to the Senate, where he’s served since ousting three-term incumbent Thomas Cowan (D-Jersey City) in the 1993 Democratic primary. Instead, Sacco endorsed Stack for another term.
The map appears to have produced a new Senate seat for Jersey City, with Assembly Judiciary Chairman Raj Mukherji (D-Jersey City) emerging as the strong front-runner in the 32nd district.
Jones, the Democratic state chairman, said that he hopes the legislature will address the legality of splitting Jersey City before the next round of redistricting in 2031.
“ As we move forward, just paying attention to the issues that we have to confront that are of a legal nature right now may require the attention of the Legislature going forward,” Jones said on the New Jersey Globe Power Hour.
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