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New Jersey Pinelands Commission Chair Laura Matos. (Photo: Laura Matos).

Working Families Party lauds Sweeney redistricting ouster

By Joey Fox, January 26 2022 11:21 am

The Working Families Party (WFP), a left-wing political party that has frequently clashed with the New Jersey Democratic machine, today applauded the decision of state Democratic chairman LeRoy Jones, Jr., to remove former Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) from the Legislative Apportionment Commission and replace him with Laura Matos.

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“This decision brings desperately needed diversity to the Commission by ensuring that one of New Jersey’s fastest growing demographic groups is represented in a body that is responsible for ensuring our state’s legislative districts accurately reflect the most diverse state in the nation,” WFP state director Sue Altman said in a statement. “Just as important, this decision places the work of drawing new legislative maps in the hands of a reliable partner for Democrats at a critical time in our nation’s history.”

Matos, a Monmouth County resident and the chair of the Pinelands Commission, will be the commission’s only Hispanic member in a state that is more than one-fifth Hispanic.

Only a few months ago, Sweeney was one of the state’s most powerful Democrats, and in addition to his seat on the legislative commission held significant sway over two South Jersey commissioners on the Congressional Redistricting Commission. 

Those two commissioners reportedly caused chaos in the congressional commission’s Democratic delegation when they tried to put Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair) in a tougher district to weaken her future statewide prospects, a gambit that failed. 

“This scheme, reported in numerous press accounts, demonstrates that Sweeney and his allies cannot be trusted to uphold their duties on the Apportionment Commission,” Altman said. “We need an open and transparent process that puts the needs of residents above the craven interests of an outdated political machine.”

Sweeney, meanwhile, shockingly lost re-election last year to now-State Sen. Ed Durr (R-Swedesboro) in a wipeout for South Jersey legislative Democrats across the board. Jones and other Democrats were reportedly worried that Sweeney, no longer constrained by elected office, would seek to undermine other Democrats on the reapportionment commission and work with Republicans for his own gain.

“No person or organization’s goals and ambitions are above the interests of our party and the people of this state,” Jones said.

This story was updated at 2:22 p.m. with a correction; Matos was born and raised in Burlington County, but currently lives in Monmouth County.

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