Despite big changes, those who make N.J.’s laws still don’t reflect the state’s diversity

April 16, 2024

New Jersey is widely considered one of the most diverse states in the nation — but even after an election last year that brought big changes, the state Legislature once again falls short in reflecting the population.

Though figures have improved over the last few decades, the number of lawmakers of color in the 221st Legislature is only one more than the 220th edition, according to an analysis by NJ Advance Media.

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Most of the county leaders who make these decisions are white men, notes Julia Sass Rubin, a Rutgers University professor who has studied the effect of the county line.

Rubin said the Legislature’s latest numbers are not a shock even with the big turnover last year because, with the line firmly in place, the number of contested races “barely budged.” She said county chairs tend to pick candidates who are reflective of themselves.

“It perpetuates a legislature that doesn’t reflect the gender or racial makeup of the state,” she said. “You get sort of self-replication.”

Mosaic/NJ.com, April 14, 2024

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