NJ Democratic Chairman Boots Sweeney from Redistricting Panel
TRENTON – Former Senate President Steve Sweeney was booted from the commission redrawing the state’s legislative map by the Democratic Party state chairman Wednesday.
Sweeney, D-Gloucester, lost his 3rd District Senate seat in an election shocker in November. He hasn’t announced if he’ll try to win it back in 2023 or run for governor in 2025 but says his political career is not yet complete.
Now his time on the Apportionment Commission has also been cut short. LeRoy Jones Jr., the Democratic state chairman and the party’s chairman of its redistricting delegation, filed a letter with the state’s secretary of state replacing Sweeney with Laura Matos of Belmar.
“This decision comes as the result of careful consideration, with much deliberation, and in concert with a number of party leaders across the state,” Jones said in a prepared statement.
“As chair of the Democratic State Committee, it is my responsibility and duty to select standard-bearers who will best represent the Democratic Party’s interests on the commission and ensure a strong and representative party moving forward,” he said. “No person or organization’s goals and ambitions are above the interests of our party and the people of this state.”
Jones didn’t specify any particular concerns about Sweeney, but there had been regional conflicts in congressional redistricting. His removal and that of some of the commission’s staff members leaves no South Jersey residents among the panel’s Democrats.
“This decision was necessary to protect the future of the Democratic Party and the integrity of the commission as a whole,” Jones said.
The appointment of Matos adds the first Latina to the commission and addresses a criticism raised by some groups when the 10 members of the panel were first announced.
Matos, who grew up in Medford Lakes in Burlington County, worked for Govs. Jim McGreevey, Dick Codey, and Jon Corzine. She was recently appointed chairwoman of the Pinelands Commission and is the New Jersey managing director at Kivvit, a public affairs consulting firm.
The Apportionment Commission has meetings scheduled for tonight at 6 p.m., Feb. 2, Feb. 5, and Feb. 9. Its deadline to adopt a map that will be used for Senate and Assembly elections starting in 2023 is March 1.