“From every level statewide and federal, white men hold over 50% of the elected seats in the state, but they are about 27% of the overall population. And that’s a huge gap in terms of representation relative to their share of the population,” said Jean Sinzdak, associate director of the Center for American Women and Politics, which last week published a report on the demographics of New Jersey’s elected officials. “A huge over-representation gap” exists, said Sinzdak. “And no other group has that kind of overrepresentation gap, none even come close.”
The survey has its limitations since most officials didn’t participate and not everyone listed their race. The study found women of color were all underrepresented — Asian American women and Latinas in particular, in relation to their share of the population.
Patricia Campos-Medina, executive director of The Worker Institute, ILR-Cornell University, said with regard to that disparity, “We need to eliminate the party line and to allow candidates to emerge on their own and put themselves in the ballot and run on their own merits because what Latinos and Latinas in New Jersey don’t lack is ambition. What we lack in opportunity to run for office.”
“The line creates such an advantage over who ends up in office and who gets to decide who has a line? The party bosses. Overwhelmingly white men themselves,” said Henal Patel of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice.