Today the Women’s Political Caucus of NJ, LUPEPAC, PAM’s List, a coalition of African American women leaders, the Democratic Task Force of the Bipartisan Coalition for Women’s Appointments announced their collaboration with Senator Loretta Weinberg, Senator Nellie Pou and the NJ Legislative Latino Caucus, and Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter and the NJ Legislative Black Caucus in an effort to secure landmark appropriations to study the gender and ethnic diversity of those appointed to state boards and commissions, as well as all publicly elected officials.
These organizations have been working collaboratively for years in an attempt to develop ways to address the lack of diverse representation in our state’s elected offices, as well as appointed positions on boards and commissions. It is clear that a key element missing from this effort is availability of current, transparent data that is public-facing, searchable and easily downloadable for data visualization and analysis by researchers. For ongoing analysis, it is also crucial to ensure consistent and ongoing access to the data.
“For too long now, our appointed boards have been dominated by white men. It is difficult to achieve gender parity or appropriate representation on these boards when it is unclear who is serving and when their terms end. I am hopeful that this transparency will make the nomination and appointment process more equitable for the diverse communities we represent. I appreciate the Governor and Senate President’s willingness to help in this endeavor.” said Senator Loretta Weinberg.
"Nearly one in five New Jerseyans are a member of the Hispanic community, and as the Latino Caucus, a top priority is to ensure there is proper representation from our community in all levels of government. In order to accomplish this goal, we need to ensure we are armed with the most accurate and current data. Those elected to serve in office, as well as those on public boards and commissions, should reflect the diversity of our state." said Senator Nellie Pou, Chair of the Legislative Latino Caucus
“We must be intentional to ensure gender equity and diversity is represented in all spaces. This database is an essential tool needed to guarantee that a conscious effort is established in this endeavor. I would like to thank all of the partners for their strong alliance and support with these necessary inclusion initiatives.” said Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter, Chair of the Legislative Black Caucus.
Members of these organizations have partnered with legislators to develop two resolutions. The first will fund a deep dive into the racial and gender makeup of all the seats on New Jersey’s more than 500 public boards. Data will be collected by Rutgers University’s Eagleton Institute of Politics, and the public-facing database will be jointly housed by Eagleton and the Governor’s office. The regular updating of this database would be codified via legislation to ensure that future administrations continue to make the appointments process transparent and equitable.
The second appropriation would accelerate achieving the goal of P.L.2019, c.377, signed in January of 2020, collecting the race and gender of every elected public official currently in office at the municipal, county and state levels. It is important that the public have this data as soon as possible so that voters can make informed decisions about diversity in representation when entering the voting booth.
“For fifty years the Center for American Women and Politics has been tracking and monitoring the number of women candidates and officeholders nationwide. This has taught us that you can’t solve the problem of underrepresentation until you define the problem and you can’t define the problem without the data. This appropriation will finally allow us all to fully understand the status of women and people of color in New Jersey State government and develop effective strategies to make sure that the diversity of our state is reflected in our government.” said Debbie Walsh, Director of the Center for American Women and Politics, a unit of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University.