[Editor's note: Here's a copy of the complete presentation provided by the city's redistricting consultant on Monday night. Please disregard the maps for Plans 4 and 5. They were dropped from the formal presentation.]
PATERSON, NJ – Almost 25,000 Patersonians would find themselves living in different wards under the most sweeping of three proposals outlined Monday night during a special meeting on city redistricting.
Under two other proposals presented by the city’s redistricting consultant, 4,100 and 7,100 people would change wards.
“I don’t want to speak for my fellow commissioners, but it would be far-fetched for us to move more than 20,000 people,’’ said John Currie, chairman of the Passaic County election board and head of the committee overseeing Paterson’s redistricting.
“What if it’s the best plan?’’ asked Mayor Jeffrey.
The redistricting committee has scheduled a public hearing on the various proposals for Mon., March 12 and plans to adopt new ward maps at a meeting on Thurs., March 15. Both sessions are scheduled for 5:30 pm at city hall.
A Dominican group has offered its own proposal for redrawing the city’s wards in way that’s designed to boost Latino candidates’ chances for election. That plan has come under criticism from officials and residents who say it would be tantamount to political segregation.
During the public comments at the meeting, Natalie Riley told the committee she has lived on 14th Avenue for 70 years and watched the neighborhood change from mostly white, to mostly black to mostly Latino.
“The neighborhood’s going to change,’’ she said. “There’s no sense in running. We have to learn to live together.’’
Here are the highlights of the three plans outlined on Monday by Frank Moosic of BonData, the Pennsylvania-based firm the city hired for the redistricting:
Plan 1: It would entail changes to five of the city’s six wards, leaving only the 6th Ward untouched. The new boundaries in this plan would affect 4,148 people. It involves three main changes. The 1st Ward would lose 2,147 people who live south of the river between Main and Straight streets. The blocks north of Broadway would become part of the 4th Ward, while those south of Broadway, down to Grand Street, would become part of the 5th Ward.
Also under Plan 1, eight blocks of the second ward, a rectangle bounded by Union, Albion, Chamberlain and Manchester avenues would be shifted into the first ward. There are 1,858 people in that area.
Finally, Plan 1 would take a sliver of the 3rd Ward around E. 15th Street and move it into the 4th Ward. That would affect just 143 residents.
Plan 2: In this version, the 1st Ward would stay intact while changes would be made in the other five. Overall, city blocks inhabited by 7,102 residents would move to other wards. The largest population group affected would be the 3,137 people who live in an arrow-head shaped segment of the 6th Ward bounded by Market Street, 20th Avenue, Summer Street, Cedar Street and Madison Avenue would become part of the 5th Ward.
Also, a triangle in the 2nd Ward bounded by Getty and Bloomfield avenues and the railroad tracks would become part of the 6th Ward. That would affect 2,216 people. A thin rectangle bounded by Broadway, Straight Street, E. 18th Street and Ellison Street would shift from the 5th to the 4th wards. That change would affect 1,606 people.
Plan 3: This proposal entails major changes to every ward would affect 24,667. Under this plan, the resulting wards would be most the compact geographically, said Moosic. Under this plan, the population of the six wards would be most balanced.
Under Plan 3, the 1st Ward would lose 3,544 to the 5th Ward, the 2nd Ward would lose 3,208 people to the 1st Ward, the 3rd Ward 3,849 to the 4th Ward and 2,566 to the 6th Ward and the 4th Ward 2,073 to the 3rd Ward.
During the public portion, Dawn Blakely-Harper, who serves as the city’s election attorney, urged the commissioners to adopt the plan that would shift the fewest people to avoid confusion on Election Day. She said there was “mass hysteria in 2008 among people confused about where they were supposed to vote. Keeping as many people as possible in the same wards will keep elections orderly, she added.
A similar opinion was expressed by Alois Place resident Carla Harris. “The least change would be the best,’’ she said. “No one, no one needs a problem when it comes to voting.’’