By Daniel Israel and Mark Koosau
Municipalities in Hudson County that are divided into wards are having their boundaries redrawn based on data from the 2020 U.S. Census. The re-warding process, which happens every 10 years after the Census, ensures that the wards have a roughly equal population to account for changes within the past decade.
The process is undertaken by each municipality’s ward commission, which consists of the municipal clerk and six members from the County Board of Elections that are part of every board.
The members from the Board of Elections are John Minella and Janet Lawra from Bayonne and Peter Horton from Jersey City, all Democrats; Daniel Miqueli from West New York, Daniel Beckelman from Jersey City, and Paul Castelli from Kearny, all Republicans. All members to the board are appointed by the governor.
Jersey City stumbles with re-warding process
The ward commission for the most populous municipality in the county adopted a second draft of the new map that makes changes all across the city.
Some of the most significant changes in the new map were made in the Downtown-based Ward E, which had the highest population of all the wards.
The northern parts of downtown around the roads to-and-from the Holland Tunnel will move to Ward D, while the south parts of the neighborhood that include includes Ferris High School, Van Vorst Park and the Colgate Center would be moved to Ward F.
In the middle section of the city, the Journal Sqare-based Ward C gains the Marion Section and the areas near the Pulaski Skyway.
Over in the south side of the city, Liberty State Park and most of Communipaw moves over to Ward A, and places such as New Jersey City University move to Ward B.
The ward commission had planned on hosting a public meeting on the first proposed map on Jan. 14, but after a number of people were unable to attend it online, officials eventually settled on having the meeting on Jan. 22 at Jersey City Hall.
A chorus of residents and public figures however had lambasted the commission over the lack of transparency in the process, including criticizing over changes made to Ward E and F.
Minimal changes in Secaucus
According to Town Administrator Gary Jeffas, the only changes in Secaucus are between the First Ward and the Third Ward.
“We do have to redistrict the wards,” Jeffas said. “The county came in and discussed that looking at the Census tracts. We’re going to have to move some streets in or out a ward.”
Parts of the town have experience population growth since the last census in 2010, prompting the shift in boundaries. This includes the Xchange in the First Ward, which opened its first building in Secaucus in 2008 and continued to construct more units throughout the decade.
“We definitely have to have movement in some of our wards based on the census populations, especially since the last census,” Jeffas said. “The Xchange complex was built on the south end of town. That has a good number of units and population there.”
As a result, some of the streets in the southern end of town will now shift from the First Ward to the Third Ward. The Second Ward remains unchanged.
“It’s not a huge change,” Jeffas said. “It’s some residential areas that are going to be coming out of the First Ward and then move to the Third Ward to even out the population.”
According to Jeffas, it doesn’t change anything regarding the council.
Hoboken wards see minimal adjustments
Hoboken’s six wards saw only minimal changes to their boundaries. The new map rearranges some blocks within the Mile Square City, but there are no other significant movements made.
The map was approved by the city’s ward commission and sent to the New Jersey Secretary of State, but it won’t go into effect until after the Hoboken high school referendum on Jan. 25.
An in-depth look at the new Hoboken map can be seen here.
Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner said the changes were minimal between two of the township’s three wards.
According to Turner, the changes, were “very minor” in nature.
“One or two blocks went to one ward and one building went to another ward,” Turner said. “But very minor.”
A few block will shift, but the wards will largely remain the same.
“We had one ward that was a little too small,” Turner said. “So we moved one or two small blocks and one building over. Then it averaged out, so we didn’t have to do a lot of changes.”
Weehawken is made up of three wards which will now be adjusted to have a more even spread of the population.
“We have three wards and they all have to be less than 10 percent variance,” Turner said. “So I think we will end up being a six percent variance.”
Wards remain the same in Bayonne
According to Public Information Officer Joe Ryan, the wards in Bayonne are staying the same. The Hudson County ward commissioners made the determination that the Bayonne ward boundaries would stay in place, due to the fact that the ward populations are within two percent of each other based off 2020 Census figures, he said.
“The population of the city increased city wide, and went up at pretty much the same rate within the three wards,” Ryan said. “If it had been a significant percentage gap between the wards and their population, then redrawing would have taken place. But it didn’t have to because they’re within two percent of each other.”
Bayonne has had three wards since adopting its mayor and council form of government, according to Ryan. The wards kicked in during the election of 1962, with only minor differences from today. The Second Ward used to be the east side of Bayonne and the Third Ward used to be the west side of Bayonne, with the First Ward being the southern end of Bayonne.
“The lines between the Second and Third Ward were changed so that instead of running north-south, they ran east-west,” Ryan said.
Around the ’80s or ’90s, the wards were redrawn to their current boundaries, which saw the First Ward remain the southern end of Bayonne, but the Second Ward and Third Ward shift positions. The First Ward includes the area from First Street to the south side of 16th Street between Newark Bay and Kennedy Boulevard, and to the south side of 17th Street between Kennedy Boulevard and Constable Hook. The Second Ward includes the area from the north of that boundary to and including the south side of 32nd Street. The Third Ward includes the area from that boundary to the City Line.
The rest of Hudson County
Kearny and Harrison are also undergoing ward redrawing. West New York, North Bergen, Guttenberg, and Union City have different types of government where a Board of Commissioners are elected at-large by the whole municipality, instead of by wards.
For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Mark Koosau can be reached at email@example.com or his Twitter @snivyTsutarja.