Thank you Justice Wallace, Chairs Fuller and Steinhardt and members of the Commission for your commitment to this daunting challenge — the fair redistricting of our state.I thank you for taking the time to hear our testimonies and urge you all to maintain our district’s makeup so it is as close as possible to how it is currently drawn. For me specifically, CD-7 residents deserve a fair map to ensure all our voices are heard.
My name is Amanda Greenblatt and I’ve lived in Summit for 25 years. I have lived and worked in Union County since my job offer in 1997 brought me back home to NJ after I finished my MBA.
Like many here today, in addition to my professional life, I have been a volunteer over the past 25 years, really getting to know my community. I am a past president of the Junior League of Summit and am currently serving as the Chair of the Junior League’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Task Force. I currently serve as a Trustee on the board of Temple Sinai in Summit. I am a Court Appointed Special Advocate (that is, a CASA) working with children in the foster care system, in Union county. Most of my advocacy has been on behalf of children in foster care in Plainfield, although my current case is advocating for a child living in care in Cranford.
My volunteer work has widened my awareness of issues important to our community and because of that, I have become more involved in our local politics — in fact, I am also one of the four leaders of Summit Marches On, a local, grassroots organization with more than 800 members, which was formed after the Women’s March On Washington in 2017. Summit Marches On works to empower voters and hold our elected officials accountable, in addition to doing charitable work in our community.
When I think of the organizations I am a part of, each serves several communities. My temple draws its membership from multiple towns (Summit, New Providence, Berkeley Heights, Chatham, Millburn, Warren, Watchung) — most of which are part of CD-7. So when we have an issue that we want to address with our member of Congress (and sadly, with the rise of antisemitism, this is not an infrequent occurrence), it makes sense that our Congressperson addresses his or her actual constituents.
Similarly, the Junior League of Summit serves several communities: Summit, Chatham, Berkeley Heights and New Providence — again, we tackle significant issues. Most recently we have focused on food insecurity by launching GRACE which has become one of the fastest-growing weekly community food distribution centers. Having the ear of our member of Congress - one who serves all of us — just makes sense.
Finally, overall, I think about where we live and what impacts our everyday work day. Within the current CD7 we share many of the same issues - those mentioned earlier, plus the train line, the Gateway Tunnel etc. This is a significant issue that impacts our day to day lives - anyone who works in NYC knows that while “midtown direct” may be an asset, getting in and out of NYC is a challenge on any given day. We should have the ongoing benefit of working with one member of Congress who understands these issues and the impact on their constituency.
I have raised several topics, but each of these situations speak to why it is important for our districts to remain intact - specifically CD7. We need the continuity of having a member of Congress who knows us and our issues. I want to thank you all again and hope that your Commission will work to maintain a fair map, not only for CD-7 but for our entire state.