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Lacey Cotter Rzeszowski: CD-7 Redistricting Testimony

First off, I’d like to thank all the commissioners for your commitment to the New Jersey constitution, for going above and beyond the required 3 public hearings, and for your commitment specifically to honoring the ideal of creating and/or maintaining fair and competitive districts.

I’m Lacey Cotter Rzeszowski, and I live in CD7. I’m a founding member of Summit Marches On which is a grassroots organization committed to voter engagement located in Summit, NJ.

The 2016 presidential election results indicated that the legislative district in which I lived could be flipped. So as a longshot, I ran for office for the 16 towns of LD 21. As you all know, it was an important year for NJ and VA to gauge voters’ temperature; just as this year was again another bellwether year. I know first hand the amount of work we did for turnout, I know firsthand the amount of work we did on messaging, and in the end, massive coattails afforded us the closest margin in the LD 21 race ever for a democrat.

But closest margin means-- I lost. The minority leader won that year, and again two years later even with tons of investment, and again earlier this month. Why? Because of registrations? No. Bramnick successfully got people to the polls. Call it messaging, or mobilization, or incumbent advantage.

Elections aren’t determined by registration numbers. Look, we all know that turnout is woefully low; so when we see these democratic wins in historic Republican municipalities like Summit or Westfield and in a Congressional district like 7 or 11, we know these elections are determined not by registered voters, or swinging independents. Frankly, they are determined by the voters who actually voted.

In 2018, Summit Marches On sent out thousands of postcards directly to voters to mobilize them to vote. All across the district and around the state similar grassroots efforts were underway to raise engagement. We canvassed all of 2017 and 18. I personally hosted the GOTV for the midterm elections, and 4000 volunteers came through my house in a massive effort to connect personally with voters. Respectfully, that is a large component of how the district was flipped-- unbelievable engagement on the side of voters; engagement to get out the vote. Not registrations.

Bottom line: folks should not be penalized for the work we did to motivate our neighbors and ultimately flip a district. ANd let me say this-- since most of this grassroots organizing in NJ was spearheaded by women following the Women’s March, our voices should not be silenced.

So as you deliberate from whence the 12,000 folks to make CD7 once again the appropriate population size will come, I implore this commission to make every effort to maintain the fair and competitive nature of this district. Having the smallest margin of victory in 2020 in the entire United States, CD7 is the definition of fair and competitive.

Thank you for your time.

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