Mercer County leads NJ for women’s political participation
Mercer County leads New Jersey in the number of women serving county and municipal political offices according to a report card by the Center for American Women and Politics, a unit of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University.
Associate Director Jean Sinzdak said 41% of all council members in Mercer County are female, which she says is impressive because the national average is 27%.
Mercer County also does well with county freeholders, with 43% of them being women. The county is also doing well in terms of female mayors: 33% are female compared to a 15% of mayors around the state being female.
The report card also found that women hold 837 city council seats in New Jersey in 2019, making up just 27% of all 3,126 city councilors statewide. Women make up more than 30% of members in the top five counties for women's representation in city councils: Mercer (41%), Hudson (36%), Camden (32%), Somerset (32%), and Essex (32%).
Somerset and Bergen Counties saw double digit increases in women city councilors this year. Cumberland is the lowest ranking county for women's representation on city councils in 2019.
Union County tied with Somerset for second place overrall. Middlesex and Bergen are tied in 6th place. Monmouth and Sussex are tied for 8th. Ocean and Passaic are tied in 17th place.
Salem County ranked dead last on the list for overall women's representation in the state. Sinzdak said the county currently has no women freeholders. Only 17% of all of their council members are female, which is far below the overrall state average of 27%.
She added there is not a lot of opportunities in Salem County, which has a five-member freeholder board.
Sinzdak added that the counties where women did better have been Democratic or leaning toward Democratic. Women are running for more Democratic seats than Republican seats, which she would like to see change.
She said the state legislative level is doing slightly better: 31% of all state legislators are female. Only two members of Congress are women.
"There's been a great deal of excitement about the successes women candidates had in the 2018 election as well as the six women in the 2020 presidential field, but it's important to remember that half of the women running for president began their political careers in county and municipal government," said Sinzdak.
She said if we want to see women presidents one day, supporting women in local office today and getting their voices heard, are extremely important.
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