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Legislative District 32

A U.S. Supreme Court decision helped prompt redistricting in the 32nd, but the district remains heavily Democratic.

In the 2007 legislative election, Democrats in the 32nd District garnered four times the number of votes as Republicans.

Last spring's redistricting probably won't affect voting trends, but it did change the composition of the 37th.

The new 37th came about at least partly because of a 2009 U.S. Supreme Court decision that further defined the Voting Rights Act. It also reversed an earlier ruling by the state Supreme Court, which allowed Democrats to split both Jersey City and Newark into three voting districts. The federal decision said the state cannot supersede the Voting Rights Act, which mandates that cities be split into as few districts as possible.

So Jersey City and Newark are now split into just two districts each.

In the ensuing shuffle, the district lost 64,095 largely Democratic Jersey City votes, but it gained three equally Democratic-friendly municipalities -- Edgewater, Guttenberg and West New York.

Other alterations: Longtime voters in the 32nd will notice that longtime Assemblywoman Joan Quigley is not on the ballot. Quigley, who has held her seat since 1994, decided not to seek re-election when the section of Jersey City she lives was moved out of the district.

Instead, Democrats will field Angelica M. Jimenez, an MRI and mammography technician and chairwoman of the West New York Democratic Committee. Jimenez will be on the ticket with the popular Sen. Nicholas Sacco, who has been in office since 1994, and incumbent Assemblyman Vincent Prieto, the Secaucus construction code official finishing his fourth term in the lower house.

Opposing them are Republicans Michael J. Bartulovich and Ronald F. Tarolla, and independent candidate April Tricoli-Busset, who is running on the Politicians Are Crooks party. All three are from North Bergen.

While Jimenez, like her hometown of West New York, is a newcomer to the 32nd, she said she understands the issues facing the area.

"Education is a big thing," said Jimenez, a former member of West New York Board of Education. "There are never enough funds."

Another area Jimenez said she is uniquely qualified to address is healthcare. "Insurance companies are not reimbursing facilities, and some hospitals are in the red," she said. "I'm not happy with what Governor Christie has done for health care."

In the Senate, Sacco will be running against Republican Edward O'Neill and Politicians Are Crooks candidate Herbert H. Shaw. All three are from North Bergen.

Sacco, who is also the mayor of North Bergen, points to a record of keeping taxes relatively stable, an important feat in an area with heavy property taxes.

Hudson County Republican Chairman Jose Arango conceded that the 32nd "is today still a big bastion for the Democratic party."

Still, he said that "with a little luck" there is reason for his party to hope. While the party's presence has diminished, Arango thinks the Republican party's approach, along with Gov. Chris Christie's initiatives, will prove attractive and are better-suited to solving problems like education, jobs and property taxes. He said Christie has a 49 percent approval rating in Hudson County.

"Now you probably have 60 percent of residents [sending] their children to private schools," said Arango, who qualified the statement as "not [an] attack on public schools." He said thinks the private and charter school-friendly Republicans can attract voters frustrated by the difficulties facing the state's public schools.

Many residents in the district's municipalities "have their own businesses," he added, so they may be swayed by what he describes as Christie's business-friendly initiatives.

"Governor Christie has been very successful working with different mayors," he said. Arango argued that the governor's approach is "bipartisan," and has contributed to the Republicans making in roads with independents in the area.

Matt Hunger is the city hall reporter for the Jersey City Independent.

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